Modeling positive behavior with toys


We have established that toys function by modeling what adults say is acceptable behavior for children. Wartime games are a negative reinforcement for children if parents are otherwise trying to raise law-abiding and thoughtful kids.

But how can we model positive behavior with toys?

It’s actually very easy. Kids love to do what their parents do, and toy choices can make this happen without any effort. For example, dolls are a perennial favorite for girls. What do girls do with their dolls and their dollhouse? They play house. They fold the laundry, cook imaginary dinners, and entertain guests. All this play is of course modeled on classic gender roles for our culture.

Similarly, boys are known to play with construction vehicles, work on models cars and mow imaginary lawns, all of which are acceptable behaviors for males.

This kind of play is teaching children how to become responsible adults, and it’s up to you to provide the toys that mirror what you think is “responsible.”


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