Friday, December 17, 2010


Each year at this time we make a book of holiday traditions in our classroom. Each child brings in a page with pictures and blurbs about their traditions. This got me thinking about our holiday traditions. There are certain traditions that the kids look forward to each year. Some are newer traditions and some are traditions that my husband and I have brought with us from our childhoods. Of course, we have the tree and the lights. Some of the other older traditions include and advent calender with the nativity scene and lighting an advent wreath at dinner each night. One of the newest traditions is the Elf on the Shelf. The kids won't even leave for school in the morning until they have found "Twinkle". We also fulfill gift requests from the giving tree at church. This is a tradition that the kids really enjoy and I like it that they are learning about giving as well as the reality that others are not as fortunate as they are. What are some of yoru family's traditions?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paying attention to birth order, and each individual child.

The order in which children are born into a family is a fact, but the effect that this order has on their personality and psychology is not a science. Many factors influence the results of birth order including the sex of the children, the physical size of the children and most importantly the spacing between them. The family is the largest influence on a persons development, more so than institutions or cultures outside of the family. Therefore, the influence of birth order in the family structure is worth looking at. However keep in mind when searching for reliable sources on birth order that the only way to discuss birth order is to generalize and stereotype.

Take the following prompt for example from The University of Maine.

Where Do You Fit?

  • Perfectionist, reliable, list-maker, well-organized, critical, serious, scholarly
  • Mediator, fewest pictures in the family photo album, avoids conflict, independent, extreme loyalty to the peer group, many friends
  • Manipulative, charming, blames others, shows off, people person, good salesperson, precocious

If you identified with the characteristics in the first list, you may be an only child or a first-born. If the second list fits you better, chances are you a middle child. And if the last list fits you best, you may be the youngest or baby in the family.

Birth order is not a simple system stereotyping all first-borns as having one personality, with all second-borns another, and last-born kids a third. Instead, birth order is about tendencies and general characteristics that may often apply. Other things also influence birth order.2

The underlying factor in birth order is parental attention. The first born experienced 100% of each parents attention while the second born will never know that reality experiencing only 50% of each parents attention. The expectations and implications of birth order are in the hands on the parents. If you expect the first born to do more difficult chores than the second born based solely on age while typically siding with the younger child in disputes than you may notice a personality development that follows suit.

Putting extra time and attention into treating the children as individuals, and giving them each the attention they deserve independent of each other is a good place to start. Expectations are best adjusted so that the older child is not naturally expected to get higher grades while the younger child is expecting to cause youthful trouble. Holding all children to the same standards, while valuing them as individuals with separate interest and talents goes a long way in avoiding Second Child Syndrome.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Mom’s Choice Awards® Names Baby GoGo® Among Best In Family-Friendly Products

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) is an awards program that recognizes authors, inventors, companies, parents and others for their efforts in creating quality family-friendly media, products and services.

Parents, educators, librarians and retailers rely on MCA evaluations when selecting quality materials for children and families. The Mom’s Choice Awards® seal helps families and educators navigate the vast array of products and services and make informed decisions.

An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of our panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling author, Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language; Patricia Rossi, host of NBC’s Manners Minute; Dr. Letitia S. Wright, D.C., host of the Wright PlaceTM TV Show; and Catherine Witcher, M.Ed., special needs expert and founder of Precision Education, Inc.

MCA judges are bound by a strict code of ethics which ensures expert and objective analysis free from any manufacturer association. The evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost.

To be considered for an award, each entrant submits five identical samples of a product. Entries are matched to judges in the MCA database. Judges perform a thorough analysis and submit a detailed assessment. Results are compiled and submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final approval. The end result is a list of the best in family-friendly media, products and services that parents and educators can feel confident in using.

For more information on the awards program and the honorees, visit

For more information on Baby GoGo visit

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Practical tips on preparing your first born for the birth of your second child.

