That’s for girls! Is it OK for toddler boys to like girl stuff?

Little boys like trucks, dirt, bugs, swords, and stuff like that — right? In most cases, sure, probably, but that doesn’t mean your toddler won’t also like dolls, fingernail polish and little ponies. The first time our son sported my knee-high rainbow socks and wanted his hair in a ponytail, my husband was quite worried that having me as our sons’ primary caregiver was turning them into gender-confused sissies. This made little sense, because as a child I was a tomboy, and for the most part have remained so. I literally flushed my tights down the toilet.

So, if it wasn’t me being a female caregiver that led my little boys to like little girl things, what was it?

It’s their personalities. The same way some kids like blue and others green, some kids will like dolls and others trains. At an early age, children are gender role free. My son has no idea nail polish, make-up, pink stuff, dresses and all that glitters is for girls, according to modern society. All he knows is whatever it is that sparks his interest, and there is nothing wrong with that interest.

Does a little boy playing with girl stuff mean he’s going to be gay?

No, a toddler’s play preferences offer no indication to future sexual preference. You have to question why little boys playing with what is typically considered girl stuff makes us assume a child may be gay in the first place. While I would say you’re wrong if you think you should, or can raise a child without gender bias, letting go of male-female stereotypes sets you on your way to raise a well-adjusted sexually healthy child.

What if he keeps right on playing with girl stuff beyond the toddler stage?

You still have nothing to worry about. While most children begin to self-realize gender roles and practices by observation as they age, there’s nothing wrong with a boy maintaining an interest in something typically deemed feminine. Keep in mind that by exhibiting equality at home, you can teach your toddler to not be a sexist adult. For example, both mom and dad can cook, and both mom and dad can fix the stove. We are limited in life only by our own expectations and assumptions.

How should I handle people’s negative comments about my boy liking girl things?

Unfortunately, society is not as accepting and open as it often claims to be. Girls who like boys’ things are often not given a second thought, but when the tea cups are turned, mockery and teasing can result. At a toddler age you’ll likely actually encounter this more from adults than other children. My sons having long hair, for instance, often got them called girls, and got me a lot of in-need-of-a-hair-cut remarks. When someone, adult or child, chooses to act with a closed mind and poke fun, or show concern over your son, simply inform them, tell them what you just read. If they can’t accept that, ignore them.

You may also enjoy:

Long Hair on Little Boys: To Cut or Not to Cut?

Tips for Potty Training Boys

How Little Girls are Made: The Science Behind Conceiving a Girl


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