About a year ago, my son came home from preschool with the idea that “boys aren’t supposed to cry.” I was floored that my own son had gotten a hold of this message. These stereotypes impact and harm everyone. This is how I ended up a toy inventor.
These are the words of Laurel Wider, a psychotherapist, feminist and mother of a boy child in the following article
She puts me to shame because I feel like I have ranted for decades about how so-called boys’ toys, while critiqued when they encourage extreme gruesome violence, are rarely questioned for their lack of scope for play involving connectness, care and cooperation. But girls’ toys have been denigrated as sexist.
Over 30 years ago I wept with frustration as I watched my 5 year old boy, abruptly stop playing with his soft monkey that he had, up till school, loved, dressed, and parented. He still took his strawberry shortcake animals to school but only because he and another friend shared this attachment and used to sneak of together to play furtively. For obvioys and sad reasons this soon stopped.
I have also spent countless hours playing Ninja with my 4 year old grandson, trying to inject connectness, cooperation and care into what is usually a pretty classical smash-the-bad-guys play. He is very amenable to this adaptation but it really stretches my imagination to the limit.
But this mother just gets out there and creates her own solution.
Wilder is now the founder of a new startup called Wonder Crew, a new line of toys that brings connection and kindness into boys’ play.
So what did she cone up with and why?
I thought long and hard about how to create a “hybrid” toy, one that still resembled familiar play scenarios for boys, but also offered the opportunity to connect and nurture. So I came up with action fess-up) plus mini open-ended comic book. The formula: Child + Crewmate = Wonder Crew.
Right now we have one Crewmate, his name is Will and he comes in three adventures with a fourth in the 4_crewmates (1)pipeline: Superhero, Rockstar, Builder and Chef. These adventures were based on interviews with over 150 parents, educators and kids that spoke to me about play that they’ve observed/ kids’ favorite play scenarios.
At first I thought that these adventures were too stereotypical, but I’ve come to realize that it’s important to show that nurturing fits in with all kinds of play, even the kind that’s stereotypically masculine. And really the big picture idea is that anyone can be a connected, empathetic, nurturing person.
Play is how children learn, which means toys have the power to create change.
How does the school you teach at, or your child attends, support boys in play that emphasises more than win lose games, muscles, construction of things, power and aggression?
How can we offer a play experience that encourages, care, cooperation connection or even friendship? Are there resources that support this.