Tips for Avoiding Enforcing Gender Stereotypes on Children

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Gender stereotyping reinforces the concept that women and men have completely different roles in society, and that these lines should not be crossed. Women are often brought up in a manner that promotes qualities that are considered feminine, such as mothering, cleaning, and attending to the concerns of others whereas men are brought up to emulate masculine qualities, such as to be physically strong and athletic.

While there is nothing wrong with either sex taking on these roles through choice, children often find themselves being placed into these boxes from a young age, and many parents don’t even realize that they’re feeding into these ideas.

If you want to give your children more autonomy over how they define themselves and the roles they undertake within their genders, then here are some tips for how to avoid enforcing gender stereotypes on children.

Clothing Choices

One of the reasons why many people like to know the sex of their child in advance is so that they can start buying clothes for their children before they are born. Most children’s clothes are very clearly divided into male and female gender identities, and most parents feel they need to conform to the clothing colors and styles which suit the sex of their child. However, if you want to subvert these ideals and avoid labeling your child from an early age, then rather than sticking to a pink or blue color scheme, you may consider buying them clothing in a wide variety of materials, shades, and designs. While a newborn will not care what they are wearing, this is will have an impact on how other people respond to your child and the stereotypes that they enforce on them from an outside perspective.

Toys and Interaction

Many parents don’t realize it, but the way in which they interact with their children can be heavily influenced by how they perceive their gender. For example, a male parent may be more boisterous in play with a male-presenting child and encourage them into sporting games, whereas they may be more reserved when playing with a female-presenting child. This encourages a learned response from children, who may then believe there are differences in how a girl or boy can act.

To combat this, try to treat your children as equally as possible, and introduce them to a wide array of games and toys which span outside of gender conformity. For example, instead of only buying dolls and hair accessories for a girl, you could also buy them figurines from which are typically reserved for boys. Nowadays the divide between males and females when it comes to comics, anime and gaming is closing.

Allowing for Open Expression

From quite a young age, children will have a sense of what their gender identity is and whether or not they conform to the common gender roles which are placed on each individual sex. Once children have the capacity to start expressing themselves, it is vital that they are given the space to do so.

It is also important to remember that the way a child expresses themselves may not be a direct indication towards their gender identity; for example, regardless of where their identity lies along the gender spectrum, a lot of children will want to experiment with things such as hairstyles and makeup simply because it seems like a fun activity to them.

Thanks to Zaklina

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