The Role of Gender Specific Clothes and Toys on Children’s Future

Category: Psychology


Gender specific roles refer to the social norms that are considered appropriate for people based on their gender, whether they are males or females. These roles are in built in individuals from their birth. The paper herein attempts to establish the role that toys and clothes, specific for one gender or another, play on the future of children. In the early formative years, children get to learn the various roles they are required (Grinberg 87). This depends on the environment around them. In this regard, the use of gender specific toys and clothes is important in reinforcing gender roles.


Studies show that children learn a lot when they are young. They are able to transform in light of their immediate surrounding and consequently adapt to what is happening around them. By exposing them to gender specific items early in their lives, we set a basis for their behavior in the future. Parents are very critical of this development in their children and want to provide the necessary guidance from the early stages of their children’s lives. This is so as to help them conform to what the society expects of them. Discussed below are various advantages that come from using these gender specific items during the early developmental stages of a child’s life (Mackey, Wade, and Nancy 54).

Giving children gender specific toys and clothes acts as a guideline in terms of gender roles. They are able to know what the society expects of them and they, therefore, strive to conform to these guidelines. It would, therefore, create awareness among children and therefore allow them to know what is expected from them and abide by these tenets. In such an instance, we set certain standards; it will, therefore, be unexpected for a boy child to grow up and wear pink clothes when all along in his life he has been taught that pink is a sign of femininity and symbolizes weakness when worn by a man.

Toys generally have gender specific roles. The most common type of toys for men is super hero action figures and motor vehicle toys. On the other hand, the most common gender specific toys for girls are dolls. Playing with dolls leads girls to develop care giver tendencies such as cleaning and motherhood (Mackey, Wade, and Nancy 54). Likewise, boys tend to develop super hero characteristics and have lifesaving and other similar roles. These characteristics might appear small, but they have a lot of significance to the future development of the children, because these features will most definitely come in handy as the child grows older.

Clothing is also an important aspect of ones individuality. It is common to see people wearing different types of clothing the types of clothing we wear usually have an impact on us (Fairbairn 76). Men are generally expected to wear darker types of clothing, while on the other hand there is a widespread acceptance for women to wear brighter clothing such as pink attire. These are the facts that are not taught at school but these are the basic lessons that have an impact on us as we grow up and embrace the lives of the people who are living around us.

Society has certain expectations of the different genders. Though people may have the freedom of expression to do what they want and behave as they wish, there are still certain guidelines to follow (Grinberg 1). An example is ascribed to dressing. It is not practical to dress up male children in dresses and bright colored clothing. This type of behavior is not acceptable for male adults, therefore it should not be encouraged among children. In a way, it is correct to say that gender specific roles form the basis of the future wardrobe of these children.

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When we dress our children up in certain ways and buy them certain items, we are simply creating standards for them. It is a way of telling them that there are certain expectations that we have of them, and it is their obligation to try and fulfill those wishes. It does not mean that just because our male children play with trucks we want them to be truckers; that is not the case. Ideally, we are simply bringing out their masculinity and showing them what is expected of them (Mackey, Wade, and Nancy 54).

Despite the various benefits ascribed to the use of gender specific toys and clothes, there are certain disadvantages that come up. Discussed below are some of the disadvantages that come up as a result of using these gender specific items in the early lives of individuals.

In scenarios where we confine our children to certain pre meditated gender roles, we confine the thinking of the children. They come to believe that there are certain areas that are beyond the limits and they cannot attain them. A young girl will therefore just see herself as someone who is expected to be a home keeper and will not go out of her way to pursue a career in a male dominated industry such as engineering (Garrick, Ros, and Caroline 65). They are contented by playing the role of the weaker sex. Boys on the other hand will be learning that there are several characteristics that are not expected of them. They would look down upon taking up careers in fields like cooking, in result of what has been taught to them all along is that such roles are for females and would therefore look for a more masculine field.

Childhood is a time of exploration. When children are still young, they should be exposed to a variety of factors so that they experience several scenarios first hand. It would be better to let children decide for themselves which type of toys and clothes they like to wear because by making such decisions they begin to learn the decision making processes. In most cases, a boy child may begin playing with dolls together with his girl siblings but will naturally shift to more masculine toys. This sought of self-exploration is very important to kids when there is not any external influence (Garrick, Ros, and Caroline 65).

It can cause insecurities among children. When a child is exposed to toys of a certain gender inclination and grows up with a tendency to prefer toys from the other gender, they are likely to become insecure and unsure of themselves. This can cause feelings of guilt among the children and lack of inner peace, since going public with such feelings will most probably be seen as being defiant (Grinberg 43).

Every retail store that deals with baby items is usually divided into sections. It is common to see shelves that sell only male baby items and others that are stocked up with female baby items. In this regard, this segregation should not be seen as a form of character building experience but as a commercial entity. Separating the gender roles is meant to drive up business for the retailers and so they have to perpetuate this notion.


The role of gender specific toys and clothing should not be underestimated. Such things have a powerful influence on building the character of children. What is important is that apart from the guidelines that these gender specific items bring upon the child, they should inherently be given the opportunity to explore other avenues if they wish to. It is important for children to understand the responsibilities that come due to belonging to a certain gender and understand the implications of this to them. I therefore agree that gender specific toys and clothes play an essential part in a child’s way of addressing various issues.

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