I have a lot of friends right now who have just had or are about to have their second children. I’m the old pro in the group now that my kids are 6 and 4. We have talked a lot about how to get the older child ready for a new baby in the house. From my experience, both good and bad, here are some great tips for easing the transition:
1) If someone else will be taking care of the child during or after your trip to the hospital, make sure they spend time together before hand, so it doesn’t seem so out shocking. Unfortunately for my family, my husband was traveling full time. When he spent a month working from home and taking care of our son around the birth of my daughter, my son took all of his frustration out on daddy. However, his grandparents made a couple of visits prior to the birth, so he was used to spending time with them and going out on special outings.
2) Avoid any major transitions for the older child around the birth. I made sure to transfer my son out of the crib months before his baby sister would use it. Where I didn’t have as much forethought or control, was that he started preschool just 2 weeks after sister’s birth. Let me just say that it was NOT a smooth transition.
3) Read lots of books about new babies with your child/children. It really does help them know what to expect.
4) Get your child a big sibling gift. A new toy will bring excitement, make them feel special, and may take a lot of their focus, making your life a little easier.
5) Have a doll for your child to learn how to treat the baby, and also so they feel like they have their own special thing to care for while you are caring for the baby.
6) Cut yourself some slack. Don’t worry about a messy house or making a gourmet meal; just take care of yourself and your kids. The rest can be dealt with another day (or week or month!).


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Finding common ground at

During your first pregnancy the amount of information you need to gather seems endless. Everyone comes out of the woodwork to give you advice. Relatives from every limb of the family tree, colleagues and neighbors all have input as to exactly how they feel you should be proceeding on every topic related to your family expansion.

At first, all of the advice may be welcome but after you begin making your decisions, the advice keeps coming, welcome or not. How do you grow confident in your own decisions, name choices, birthing and pacifier plans when it seems there are a million people who think and advise differently? Keep in mind that no two families are alike, and no two women or pregnancies are either. While growing confident in your own path regardless of the opinions of others is a great way to start a family, it can also be beneficial to find a community of people from a similar demographic, belief or background for support.

The internet offers a wealth of connections for any type of support you could be interested in. A great place to start is from the bestselling author of What to Expect When You're Expecting. Groups you can join include Mom's in College, Dad's Corner, Blended and Multi-Cultural Families, Multiples and Twins and more. Its' an extensive forum for finding people just like you to ask advice of, whether you chose to take it or not.

140 groups including:
Single Moms
Young Moms
January 2011 Babies
Portland Moms
Food Allergies
35+ Moms To Be
Penny Pinchers

While all advice, wanter or unwanted, is worth a listen it helps to have a place where you can find people in a similar situation and ask annonymous and important questions of others in a similar situation. Use the internet to your advantage in your first pregnancy and you will find more than a wealth of information, you'll find support from people in a similar situation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is having a second baby a harder decision than the first?

Deciding to begin a family is one of the most pivotal decisions a person can make. Your first child changes your entire life in more ways than can be counted. It is hard to imagine that when the time comes to make a decision about having a second baby, it seems the decision can sometimes be even bigger than the first time around. Questions arise in new areas. What is the proper spacing between siblings? How will this change the one-on-one connection with the first child? Is it possible to love a second child as much as you love the first?

As points out in the article "Whether to have another child"

In the end, what is best for the family is not whether you actually do or don't have a second child. It is how that question is handled. It can become a power struggle, a source of battle, or a template for how future conflicts between family members are resolved. If you approach each other with compassion, respect, and a willingness to listen, the two of you can work this out in a way that strengthens both your relationship and the family.

Whether it is a harder decision to add a child to the family varies by family. Talk with others, talk with your spouse and understand that there's no right answer. Be open, and honest and remember that you are simply deciding what is right for you and your family.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baby GoGo Review & Giveaway at Multiples and More!

Multiples and More has a great review of Baby GoGo along with a giveaway. Visit the Multiples and More blog to see Baby GoGo in action. The pictures are worth it. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting involved with children and reading

Raising smart well adjusted children. Isn't that what we all aim for when we enter that process. The expression that it takes a village to raise a child could not be more clear to me today. I saw a segment on the Today show this morning about summer reading. One child read 280 books during the summer. Pretty unbelievable. The show also talked about how much ground a child loses if they do not read and keep up their skills during summer. When my children where young our library had a summer reading program that our children participated in. Some begrudgenly and some with great enthusiasm. Some of my grandchildren live in a community that does not have such a program. We developed our own. Ours is a little different because it not only includes books it involves other activities that teach responsibility and enriches their world with things they might not do without the nudge. We are in year two of this program and all is going well. Last years treat was seasons tickets to to the Boston Children theatre. Lord knows about this year. It is still a work in progress. As grandparents or aunts and uncles we can help by being part of the village and so can your communities. Get involved with the children . It always pays off in spades.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Teaching Children Responsibility and Independence – Part 1

