Okay, girls love Dora the Explorer and boys love action figures. But there is something to be said about toys that siblings can share with their sisters and vice versa. The way children spend most of their free time is to play, and if you can give your children toys based on a common interest, you can encourage them to share and play together, which can strengthen the bond between siblings and create a more harmonious family.
One of the real obstacles for brothers and sisters to play together is that most girls don’t really care about Batman, and most guys wouldn’t be caught playing with Barbies. So, more often than not, you’ll need to provide your kids with some “gender-neutral” toys if you hope to see them get along and learn to share.
In the 1980s we had He-Man and the Lords of the Universe. He-Man had initially been marketed for boys, but due to the generous number of strong female heroines and fantasy elements, plus a female animation director who did many episodes, the show actually had a lot of crossover appeal, from here the spin-off series and toy line, She-Ra Princess of Power, with He-Man’s sister. The whole He-Man / She-Ra toy family was nothing more than a great way to get brothers and sisters to play together and enjoy the same shows. Unfortunately, children’s entertainment today has very little in the way of popular franchises with equal appeal for boys and girls.
But then we have Dora and Diego … while Dora the Explorer might have limited appeal to kids, the spin-off series, Go Diego Go, is definitely a kid’s show. Each show shares a number of characters with each other and the overlap can help bring brothers and sisters together, which means less fighting over the remote when one show or the other comes on TV, and playing together to create adventures for both Dora. than for Diego. conquer.
Then there are completely gender-neutral toys, such as Legos. Legos usually try to please boys more, by licensing properties like Batman and Indiana Jones, but the basic premise of this toy has a lot of appeal for boys and girls – build whatever you want to build. Challenging your daughter and son to build a castle together can yield interesting results, such as a palace with a ballroom and an army of cannons and archers along the outer wall.
While space adventure is primarily a boy-focused genre, Star Wars actually tends to appeal to both boys and girls. By providing audiences with a strong male lead in Luke Skywalker and a strong female lead in Princess Leia, every child who watches the film has someone to cheer for.
More recently, we have seen electronic toys for boys and girls drop in price considerably due to the very nature of the technology becoming cheaper every day. You can actually buy a child a digital camera, a toy laptop, or even a video camera for the price of a dinner at Olive Garden. By their nature, these are non-gender specific toys, but keep in mind that most guys wouldn’t dare touch a pink and purple camera, while girls rarely have a problem with blue.
It is something to remember, however. Many gender-neutral toys are colored blue for boys and pink for girls. Guys often hate pink, but girls don’t have to worry about being called sissies at school if they show up with a blue backpack.