Should Boys Be Allowed to Play With Baby Dolls and Dress Up In Heels?

Don’t Overact to Cross-Over Play

Last week while I was at a play date with 4-year-old girls and one boy a nanny reacted very negatively towards the boy when he wore a princess costume while all the kids were playing dress up at a girl’s house.

I think it’s okay to let boys play with baby dolls and dress up like a princess and for girls to pretend to be football players or firefighters. But, for caregivers who are afraid of letting their charges play cross-over play here are some thoughts I found online.

Lawrence J. Cohen, author of Playful Parenting and psychologist writes, “Dressing as the opposite sex doesn’t indicate a child’s gender confusion. Nor will it influence their sexual preference as an adult.”

The author suggests caregivers keep a positive attitude and a sense of humor about the way children dress. Kids may pretend to be someone of the opposite sex.

He says, “Don’t ever forbid this — join in on the play and let them wear what they choose. It’s simply of expression.”

Greg Uba, Children’s Services Coordinator for Connections for Children says, “When children are allowed to play outside their gender roles, it gives them the opportunity to go beyond gender bias. Cross-over play allows kids to develop skills they traditionally aren’t encouraged to develop.”

He explains that it’s common for children to experiment with different roles. Boys can learn to be more nurturing and verbally expressive and girls can learn spatial skills when they’re playing outside of their role.

He continues, “Child care providers should mix together gender-typed materials and toys. All kids love dinosaurs, trucks, trains, dolls, and dress-up. Put dolls in the block area and transportation toys in the dress up area.”

Mr. Uba recommends child caregivers initiate and encourage group games that are inclusive, provide pictures and role models of non-stereotypical behaviors such as jobs like male nurses and female firefighters.

Have you ever over reacted when a child played outside of their gender role?

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Playful Parenting

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