An email on a local parenting list this week got me thinking about teaching children responsibility and independence. The parent who wrote the email had been to a group camping event and her 8 year old was busy and happy helping to build the campsite and work to keep it running. It got me thinking about my experience this past spring taking our second-grade Brownie troop camping. We had planned a simple menu to make things easier on ourselves and then I went to Girl Scout camp training. In the training they reminded me that all activities should be girl-led. The girls are old enough to help with cooking, cleaning and even building the fire. So we revamped our menus so that we had jobs for everyone to contribute. The girls were responsible for cooking and cleaning, with supervision. I also spent a lot of time teaching them how about fire and match safety including how to build a fire and practicing how to safely light a match. Many of the girls were nervous about it as was I. I loved seeing the pride and excitement on their faces when they lit a match and realized that they didn’t burn themselves. One of the girls has since told me that her parents now let her light the Shabbat candles with supervision. The girls were told that they were expected to contribute and relished in it. They cleaned and cooked without a single complaint. Giving them those responsibilities showed them that we respect and trust them. As a result, they not only lived up to, but exceeded the expectations that were set for them. It is a lesson that I will carry with me always and have tried to transition into my life at home with the kids. For more on that, check out my next entry “Teaching Children Responsibility and Independence – Part 2”.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Re-Learning How to Play

When my kids were younger we spent a lot of time at home. I had three kids in 3 ½ years so there was a lot of time spent at home for naps, laundry, etc. We were a part of a playgroup at different times but this was for my benefit more than for the kids as I needed adult contact. At this time, my kids worked hard at playing. They took care of their dolls. They had tea parties, made roads for their trucks, built homes for their stuffed animals, they built forts, etc. They did watch TV, but no more than 1-2 shows per day. It was fun to watch them grow and their games develop as they got older.

Now that they are all in school, I am sad to say that they don’t play like that anymore. Between school, swimming lessons, gymnastics and homework there are not long stretches of time for them to pull out their toys. When they do have free time they are always begging to play on the computer or watch TV. They are looking to be entertained rather than entertain themselves. As a result of this, I am on a mission this summer: a mission to help my kids learn how to play again. This is why my kids are not spending much time in camp this summer like most of their friends. (Granted, as a preschool teacher, I have the luxury of being home with them in the summer to make this work.)

The first two weeks were rather painful with my 5 year old asking to watch a show about every 20 minutes. But now we have settled in. We are spending most mornings this summer at home with the television off. The kids are spending time inside and outside just playing. They are playing games with each other, having stuffed animal sleepovers, reading books, building with MagnaTiles and Legos, playing with their dolls that have been sitting untouched for a while. They are learning how to play again. I have not heard the words “I’m bored.” in about 2 weeks. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing them get creative and work as a team. The afternoons are also spent playing, mostly at the beach. We also use this afternoon time to go to museums, go bowling, see friends, do crafts, bake, etc.

Now that I have seen the success of this summer, I will make sure to leave unscheduled time in the fall for playing. Playing is truly a skill and I don’t want it to get lost again.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaching children to love one another begins with teaching them to love themselves.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the value of teaching our children to care for others. Lately, I have been thinking about teaching children to love themselves. What is the best way to find that balance between creating healthy self confidence, without creating a child that believes themselves to be at the center of the universe?
My 6-year-old had trouble this year accepting the fact that he just can’t run as fast as his friends. He was upset and pretty down on himself. In this case, I started off by explaining to him that each person has their own individual strengths, some are fast runners and some, like him, are great at building and math. I also told him that if he wanted to get faster, he could, but he had to practice.
I believe that by creating an environment in which they feel safe, loved, and valued goes a long way. Additionally, I think it is important to let children try things on their own (watching like a hawk, of course!). In doing things from sports to school projects independently, children will learn the joy of succeeding on their own and also learn to get past it in a healthy way when they don’t succeed. They will also learn that some things take a lot of practice, but the work is worth it. It can be heartbreaking to watch our children struggle, but I think a key of raising a healthy child, is to let them learn their strengths and their weakness’, along with the value of hard work, so they can ultimately embrace who they are and learn what they are capable of when they put their minds to something.
Does anyone have suggestions regarding how they approach this challenge with their own children?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are we equipped to raise a generation of majority minorities?

