What Your Child Learns from Play

Should Boys Play with Dolls?

playing with a doll

Why are girls more likely to play with dolls, and boys with trucks? A preference for gender-specific toys may be innate, according to Gerianne Alexander, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Texas A&M University, in College Station. When given a choice in a monkey study, males played with the truck and ball and females with the baby doll and a pot. The theory is that males are drawn toward items that move and can be used actively. This dates back to the days when hunting skills were crucial for survival. Females' responsibility for reproduction draws them to the color pink. "Infants of all species are pinker than adults, so the pinkness might make babies more attractive to females," Alexander says. Boys and girls have one thing in common: insatiable curiosity. So if your son wants to host a tea party, or your daughter wants to crash trucks, be encouraging. Even boys need to know how to properly sip a cup of tea.

Originally published in the August 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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