How far gender stereotypes have changed in this day and age. We now live in a time when women are not expected to be just bored housewives but independent and capable females. We also accept that men can get emotional at times and there is nothing wrong with that. What can we do as parents to pass on these important messages to our young children? Here are 6 tips on how you can start addressing gender stereotypes today.
What’s your child’s preference?
First and foremost, it’s about what your kids want. Don’t worry about what other parents think and I would encourage you to pass on the same message to your children. It is about what they want to do and what they enjoy doing. If your son has a strong interest in jewellery making, let them do it! As long as they feel comfortable and have a good time doing what they love, we need to support our child’s decision.
Will this activity continually challenge and improve your child’s self development?
Sometimes letting our kids do something outside of the ‘gender norm’ can prove to be more beneficial for their self development. My friend has a son who is extremely active and loves sport. He is definitely one that belongs to the Boys Club. His downfall is that he is a very bad loser and possess zero patience. My friend thought perhaps something like learning the piano would help to calm his over-active mind. And to her surprise - it worked! Her son now loves having the balance of playing Rugby, Tennis and the piano.
Give your kids varieties during play time
Kids are blank canvases so there’s no right or wrong when it comes to kids activities during play time. Don’t think that just because you have a household of boys, you need to get them to play sports all day. Or that your daughter must only play with tea sets and Barbies. Give your kids a variety of toys and activities that are gender-neutral to choose from that have not been hand picked by you based on gender bias.
Organise boys and girls play dates
Organising play dates is a good way to educate your kids on how to ‘play nice with the opposite sex’. During the play dates, prepare games and toys that are gender-neutral that both sexes can participate in and play together harmoniously. Crafty activities like face painting would be a fun activity for both boys and girls to participate together because there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to play, regardless of your gender.
Educate your kids about gender stereotypes
It is important as parents that we address gender stereotypes head-on with our kids. If you catch your son making unpleasant comments about girls being weak or not being capable of achieving certain things on their own just because of their gender, make sure you have a good talk to them and correct their misconception. Read stories and watch movies together and point out ‘typical’ feminine or masculine ideas that you might notice.
So, don’t freak out the next time you son prefer to dress in something a bit brighter and more colourful or your daughter prefer action figures over Barbies, it is all part of self exploration while growing up. Take a look through our ActiveActivities directory for a wide range of fun activities for both boys and girls.
Lauren has two very excitable school age kids, as well as a full time corporate career. She manages to juggle the two roles and (mostly) maintain her sanity with the help of her ever-supportive partner. Lauren particularly loves cycling, as well as taking nourishing breaks in quieter parts of New Zealand. She lives with her family in Auckland and began blogging for ActiveActivities recently.