The fact is, that while we read articles about the end of an age where the word “majority” meant that if we produced a doll with a light skin color, it would appeal to the largest piece pie on the demographic chart. The America that newborns are arriving into today, has already experienced the dynamic shift from the demographic the majority of America identified with of the past. As parents who may have experienced American life from either the majority or minority perspective begin to raise children, it is important to consider that these children will grow to have a completely different relationship with words like majority and minority. These definitions including how the newest generation learn to self-identify with them, is already taking a strickingly different shape.

Are we equipped to raise a generation that does not, and will not, subscribe to our previously accepted definitions, perspectives or self-identification on the most basic of social, racial, and gender identified terms? Consider, that a trend like U.S. Moves towards 'Majority Minority' is happening here, and is not a message sent from a far edge of the globe. It is in fact happening right here and now and is already effecting the youngest members of your family whether you’ve taken the time to consider it or not. If you are sitting with your coffee and considering it’s impact at this moment, than yes, we are ready.

Many individuals and businesses have already taken a leading role in helping the parents of this newborn generation to be raised and educated with the perspectives that their generation will own. Stephanie Oppenheimer reviews gender-neutral toys to help parents navigate the current reality of this new American generation. Baby GoGo is a passionate project that the Winchester family has produced with an ambiguous olive skin tone and no gender limiting pink or blue overtones so that every modern American family, can introduce a doll that every American child can self identify with.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Should this two-year old boy be allowed to push a stroller?

I had a friend tell me recently that her two-year-old son really wanted a toy stroller, but her husband didn’t want the son to have it. I know he is an excellent, hands-on father, so I suggested that my friend ask her husband if he was embarrassed to be seen pushing their child in the stroller. I am sure his answer was no. So, why would it be an issue for his son to push a stroller—especially a gender-neutral one?

Perhaps I don’t entirely understand men, but it makes me wonder--Do some grown men still have this macho notion of themselves that they want to project on to their sons? Do fathers not realize that they are at their absolute most attractive to their wives when they are hands on with their children? I say to men, embrace fatherhood and let your sons embrace nurturing play. In the end, it will bring them more comfort and confidence in life and, especially, in their role as fathers. Isn’t confidence at the core of masculinity?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Put the calendar away, let the kids chart the day

As the mom of a 12-year-old and the owner of a home daycare business, I am constantly faced with other parents and their unending need to plan a “play date” or enroll their child in some sort of class or lesson. A vast majority of “today’s parents” have an insatiable appetite for activities and play dates. But, why? I don’t hear their children begging to go to so and so’s house or to join the local kids gym or to do any of the five to ten things kids seem to do in a week. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in music lessons, learning to swim, playing a sport and playing with the kids in the neighborhood, but within reason. Children are designed to work and what is their work? PLAY! When we as parents have our children so involved with planned activities that there is no time for unstructured play, we short change them and they fail to learn one of life’s most necessary skills, independence. Over-scheduled children are not learning to imagine what they could do with their own time. It is my belief that as we shuffle the children from one activity to the next and plan each moment of the day for them, all in the hopes of being a good parent and giving our kids “everything”, children fall short in learning to care for themselves and to chart their own course. By planning so much for them, we often fail to help them discover their OWN passions. Boys may not want to play sports and girls may not want to do ballet. I was recently at a Highland dance competition. There amidst a sea of giggling girls was one lone young man, determined to win first place and win he did! What if his parents hadn’t asked him what he wanted – do you think they would have enrolled him in dance? Probably not. But look at the confidence, security and life skills he is learning by charting his own way and succeeding! My advice to all parents is to take a moment and put the calendar away. Encourage your children to plan their own fun for a day – you’ll be amazed with the wonder they can create and the things they will discover about their world and their own lives.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Doll Hospital

