Most adults don't have an "abstract and complex awareness of why they" perform gender roles either. We're indoctrinated in gender roles and expectations often, as I said, from before we're even born. But regardless of that, the fact that the children have enough awareness that they will only play with opposite-gendered toys without adults present shows that they are aware of the existence of gender roles and that they perceive they will be chastised or punished if they are "caught" playing with toys that "belong" to the other gender. That doesn't "just happen".Saying they have no awareness of gender roles at a young age isn't the same as saying they don't act their gender. Left to their own devices, kids gravitate towards stereotypical gender behavior. It's not a conscious choice where they have an abstract and complex awareness of why they want to do it, or how their sex and hormones influence their behavior. It just happens.