Child Caring

This boy prefers girl toys

My six year old plays with dolls -- girl toys -- he has boy toys but he prefers playing with girl toys. He tells me, mom I want to be a girl. At school, his teacher tells me he the same thing. He has a 14 yr old old brother and does not want to play soccer or play with cars with him.

From: Glinda, Houston, TX

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Dear Glinda,

It's not unusual for a young boy to prefer girl toys and girl play. The toys are often more creative and allow for more imaginative play than boy toys and the play itself tends to be less aggressive and rough & tumble than boy play. What's more, even retail manufacturers are recognizing that so-called girl toys can appeal to boys if only they aren't painted pink. And, of course, not all boys are interested in competitive team play as youngsters but may develop an interest later in individual sports). All in all, I'd look at it this way: At this age, when he says he wants to be a girl, it may simply be his way of saying, "I'm more comfortable with girls and the way they play, it feels safer to me and it's more fun and interesting right now." My best advice is to support your son in whatever he likes to do -- don't push him into team sports; look for activities that he will enjoy when it comes to extra curriculars -- and try hard to do all of it without comparing him to your older boy. Whatever this turns out to be -- a passing stage or a predictor of future behavior -- think about how you want him to remember his childhood: that it was pleasant and fun, not filled with adult-pressure to conform.

Click here to read a previous entry on the same topic that includes an interview with boy expert, psychologist Michael Thompson.