Something interesting happened in my classroom yesterday. The lead teacher led a discussion with the students, all four years old, about what to set up in the dramatic play area. She suggested setting up an ice cream stand as the weather is getting warm. One of the little boys said he would like to set it up as a place to take care of babies. Others agreed, boys and girls alike. When they arrived this morning the area was set up as a baby hospital with cribs, bottles, clothes, scrubs, and medical tools. The space was filled to capacity for the entire morning with children feeding, rocking and dressing the dolls. They took turns being the doctor and giving them check-ups and sometimes medicine. Even more interesting was that the girls spent very little time in this area. The boys thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t help but think that this is likely because the girls have dolls to care for at home while the boys do not. If only these boys had their own dolls to play with at home, they could have the experience of caring for something on a daily basis. My hope is that gender-neutral dolls such as Baby GoGo will help to make it the norm for boys and girls to have dolls to help them develop the ability to nurture.
- Megan

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kids humor and gender-bias

At every age and stage of development children have their own emotional and intellectual relationship with humor. Humor brings families together. Consider how children may view humor, and how they may assign roles based on gender difference to what should and should not be found funny. In the article What's So Funny? Kids, teens and humor Part 1 by (Apr 1, 2010) she highlights girls and boys perception of what each gender "should" find funny.

"In our study, girls often mentioned that boys find 'stupid' things funnier than girls. While 'gross' and 'stupid' humor are perceived to skew towards boys, girls don't reject them entirely. In fact, there wasn't one type of humor categorically rejected by boys or girls. So as long as the content is gender-relevant, understandable and age-appropriate, all types of humor can appeal to everyone."
Erin Miller has clearly identified the gender-bias here. The study reveals that girls nor boys reject any single type of humor, girls readily proclaim that boys find "stupid" things funnier than girls. It's also addressed in the article that girls are "supposed" to find more humor in sarcasm and jokes that require higher intellect.

The benefits of humor are limitless. Stress reduction may be the most obvious, however humor has also been found to increase optimism and self-confidence. Humor is key to building relationships and crafting lasting memories. Keep in mind that humor brings along with it a fair share of gender-bias. Adults as well as children organize what is or is not supposed to be funny based on ages and gender. For example, a joke that is categorized as appropriate for a son to tell a father, but not deemed appropriate for the son to share with his mother. Pay special attention to moments when girls imply that boys humor in and of itself is "stupid", as any use of the word is hurtful.

Laugh, laugh often and with every member of your family. While doing so, notice when gender-bias may be limiting what your children, or your family is "supposed" to find funny. Boys can enjoy dry sarcasm and girls can giggle at physical humor, if your goal is to eliminate gender-bias in their development, then take the time to recognize that humor is not exempt.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Counteracting Media Stereotypes for our Sons

Thank you to Mary Tamer for taking a close look at a crucial conversation.

"In pursuit of the truth, and armed with the book's key points, I posed the first of many questions to my nine-year-old regarding whether he thought it was OK for boys to be considered "smart" in school.

'It's OK for now,' he said, "'but once boys get to high school, it's not OK anymore.'"

Mary Tamer relays the above conversation with her 9-year-old son after being asked to write the blog Boy, Oh Boy! for ED.magazine about the book Packaging Boyhood written by Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D., Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., and Mark Tappan, Ed.D. In her thorough analysis of the book, Tamer goes on to quote Brown.

"Packaging Boyhood addresses all of the ages and stages influenced by the stereotypes and media messages our sons receive, (ranging from the slacker to the careless risk-taker) it is particularly interesting to look at the youngest ages being influence and how a planted seed can that develops through time."

'Studies show that boys and girls, as infants, are handled and treated differently by gender, and that speaks to the way we all . . . interact with kids... I think the media impacts children almost immediately because of the way we interact with them, but when children start to really identify around gender and class and race is around three years old. Little girls who have a lot of media influences begin to naturally assume they should like pink and princesses, and the same is true for boys, who believe that they should like dark colors and trucks. Boys are also told that real boys don't cry and big boys don't act this way.'"

If we are going to make a significant difference in how we raise our children, both boys and girls, then we need to take the cues from Tamer and Brown to recognize the influences we are all subject to, and how it consequently shapes our children's perception of their own roles. It is crucial that we are willing to allow our sons to perceive themselves as caregivers and stay-at-home fathers. At the earliest ages of development and influence, breaking down the pink versus blue color boundaries and allowing boys to have a doll they can relate to teaches them the family principles that counteract what they will see in the media over the following decades.

