We don’t think it unusual to see girls playing with baby dolls and boys playing with toy army men. But we often feel uneasy if we see them trade toys. Sometimes, we even react with shock and/or anger. According to experts, if children are allowed to investigate all that is possible, even taking away the gender bias, they will grow into well-rounded adults. So the idea of your little princess playing cowboys and Indians and your little man playing house should not be seen as unnatural but instead and a means of opening the doors of a fuller potential for them.
By the age of one, children have begun to form their own gender identity concept, such as a sense of being a girl or a boy. Though some say the biology determines gender identity, the majority of psychologists are of the belief that it is determined by the environment a child lives in, such as the manner in which he or she is treated by parents, other relatives and other children. After children establish gender identity, gender stability begins to take place. During this time, children start to develop gender-specific behaviors.
Developing to their full potential is an opportunity that all children should be given equally even though they may differ physically. Emotional stability and self-image can get a positive boost from doing this. The removal of gender stereotypes frees your children to investigate and develop hidden talents and gifts that would otherwise have not have been uncovered.
Children can be raised with nonsexist viewpoints and learn to be respectful of both men and women equally. Children’s formation of attitudes, actions and outlooks that are bias-free depend a lot on the positive interactions with teachers and parents. For example, cleaning their rooms and putting away their own clothes should be encouraged equally in both girls and boys. Though it is usually a woman who does the cleaning doesn’t mean that it is something only for women to do. It also helps if the parents trade chores from time to time. Mom can mow the lawn and rake leaves while dad does the laundry and cooks a few meals.
Expressing emotions is something that boys as well as girls should be allowed to do. A girl should have as much right to exhibit assertiveness and vent frustration as a boy should to break down and cry when he is upset. Compassion and nurturing should be encouraged in boys and girls should be instilled with courage and praise.
Initiating Discussions on Gender Issues with Kids. During a movie or TV program, ask these questions of your children:
How many characters are there in all in the program? Of these, what is the number of boys and what is the number of girls?
Is the behavior of the boys different than that of the girls? In what way? What do you think is the reason for this?
How many aggressive or violent characters are there in the program? Of these, how many of them were boys?
If you had your choice, which character would you want to be? What is the reason for your choice?
What did you think was good about the program? Was there anything that bothered you?
Asking these questions will aid you to more effectively help your child be introduced to gender sensitivity. Not only will these questions aid the promotion of equality, but will teach your child to be more sensitive to the nature of other people and attain personal responsibility. You also teach your child to be an independent thinker and not always depend on the opinions of others so much of the time.
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