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Boys Playing with Girl Toys
Every parent of a little boy will someday face the fact that boys are attracted to playing with "girl" toys. This phenomenon usually happens more often with boys who have female siblings, but even those boys without any girl playmates may eventually show an interest in "girl" things. The most important thing to remember when this happens is that it is no way a sign that your son is weak or feminine. A healthy interest in female activities such as dolls, cooking, and playing dress-up just shows that your son is maturing in a normal way and learning many necessary skills such as empathy and domestic skills along the way.
If you notice this behavior in your son and you accept it as a natural part of growing up, your son will take the lessons that he is learning and turn them into lessons that he can use as a man. By playing with dolls, he can learn skills that he will need to be a good father. By playing in the kitchen, he will learn skills that he needs to be an independent adult. By playing house and imitating the roles he sees in you and your spouse, he will learn the skills necessary to be a loving husband.
Also, by allowing this natural and healthy behavior, you will allow him to learn at his own pace. If left alone, your son will outgrow this behavior and soon turn his interested to more "manly" activities. This change in behavior away from female activities to male activities such as rough play, cars and sports usually happens once your son reaches school age. By being around other boys and mimicking their behavior, most boys begin to settle into gender appropriate activities around the age of five.
The worst thing you can do for your son is to inhibit his natural curiosity. If you try to stop his exploration, or worse put it down or make fun of him, he will likely start to feel as if something is wrong with him and he may feel shame at having these interests. No matter what your son's interests are, you never want to make him feel as if they are wrong. Doing so will harm his self-esteem and lead to confidence problems later in life.
If your son's interest in female activities bothers you and you find that you cannot simple ignore it, there are a few steps that you can take to protect his self-image and still ease your concerns. If he likes to play with dolls, you can purchase boy dolls or action figures for him. This result in him displaying more male type behavior, but if he stills treats the dolls as his "babies" it is best not to step in.
You can by him domestic type toys that are more male orientated. For example, you can purchase a play lawn mower and wheelbarrow and get him engaged in a game of yard work to satisfy his domestic interest. You can also buy him play tools and he can be the handyman when he plays house with his sisters.
While these ideas may work, it is still best to try to find a way to except his behavior as something that is completely natural and allow him to grow into his own personality without adding any negative aspects to the process. Be patient, more often than not, many parents find that this "girl" toy stage is short-lived and before they have time to worry about it their sons move on to other interests and games.
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