"'In terms of play, there's a little more gender bending for girls allowed; girls can do sports, play with trucks, and be tomboys,' continues Brown. 'While this is outside of my experience, my inclination is that fantasy is a really important part of kids coming to know who they are, and being able to cross gender boundaries is a healthy exploration. A boy is not going to become a girl because he dresses in girl's clothing, for example, but in this culture, because there is so much anxiety around masculinity, there is pressure for fathers not only to be masculine themselves but to raise 'real' boys.'"

The book is a must read for anyone raising boys, (the counterpart Packaging Girlhood a must read for those raising girls) but we must go beyond reading about parenting, and begin to stand up for what we believe is best for our children. Allowing your sons to nurture a doll, and receive the educational benefits of this developmental play is the first step towards allowing him to think of himself as caring and nurturing, masculine adult.

To read Boy, Oh Boy! by Mary Tamer visit

For more info on Packaging Boyhood visit


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Playing outside is what childhood is all about

As the weather is finally starting to dry out and warm up, I started thinking about the joy of playing outside. As a kid, I remember spending most of my summer outside making mudpies, creating new games and playing with the neighborhood kids. As the weather is turning warmer, my kids (ages 4,6,and 8) are craving time outside. It is such a wonderful way for them to spend their days. They learn to cooperate with each other creating new games to play. They develop their gross motor skills by climbing trees, swinging, running, jumping, biking and riding their scooters. They work on hand eye coordination playing baseball and beanbag toss. They learn about nature by digging in the dirt, catching bugs, collecting acorns and pinecones, planting flowers and vegetables. In the past few days, the kids haven’t even asked to watch tv or play on the computer. They are having too much fun creating their own activities using their imaginations! Isn’t that what childhood is all about? I love this time of year and will savor every moment of it before the winter sets in again and it becomes too cold to spend too much time outside.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How early does the gender divide begin?

So goes the age old question….Can men and women be friends? I’ve noticed certainly that preschool boys and girls can be friends. Both of my children had close friends of both genders at the ages of 3 and 4. They can easily find common ground in play. For example, my daughter and her good friend, a boy, often play princess and fire-breathing dragon or Star Wars with Princess Lea and a Storm Trooper. Their imaginary play is varied and everyone can find a role they enjoy. My son had similar friends in preschool, asked for play dates with girls, and did not discriminate according to gender. He is in Kindergarten now and I am beginning to see changes with the children in his class. I have lunch with them once a week. At the beginning of the year, there was no rhyme or reason to who sat with whom. It changed week to week, with boys and girls mixed together. As the year progresses, I notice more division. A few girls here, a group of boys there, another group of girls down the table. When I observe the older grades, all the boys are at one end and all of the girls are at the other end.

So what happens when they hit elementary school? Are their interests in play that different? If so, because of nature or the way they are marketed to? Do parents (maybe unknowingly) discourage play with children of a different gender, or just overly encourage play with children of the same gender? If boys and girls have a hard time being good friends before hormones come into play, what chance do they have afterwards?


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Children's Advertising and Gender Roles

Have you ever noticed that t.v.commercials will show boys out and about, while they often show girls in the home setting? According to the following study presented in this article," Children's Advertising And Gender Roles" the differences favor boys and limits the scenarios girls are portrayed in.

Children's Advertising And Gender Roles

Did you know?

  • Gender bias favors boys over girls in ads. Girls are more likely to show an interest in boys' products than boys in girls' products.
  • Advertisers favor using boys, even in commercials where gender neutral products are featured. Either boys and girls are used together or only boys are shown.
Especially where neutral products are concerned, mixing the gender of children in casting could only widen the opportunities for child actors as well as the social perspective of children watching from home. The data on boys promoting "girls" toys was not even discussed. Could it be seen as so far out of the question that it would not even enter the study guidelines?

With a subtly notable casting change, an advertising department could do their part to reduce and eliminate the skewed message that children receive regarding their social roles and cultural expectations.


(source: National Institue on Media and the Family,, article:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's the down side?

When I go into a toy store, I can easily find pink legos, or “girly” science kits, but try to find boy dolls and gender-neutral accessories, and it is a lot trickier. Most boys refuse to play with the pink legos or push the flowery doll stroller, but I don’t believe the reverse is true. Don’t get me wrong, many girls love pink, but I have never heard a girl say that she wouldn’t play with the blue blocks, because those were for boys.

