MAKE A GENDER NEUTRAL TOY BOX FOR KIDS THAT IS NOT PINK OR BLUE
Since my child turned three years old, I seem to have spent a lot of time thinking about gender stereotypes and their implications. I want my 4 year old son to literally break the norms of our patriarchal society. So I tried to introduce a lot of “girl based stuff” in his routine like playing with a doll, cooking meals, wearing pink, tying his hair etc etc.
But despite my best intentions, the boyishness characteristic seems to rule over. Cars and Dinosaurs seem to be flying around in the house, Sports seems to be never ending love and to top it all peer’s statement like ‘boys don’t cry’ or ‘boys are stronger then girls’ seems to find its way in his little mind.
The knack of categorising starts when kids realize their gender and the world around them keeps sending cues and signals telling them what to do. You walk into a toy store and there is an aisle of pink and blue. Even the salesman enquires are you looking out toys for boys or girls. The books, the cartoons, the clothes etc keep giving a distinct message which my son has adopted to really well.
My idea is not to ban him from playing with his favourites, but my idea is to break the stereotype that has been prevalent for ages and also if he desires to play with toys that are considered ‘gender specific’ he should be willing to play with it. Also, research has stated the Traditional masculine toys like blocks and puzzles encourage visual and spatial skills while traditionally feminine toys encourage communication and social skills. If children play with one, they are missing out on other skills.
To stop this debate going on in my house or rather in my son’s mind, I have started introducing gender-neutral toy box for my child that is not Pink or Blue but has an array of toys and even books which he and his friends can play with without getting into the argument like this is for boys or girls. Also, it is a great process to question the stereotypes which exist in our society.
The gender neutral toy box
My gender-neutral toy box contains
- 1 toy
- 1 board game
- 1 book
- 1 DIY and
- general stationary
So far I have made 3 gender-neutral box and will share what each of these has.
- Ammachi’s Amazing Machine – Interesting book which introduces the concept of simple machines to kids in a very cheerful and happy way and the amazing part is these machines are owned by Amma ( grandmom)
- Clive and His Bag – Interesting book about a boy and his useful bag that challenges gender stereotype. Clive share his collection of toys like dolls, nursing equipments and more in the most gentle and affectionate manner
- Pattu’s Dosa – The story focuses on a Father making a variety of Dosa’s for his family and also for his fussy eater. It breaks the norm of mom being the cook ( in the traditional households) and focuses on gender equality and ethnic diversity
- Spot it – As the name says you have to spot the symbol or object with one card with another and be as fast as possible to win the game
- Kids on Stage – If you have a drama loving child, this is the perfect game where the kids have to enact different characters mentioned in the card
- Fun Magnetic Shape Board Game – There are various shapes in the box which when aligned can make a bird, car, fruit or anything your little one desires to make
- Karaoke Mike – This is a super fun toy I feel helps them to explore their imagination. They can either sing or talk and enhance their communication skills
- Hopscotch Activity Mat – Since it’s a lockdown in Mumbai , I arranged an activity Mat that he could use to jump, run and channelize his energy. The idea is to start from point A, complete various task and reach point B.
- A Giant Colouring Sheet – Anything that is huge, large and life-size is very attractive to kids. Keeps them occupied for long hours and helps build their imagination too
So Far, I have done simple DIY activities which can be done using household products and one would not need anything additional that is purchased from the market. I did a sensory activity of touch, smell and tastes making my little one identify the difference between bitter, sour, sweet.
Another DIY activity was when we made a bird feeder using coconut shells which we had used to make the coconut chutney.
Another DIY was a flame-free cooking activity where I had just given him a simple apron so whenever we make something he wears it with a big smile on his face. My little one till now has made oreo balls, watermelon popsicles, roohfza juice, buttermilk and cookies. Hopefully, this is and will be a continuous learning process for him.
This Gender Neutral Box is a perfect reminder for me to break down the unwanted stereotype that has been prevalent in society. For example, cooking is mostly my job in the house and this is the first DIY activity I had put in the box where we made Buttermilk together and he was so thrilled with the outcome he never stopped and also realized cooking can be done by anyone. Similarly, when I see him arguing with his friends I am a boy and you are a girl, I assure him an activity or book goes in the box which solves the stereotyping issue and helps him build a better understanding of the term ‘gender’.
Hope you liked the gender-neutral box for kids that is not pink or blue and do share it with me on my Instagram handle where I will share it with everyone out there. Also I had written an interesting article on house husbands and their acceptance in modern parenting. Curious to know more, click here.