Is it normal for a small child of 3 or 4 years to like to play with dolls more than with the typical cars or balls? Why are we surprised and worried that our son or daughter plays at being a child of the opposite sex and wants to dress like a mom or a dad, like a little sister or the best friend in
Is it normal for a small child of 3 or 4 years to like to play with dolls more than with the typical cars or balls? Why are we surprised and worried that our son or daughter plays at being a child of the opposite sex and wants to dress like a mom or a dad, like a little sister or the best friend in class? Do we have to worry about or support these behaviors? Is it normal or can it be due to a sexual identity disorder?
We will answer these questions understanding that in most cases the fact of playing with dolls, cars or balloons, wanting to paint your nails or put on high heels is part of the process of learning and developing gender identity and gender of our boys and girls.
When children begin to play 'to be of the opposite sex'
In this process of identifying and feeling like a child, which begins around 18-36 months and continues to be defined beyond 7-8 years, factors intervene genetic, psychological, social and cultural.
Children learn through imitation and play, they like to observe us and put into practice everything they see. Playing or wanting to do 'things of the other sex' is something that is part of the curiosity, the desire to know, experiment and investigate our children. And, in spite of the restlessness that it generates in the parents, that the children are inclined by the toys or clothes of girl it is completely normal.
The fact of preferring a doll or stroller, playing to be a girl or prefer to play football instead of imagining being a placid little princess ... has nothing to do with the future sexual tendency of our children. At this moment, the symbolic or role play prevails where boys and girls are putting into practice social skills that will help them in the future, play and develop their intelligence, imagination and creativity. For this reason we must support them without limiting them. It is about avoiding stereotyping the game, the most important activity of children.
When to worry about a child's identity disorder
However, there are cases in which the child persists in his preferences for games, dresses and socially and culturally understood behaviors as part of the sex to which he does not belong. According to the criteria of the DSM IV, the manual of diagnosis and statistics of mental disorders, for the diagnosis of sexual identity disorder in children, the child must manifest among others, four or more of the following features:
- Repeated desires or insistence of being of the other sex.
- In children, preference for transvestism or for simulating female clothing; in girls, insistence on wearing only men's clothing.
- Marked and persistent preferences for the role of the other sex.
- Intense desire to participate in the games and hobbies of the other sex.
- Preference marked by being with partners of the other sex.
If the preferences and behaviors that our child expresses concern and concern us, the best option is always to go to the experts, our pediatrician first and the specialist in child psychology can secondly clarify if it is a simple normal phase of the game or of a possible sexual identity disorder. Be that as it may, they will always offer us rigorous information and guidance needed to support our children on the road to becoming adults.