So why do we continue to support a trend that inevitably doesn’t benefit anyone but the toy industry. If we as parents all bought more gender neutral toys, wouldn’t it be easier to encourage both genders to play with a wide-variety of toys, to teach boys and girls to excel in science and in nurturing—giving them both the skills to excel in careers and family life, and wouldn’t we all save money by not buying the pink and blue versions of everything, from blocks to bikes. Siblings could share and our houses just might be a little less cluttered with toys and our landfills might be a little less full. What’s the down side?

- Katie

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is limiting toy choices limiting career choices?

The "PinkStinks" movement, founded by Abi and Emma Moore, is thrilled to see science toys for girls, but they are still striving to broaden play choices. Read about the movement in Richard Gottlieb's blog entry Pink Stinks? The problem with pink: Part 2 and you may ask the same questions that I am.

On what platform would someone resist broadening play choices for girls? The same platform that challenges career choices for them possibly. While we are beginning to accept the hard fought battle for women climbing the corporate ladder beyond previous generations expectations, are we ready to broaden the choices for men?

If we encourage the broadening of toy options for boys, are we then saying we support their decision to be stay-at-home dads? I wouldn't mind hearing the resistance to this argument, because at least then we'd be having the discussion.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are we selling our sons short?

For awhile now, we’ve been hearing a lot about how girls should have the opportunity and be encouraged to play with blocks, science kits, and other traditionally “boy” toys. The world needs more women scientists and mathematicians, and the way to get there begins with play. That focus seems to be paying off, as more girls are attending university than boys and women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics were 49.83% of the work force in the United States in September 2009. At the same time, I don’t think anyone is actively encouraging boys to play with dolls, toy kitchens, or any other toys that teach nurturance and foster imagination, traditionally “girl” toys. If everyone is exclusively focused on careers, who is going to focus on children and family?

Play really is the foundation of a child’s future, and if children aren’t given a wide variety of choices, they may not find their right path. Additionally, as much as we want our girls to succeed in the sciences, don’t we want to encourage our boys to be caring men and good husbands and fathers. I think it is great all that we do to encourage girls, but I worry that we might be selling our boys short. Doesn’t true gender equality come when all of our children are given the same opportunities in play, in education, and beyond.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Top 10 gender-free toys every preschooler should have

As a parent of a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl, I have had just about every possible preschool toy come through my house. I have made numerous observations in watching my children play. Yes, as a toddler my son preferred cars and trucks and my daughter dolls and dress up. However, there are certain trends and toys that remain consistent and valuable across the genders. Mainly, they NEVER prefer toys with batteries. I have observed that the novelty of talking toys, remote control toys, etc… wears off very quickly. The toys that challenge their brains and imagination are played with again and again. I have thought about all the toys that both my children have loved and learned from.

Here is my list of the Top 10 Gender-Free Toys Every Preschooler Should Have:

10) Blocks – They use their imagination and increase their spatial skills. They can build castles, parking garages, barns, and bridges….

9) Puzzles – Puzzles challenge their problem solving skills, as well as their spatial skills.

8) Doll and/or stuff animal – Every child needs to learn to love and nurture. Whether it is a baby doll, or a stuffed lion, children build their imagination and practice taking care of another being.

7) House Play (toy kitchen, cleaning, etc) – It is never too early to learn life skills and children like nothing more than imitating their parents. Whether it is a toy kitchen, a play vacuum, or a lawn mower—children use their imagination and associate fun with the important skill of taking care of themselves and their home.

6) Ride on toy/tricycle – Every child needs to burn off energy and work on those gross motor skills.

5) Dress up – Imagination is important for an escape and for children to dream about what life may be for them. Plus it teaches children to start relating to others in different situations.

4) Arts & Crafts – It is so important for children to discover their creativity. Plus, arts and crafts can really strengthen those fine motor skills.

3) Ball / Sports Equipment – This is the best time to teach children the importance of exercise and make it part of their daily life. Plus, it is just joyful to run around outside.

2) Nature Toys – Whether it be garden tools or a bug viewer, children need to explore the world and understand nature. Planting seeds, watering them and watching something grow teaches about life cycles. Observing animals and learning about the wonders of the world around them, teaches them to respect all creatures.

1) Musical Toys – An exercise in creativity and just plain fun, children love to play the xylophone, shake the maracas, and beat on the drum.