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Don't buy her that 'boy' toy!

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Childhood stereotyping can do harm once the child reaches adulthood. Individuals may be influenced by the assumed stereotypical colors and toys given to them in childhood (e.g., pink, blue, dolls and trucks). This subtle influence may not always be in favor of the child’s over-all mental well-being.

Children may self-identify with the stereotypical colors and specific toys imposed on them in childhood or infancy. This imposed-identity (internalization) may conflict with their preferences, which could lead to a distressed social role later in life.

The specific colors and toys that are given to them early may make the children believe they are not given a choice. As they get older, their choices are then ‘correct’ when they choose what they know will please the caretakers; following the societal rules. A girl child will want to please her caretakers, therefore choosing the appropriated ‘pink’ colors and dolls while a boy child will want to please his caretakers and force an interest in boy colors and toys. It becomes controversial when it is imposed on the child not allowing for variations.

The Way We Talk about Gender Can Make a Big Difference

The common practice of stereotyping in childhood will not allow for the preferred variations of the child. A girl baby is commonly given pink accessories with ‘girlie’ toys whereas a boy baby is given blue accessories with ‘boy’ toys, most done innocuously by caretakers/parents. This practice of stereotyping is common in the United States and is considered an acceptable practice and many times becomes problematic if the child chooses the opposite.

This stereotyping can harm a child if the child identifies with the opposite gendered toys and is surreptitiously reprimanded by non-conforming adults. The guilt may then be carried into adulthood.

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