Gender differences in Toddlers and Preschoolers

A child’s gender identity emerges early in life and when gender identity is established the nature of play changes. Children’s identification of whether they are boys or girls will result in playing more with other children of their gender.
Once children engage in gender-specific play, they tend to play more with same-gender peers and play less with opposite-gender peers. This tendency increases as children grow older in the preschool years.
Sex-types play choices can be seen at about 2 years. Boys spend more time playing with blocks, transportation toys, guns and manipulative objects while girls spend more time playing with dolls, stuffed animals and art materials.
By   preschool,   children   identify   themselves as male or female and gender differences  in their behaviour may already be apparent. Four- year-olds tend to judge others’ genders based on superficial characteristics – assuming, for example, that anyone with long hair must be female and that perhaps that person’s gender might change with a  haircut. Because they don’t understand that gender is constant, they tend to identify with stereotypical male and female activities.
Boys this age love trucks, tools and weapons, but there’s as much nature as nurture in the way they learn and play.
•    Because they are hard-wired to enjoy spatial- mechanical play, boys require more physical space than girls. They need to run and spread out their toys.
•    Boys don’t hear as well as girls and may require you to speak  loudly  or  tap  an arm to get their attention. If he seems to ignore your instructions, ask him to repeat them back to you.
•    Give him time to finish his activity before moving on to the next. 
•    Don’t worry if you notice his ‘rough n tumbling’ with his friends. Play fighting  is  natural  at this age and seems to be a  form  of  early male bonding.
Are you getting tired of pink and frills? Preschool girls can be very “girly,” insisting on pink clothes, princess stories and playing house.
•    Even at this age, higher levels of the hormone oxytocin (which helps bond mothers to their babies) encourage girls to love and care for their dolls, while boys see them only as inanimate objects to be thrown around.
•    Girls verbal skills tend to develop early.
•    Girls use all their senses, while boys rely primarily on visual cues.
•    Girls of this age may flirt with their fathers; this shows not only their love for their fathers, but also their healthy  identification  with their mothers.
Family and parenting are a factor in gender differences in play. Encourage children to experience different types of play and mixed gender friendships. Ask children to join in with “chores” and activities around the house that would “typically” be gender specific roles. Don’t be concerned if he loves nail polish and sparkles and she hates dresses and dolls! Experts agree that exposing your pre-schoolers  to a  variety of playmates and experiences will help them bloom into self-confident adults.