How to avoid Gender Stereotyping our Kids

gender stereotypes in kids should not be infused- Parenting resources by ZenParent

Scenario 1 – A little boy is weeping uncontrollably at the school gates because his mom is going to leave him and go and inadvertently, someone says – “Now now, stop crying like a little girl.”

Scenario 2 – A young girl wants a Star Wars themed party. The parents do their best to sell her the Frozen theme ‘cos they feel that’s more appropriate.

Gender stereotyping can be subtle or very direct; propagated by current generations and older ones, knowingly or unknowingly, but the resulting negative impact is one that is felt throughout the child’s life. Here are some tips to raise your kids without stereotyping –

1. Support their choices – Be it a pink balloon for a little boy or Lego blocks for a little girl, do not discourage them. They go for what they like because their heart wants it and unless you point it out to them, they don’t know it hasn’t “belonged” to their gender. At the same time, if someone stereotypes it in front of them, make sure to correct them and not your child. For instance, if someone says – “Pink is for girls. Pick blue”, you can gently say, “I think pink is a perfectly nice color for a boy too.” At the same time, if your child is naturally following the stereotype of their gender, let them be. A girl who loves princess cakes and a boy who loves monster trucks need not be given “different” things to diversify to prove your own gender evenness.

2. Resist pink and blue – We start stereotyping early – pink clothes for girls and blue for boys. While they’re cute when very young, there’s no rule that boys can’t wear pink and vice versa. Allow kids to form their own favorites. My son’s favorite color is pink, followed by red and then blue. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

3. Never say never – So what if your girl wants to go rock climbing and your boy wants to help you bake? This is fantastic either way. Encourage and respect their choices.

gender bias is a no- Parenting resources by ZenParent

4. Peer pressure – Many kids make choices in school and going forward, based on what their friends are choosing, even if it isn’t something they don’t want, they still follow others, just because that somehow makes them feel ‘accepted’ in their social circle. Based on your child’s personality, this should be fairly obvious to you. And you should bring it up if you see an anomaly and help them remain true to themselves and make choices that make them happy and not something that’s taken up to please others.

5. Encourage the positive – A common stereotype is that boys are better at numbers and girls are better with words. Encourage any positive traits they might have, like fearlessness and nurturing in both genders. Boys who’re nurturing and girls who’re great at Mathematics is hardly any loss to the world.

6. Dress practically – Just ‘cos you have a girl, she needn’t be in skirts or dresses all the time. Dress her in shorts or pants when practical, like a trip to the park or the beach. As for boys, there’s no need to avoid all “feminine” colors. Everything looks nice on kids.

7. Acceptance – Let’s face it; gender stereotyping exists. In fact, when you can, challenge it. When you can’t, point it out and talk about it, considering the age of your child. For instance on a TV show, you can say, “Isn’t it strange that the girl can’t ride on trucks?” and so on, so that your children don’t blindly believe what they hear and instead, keep an open mind themselves.

8. Avoid – toys that are based on gender. The Kinder Surprise Eggs come in 2 versions – girl and boy, as do Lego blocks. These promote this image that some things are meant only for one gender. That’s not a good message to pass on.

Ultimately though, there’s no real shame in having preconceived notions about a child’s likely personality traits or how they will behave based on their gender. Our culture is saturated with stereotypical examples about gender and it’s rather hard to ignore it. It’s not a big surprise that we have the urge to generalize too. But it’s crucial that we recognize the ways in which our kids are being short-changed in the world based on their gender. And there’s some work to be done to change that.

Image Source: Pixabay, Google Images

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