Teach Kids to Break Gender Stereotypes
We are individuals. Each with individual desires, thoughts, and feelings, regardless of gender
What are gender stereotypes and why do I need to talk to my kids about it?
Just the other day, my eldest daughter asked me this question over dinner:
"Mum, is pink a girly colour? Boys cannot like pink right, because pink is for girls?"
So I answered:
"Well generally that is what most people think. But I never liked pink and I'm a girl. My favourite colour is actually blue."
Gender stereotypes are generalisations about the roles of each gender. We need to address this to allow children to explore their own identities and to encourage an environment of inclusion.
Gender Stereotypes: Common Gender Stereotyping
List of some of the common cliched gender stereotypes below:
Female gender stereotypes
- Girls like dolls
- Pretty girls are bimbos
- Women can't be as strong as men
- Women are supposed to cook and do housework
- Women are responsible for raising children
Male gender stereotypes
- Boys play with robots and cars
- Men do not cook, sew, or do crafts
- Men are in charge; they are always at the top
- As husbands, men tell their wives what to do
- Men do not do housework and they are not responsible for taking care of children
Guilty As Charged
While people are starting to understand that stereotypes are untrue, many still make assumptions based on gender. Even I am guilty of stereotyping too: pink clothes and pretty onesies the moment we found out we were expecting a girl!
But now that the girls are older, I see a very distinct difference between the two of them. There was a period of time my eldest would whine and complain about wearing dresses. She loves Transformers, planes, and playing with the boys. She doesn't particularly like pretty things and prefers to be in shorts, running around.
The younger is the complete opposite of her older sister: loves dolls, loves dresses with flowy tule, tutus, playing cooking and singing.
I love my daughters however way they are. But was I worried about my eldest? Can't say I wasn't. There were thoughts like, "Should we buy more dresses? Maybe not let her watch Transformers?" (cue one raised eyebrow from the husband).
I'll be honest and say, it did cross my mind what if she ends up not liking dresses at all!? Call me old fashioned, or kotak or over protective. I admit I was a little concerned.
Gender Stereotypes: Fundamentals
We forget. Tossed and bombarded by culture, expectations and stereotypes ourselves, we forget we are all individuals. Each with individual desires, thoughts, and feelings, regardless of gender.
Children should be given the chance to be exposed to a variety of experiences. Not every child fits into society’s preconceived notion of what it means to be a boy or a girl and this is OK. If your daughter likes robotics, let her try it this school holiday. If your son would like to pick up cooking, send him for classes. Wouldn't it just melt your heart if he made you breakfast?
Read them these children books that challenges gender stereotypes. Have your children know that enrichment has no limitations. Today my eldest is a well balanced head strong girl who still prefers playing robots and fighting bad guys. She also fights in a dress.
Nurture and encourage them to try something out of the box, and you might just be pleasantly surprised.