Raising a child without Gender Bias

gender biasness in kids should be avoided- Parenting resources by ZenParent

Gender stereotyping is a part of our lives since birth. The world around us is constantly instilling in us what we should and should not be doing.  Girls are taught that they should be fair , skinny and well-groomed.  Men should be brave, strong, career oriented and should not cry.  However, thankfully, career stereotypes are being broken down every day.  Men can be flight attendants  and women can be pilots and the sooner our children internalize this reality, the more open-minded they can be about their career options in the future. However, unconsciously, we may be priming our children to follow certain stereotypical patterns. Being conscious of these is the first step towards raising a child without gender bias.

1. Toys: If your son asks for a doll, would you buy it for him? Admit it, it is easier buying a tool kit for your daughter than a dollhouse for your son. Children especially when they are toddlers and preschoolers have not yet been exposed to gender stereotyping and will be open to wearing all kind of clothes and playing with any kind of toy. So seize the opportunity to expose them to all kinds of toys without designating them as gender specific.

gender bias in kids- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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2. Activities: If your daughter is interested in cricket, find an academy around you that has a girl’s team and nurture her interest. She would learn so much from being engaged in sports. If your son is interested in dance, encourage him to explore it.

3. Avoid Clichés: Language and words play a huge role in how our kids see the world around them. “Boys don’t cry”, “Girls should cook” “Girls are not good at math” “ Boys cannot wear pink”are all phrases that reinforce gender bias. Consciously avoid these traps that we usually fall into.

4. Chores: Don’t imagine that only your daughter should learn to cook and your son should learn to hammer a nail. My 9 year old son makes fantastic dosas while my daughter can really hammer a nail in place, but hates to step into the kitchen. Shuffle all household chores without gender bias so that your kids are not assuming that only certain types of household jobs are done by boys or girls. Recall all the times that you were frustrated that your spouse believed it to be “your” job because he/she was not mentally raised to do those jobs.

5. Exposure: People’s thoughts are influenced by what they see. Watch movies like ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ (football), ‘A league of their own’ (baseball), Hunger Games etc which break free from gender stereotypes. Talk to your children about trail blazers like Kalpana Chawla, Danica Patrick(Formula 1 Driver) etc.  The movie ‘Brave’ was a welcome breath of fresh air from the Disney stable that usually specializes in powerless princesses needing to be rescued by knights in shining armour.  Consistently talking to your children about pioneers who have carved out their own paths beating gender stereotypes.

helping kids not become gender bias- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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Stereotypes are well entrenched in our society and in our minds and it takes a lot of conscious parenting even for us to get rid of the biases with which we have been raised too. Some parents even feel that getting a doll for their son might make him gay which is unacceptable. Breaking these barriers expands the opportunities for self exploration for your child and develops their brain in multiple dimensions. So the next time you catch yourself assuming that the class teacher is a woman or the CEO is a man, pause and reflect on your own barriers- What are you subconsciously transferring to your child?

Click here to know which gender-specific toys to avoid for kids.

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