July 28, 2008

Tutus or toy guns?


No...I am not going to talk about having a boy or girl for a next child, rather, my question is rather controversial for most parents; will you let your 3 or 4 year old boy
a) dress up in a tutu and ballet shoes in school OR
b) play with a toy gun during pretend play

I believe almost all Singaporean parents will select option b. Most parents will probably freak out if they found out that their boy dressed up in a tutu complete with ballet shoes during pretend play and will prefer that the child play with toy guns instead. Never mind if toy guns will encourage violent behaviour in your child, as long as he is not given 'sissy' stuff to do. And God forbid! Dress up in a tutu and ballet shoes, is this some sort of a precursor to the alternative lifestyle?

This question came up during my Early Childhood Education class this evening. My lecturer who loves to ask questions to challenge us posed this to the class; Will you allow a boy in your class to dress up in a tutu and ballet shoes during pretend play if he choses to? The majority, all 22 of us answered 'Yes', only 2 other classmates said 'No'.

This may start to drive you into a panic and wonder what sort of teachers that you have for your nursery or kindergarten child today. Let me justify the 'Yes' to that question.

Note the context that the child is given that liberty; the child is at PLAY. Play is voluntary, often fun and meaningful for the child, it allows the child to make choices and decisions, is purposeful, involves pretending and engaging in meaningful behaviour and helps children understand and handle their feelings.

So the boy should be allowed to dress up in a tutu and wear ballet shoes, however, the teacher or parent needs to ensure that there is clear follow up after that activity. Highlight to the child that it is ok to pretend and imagine what a ballerina does. But also let him know that in real life only girl ballerinas wear a tutu, as this can also be an opportunity to let him know more about real life gender differences. Evoke further interest of the child to find out more. Ask him questions like; there are male ballet dancers performing with the ballerinas in a ballet, what do they wear? Are there also instances where men wear skirts? Like in the case of Scottish and Malay men - the kilt and sarong.

You do not nurture feminine traits in your son just by allowing him to dress up in a tutu when he is at play. Refer to my previous post in my Kids and Parenting blog for a full run down on possible causes that will encourage homosexuality during childhood -
I am not a gay-basher, just that I don't agree with their choice of lifestyle. Just like how I don't agree with married people getting into affairs.

As for the toy gun, sometimes I don't know what are parents thinking when they buy toy guns or swords for their young son. Did you ever notice that kindergartens never have toys guns in their collection of toys for the children? They have toys that imitate real life, not reel life and violence. If parents think that they are encouraging a child to build manliness and macho-ness by giving them toys of that sort, they are very wrong. Fathers should just spend quality time with your sons if you want them to learn how to be a man.

Our children are exposed to enough violence from the media, we really do not need to be part of this negative influence that will direct their play behaviours and preferences.

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