Is play with sex-appropriate toys related to intelligence in 3-year-olds?
It is well established that by 18 months, children prefer to play with toys that are culturally appropriate for their gender (Liss, 1983; Caldera, Huston, & O’Brien, 1989). It is also pretty well established that play provides children with opportunities to learn and practice cognitive and social skills (Caldera, Huston, & O’Brien, 1989; Caldera, Culp, O’Brien, Truglio, Alvaraz, & Huston, 1999). The relation between sex-typed toys and cognitive development, however, has not been established.
The current study was conducted to investigate this relation in 36-month-old children. In addition, this study explored factors that may contribute to mothers’ providing sex-typed toys to their children. This was tested with Mexican American (MA) mothers who might adhere to traditional gender roles. Forty-seven MA mothers with a 3-year-old child were visited at home and asked to name the number and types of toys their children had. Mothers also filled out questionnaires regarding adherence to traditional gender roles, acculturation, engagement in traditionally feminine child care and household chores. In addition, the children were administered the Bayley Scales of Infant Development by a trained research assistant in order to asses their cognitive development (MDI score).