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‘My Toddler Son Likes Frozen And Blackpink—Should I Be Worried?’
PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Is it okay for toddler boys to like female characters?

    A mom asks this question in the Smart Parenting Village. She posts, “I have a three-year-old boy na nahihilig manood ng heroines sa cartoons. Should I be worried?"

    The same mom adds that her son's favorite movie as of late has been Frozen, and his favorite heroines are Elsa and Anna. 

    “Before, hilig niya rin manood ng Blackpink videos. Ni-limit ko na siya sa K-pop. Sa cartoons, girl na bida ang like niya.

    “Madalas [din] pong kalaro niya ay girls because sila ang pinakamalapit na neighbor namin.

    “OFW ang [daddy] niya, so maybe because walang father figure sa house kaya [ganito]? Meron namang mga tito, pero ’di naman kasi sila [nagse-spend] ng time talaga sa anak ko dahil meron din silang mga ganap sa buhay. Any advice po sa ganito?”

    Listen to the music

    Let’s take a moment. Aside from having female figures, what do Frozen and Blackpink have in common? The top-of-mind answer: catchy music. 

    This boy enjoys watching Frozen and Blackpink performances again and again likely because toddlers, in general, love repetition. “A one-time experience is not enough for a neural connection to form and stabilize. It is through repetition that possibility becomes ability,” explains Kindermusik educator Analiisa Reichlin.

    If your toddler enjoys music, try hard not to get distracted by the performers’ gender, and bust the myth that certain songs are only for girls to enjoy. What’s more important is screening the lyrics—especially of pop songs—for inappropriate content.

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    Check out this dad’s thoughts on how modern music and lyrics affect children.

    Parenting musically

    Once you get over the “girls’ music” bias, you’ll realize that music can make everyday activities fun. “Parenting musically is... what happens when moms and dads use music for many nonmusical tasks and goals,” writes Lisa Huisman Koops of Case Western Reserve University.

    “These activities can involve everyday things or ways to better relate to one another.”

    Try using music for rituals such as bath time and post-playtime cleanup.

    Koops, who studies how parents incorporate music into daily activities, gives this example: “One father composed little songs for his son to help him through his bedtime routine. The songs were cues for what each of them needed to do as well as a joyful way to connect.”

    Female influences

    Speaking of connections, having friendships with fellow toddlers—whether with kids of the same or the opposite sex—is a normal part of your child’s social development. And if your toddler son, just like his female friends, also plays with dolls, there’s nothing to worry about. 

    In fact, playing with dolls “leads to emotional development, new ways of interacting, and learning what respect is all about,” according to Brazilian educator and author Maria Angela Barbato.

    “As a child... embarks on an adventure [with a doll], [they are] crafting a narrative or storyline involving literacy skills, flexible thinking, self-expression, taking initiative, and more,” says Jody DeVos of the toy company Mattel to Fatherly.

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    “The open-ended nature of doll play can allow children to practice routines or social interactions that might be tricky,” adds the director of child development and learning.

    Thinking that dolls are only for girls can deprive your son of a vital learning experience.

    “Giving boys the chance to explore nurturing and connecting with others opens up opportunities for them to build important life skills,” Jennifer Shewmaker, a professor of psychology, tells the The Boston Globe.

    Still worried about your son liking “girly” movies and music?

    Take Elsa’s advice and let it go.

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