MUM SAYS I let my son play with dolls

Give your kid gender-neutral playthings, says mum Eugenia Koh. An expert gives his take on whether toys affect sexual orientation.

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“As a toddler, my son didn’t show any kind of interest in toys for the longest time. I tried to get him interested in toys by introducing him to common boy-centric ones like dinosaurs, tractors and animals. 

The funny thing was that Kevin was more interested in the mallet that came with the xylophone. There was a period of time where he went to bed clutching the mallet — which he refers to as ‘the stick’. He had to sleep with it — it was his solace. 

Naturally, I was afraid that he might hurt himself by sleeping with the mallet, so I tried replacing it with other things of similar shape. As the mallet is a long stick with a rubber bulb on one end, I bought a lollipop with the same shape, but it didn’t work.

Then out of the blue, he started loving giraffes. It was random, but I was so happy that I bought a set of different animals, hoping he would like these as well, but that didn’t happen. Shortly after, he moved on to excavators and diggers.

I started wondering what could be driving these toy preferences? I realised later that it may be because of his sensory needs — he seemed to find it soothing to play with objects with a ‘long neck’.

“I realised later that it may because of his sensory needs — he seemed to find it soothing to play with objects with a ‘long neck’.”

Then, about two years ago, Kevin and his sister started watching Lego Friends, which seemed to trigger his interest in clothing design. He’d bug me to buy the Lego set, but would only be interested in the figurines. These were expensive ― easily costing $60 to $80 each. He’d be fascinated with it for a short while and then he wouldn’t touch it again. So, it was very difficult to support this interest.

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After Lego, he moved on to the clip-on Disney princess dolls ― princess figurines with a variety of clip-on dresses. He liked dressing up the dolls and mixing and matching the different clothes.

Now, he has a newest craze: Shoppies and Shopkins. Essentially shop items — anything from a cup of juice to ice cream — these figurines can come alive. Kevin has a great attention to detail. After studying the dolls, he’ll know each one by heart. From their eyes, lips, even their hair — he’ll know the colour, the length and the style of the hair on each doll. He’ll also take note if it wears a dress or a two-piece outfit, long sleeves or short sleeves.