Here’s another two minute blog before I wake up my kids.
Remember, this is not just the big bad toy company. This is about us, too. I blogged earlier about how it’s hard to make small talk with a toddler so we say to a girl, “What a pretty dress!” It’s more difficult to try to think of other subjects. It can be awkward to ask the nurse at the doctor’s office not to offer your daughter a “choice” of three princess stickers. But we should all do it. Please try. I don’t mean to sound preachy and be annoying. I know we have enough people telling us what to do and feeling bad that we’re not parenting right. But it’s these little steps we make that change things. What we do in our own lives as well as the activism, it’s all the same, really.
I think of toys kind of the same way I think about eating which is what I blogged about right when I started Reel Girl. You can’t tell your kid to eat a certain way and not do it yourself. It’s hypocritical, but more importantly, it doesn’t work. If I eat sushi with my kids and get excited about it, they are likely to do the same. I’m not saying my kids will eat sushi if I do, but that they are way more likely to if I do. If it’s something we do together. If it’s fun. (Who cares if my kids eat sushi? It’s just a pain in the ass when they don’t try new foods, life is much easier– and healthier– when they don’t get stuck in a rut. And believe me, it’s hard to get my cooking, as well as my husband’s, out of a rut.)
If you get your kid gender neutral toys like blocks or puzzles or the old Legos, get excited about the toy. Sit on the floor and play with them. Do it often. What little kids want is attention from their parents. With almost any toy, you can incorporate make believe play. This can be tedious (my 5 year old loves a repetitive story with 3 creatures: one doesn’t believe, one does, and the third is the magical one. She will play this with blocks, Legos, or sticks.)
Also, show your sons and daughters movies and TV with powerful girls. Here’s Reel Girl’s recommended list. Read your sons stories that feature girls in strong roles. Here are some questions to think about when you watch a movie.
Encourage cross gender play. Make a play date with your kid and a kid of the opposite gender.
With toys, movies, books, playdates, and food challenge your kid to try new experiences. Kid learn through play. Lure her out of her comfort zone the way you would with “work.” With your attention and encouragement, she will try. If it’s too much for you to buy your son a stroller, don’t freak when he pushes another kid’s in the park. All kids love to push things on wheels, I know for boys we like to call those objects cars or trains.
Good luck this Holiday season!