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Boys and Barbies: What’s normal?

My son plays with Barbies. Should I get him help? Dr. Steven Parker answers this reader’s question.
/ Source: WebMD

My son plays with Barbies. Should I get him help? Expert, Dr. Steven Parker, answers this reader’s question.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest’s alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have a question about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Question: My 3-year-old constantly says he is a girl, wants to wear dresses, and would rather play with Barbies than cars. He is about to start preschool, and I am afraid the other boys will tease him. Should I get him some type of help?

Answer: If he were doing this at age 5 or so, then it could potentially be a sign of gender identity issues down the road.

At age 3 however, it’s common for children to explore different identities as a normal way to learn who they are. So at this stage I would not necessarily interpret it as something that will persist over time. It’s too early to draw any conclusions at this stage; it could change very quickly.

Lets see how this evolves over the next year or two. Let’s see how peer pressure and modeling affects it when he starts preschool.

Dr. Steven Parker, is director of behavioral and developmental pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine.

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