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Gender-specific toys

Do you think that young children should be guided toward gender specific toys? Why or why not?

To help exemplify gender schema theory, let's look at an example. Elena is a toddler enrolled in a neighborhood day care center. Elena's mother recently bought Elena a kitchen set and encourages her to play house with her younger sister, Sasha. Her mom also plays with the girls with tea sets and dolls. When the girls are confused about what to do with the tea set, she shows the girls how to create a tea party. In addition to illustrating how Elena's mom is developing a gender schema, this example also highlights Vygotsky's concept of scaffolding (see Section 2.3). Elena's mom is providing structure for Elena and Sasha to try out social roles, and she offers help when they need it. When the task becomes difficult, she steps in to show them the appropriate behavior.

At day care, Elena loves to build things and often likes to play with the boys. Elena's teacher is concerned that she doesn't like to play in the housekeeping area with the other girls. She often tries to redirect Elena by putting the blocks away and starting a new activity with the boys while encouraging her to play with other girls. Both Elena's mother and teacher are acting in accordance with gender schema theory. They are encouraging her to adopt behaviors that are traditionally viewed as feminine, such as playing house, and they are discouraging her from adopting behaviors that are traditionally viewed as masculine, such as building towers and fixing things. This example also illustrates the role of the child's microsystem (home) and mesosystem (school) in shaping Elena's gender role.

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Personally, I believe that gender stereotyping begins at birth. When a baby is born, gift are usually gender specific such as pink for a girl and blue for a boy. As a child grows, toys that are purchased for the baby are also gender specific such as trucks for boys and dolls for girls. This continues until the child begins to make choices for themselves and starts to choose ...

Solution Summary

Discusses why children should and should not be guided toward toys that are meant to be for a specific gender.