Blue is often used for boys, and pink for girls. Boys are taught to be rough, and girls more delicate. Boys may not be allowed to play with dolls, and girls may be discouraged from playing with trucks or Legos.
Gender identity of American children is influenced from the day they are born.
It’s OK for children to be proud of their gender, but gender stereotypes often get in the way. Boys sometimes don’t get to express their feelings (“Boys don’t cry!”), which can lead to frustration and aggression later in life. Girls sometimes don’t get to express their leadership skills (“Don’t be bossy!”), which can lead to frustration and depression later in life.
Tips to allow children to explore their world without gender stereotypes:
- Teach by example. Notice how you treat your son or daughter. If you have each, treat them with the same respect and tenderness.
- Encourage boys and girls to play together. This leads to a wider variety of activities that are less gender-stereotyped.
- Support behaviors that challenge stereotypes. Tell your daughter that it is a good idea to wear pants so she can climb on the monkey bars. Tell your son that it is OK to cry when he is sad.
- Questions your child’s comments about gender. If your children say they can’t do something because of their gender, ask them why they think that or where they learned that.
- Read books together that break gender stereotypes.