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Gender Stereotyping – What Is It and How to Avoid It

2018 February 12

The topic of gender stereotyping with regards to children has been gaining a lot of traction in the news and online. You’ve probably already seen at least one article, video or news feature on this topic.

But what is it?

Gender stereotyping is associating certain expectations or ideals depending upon someone’s gender. In relation to children, this could be that typically, girls should like the colour pink and should play with dolls and kitchen sets, whereas boys should like the colour blue and should be more physical in their play, making mess or playing with action figures and video games.

Even today, you can usually see gender stereotyping in shops and advertising. In your local toy catalogue look at the types of toys being played with by boys and girls and you’ll probably notice some of things mentioned above. The same can be applied to clothing stores. Even as adults, think of the ‘gifts for him’ and ‘gifts for her’ categories when shopping for Valentine’s, Birthday and Christmas presents.

Gender stereotyping can affect the way we raise our children, which is why we’ve put together some simple tips to help you avoid this and stay neutral:

  • Watch your words – When shopping for toys with your child do you hear yourself saying things like, ‘That’s a boys toy, you don’t want that’ or ‘Only girls play with dolls, let’s get you some dinosaurs’?
  • Don’t worry about what toys your child chooses to play with, so long as they’re playing, that’s the important part. You’ll notice that their tastes and preferences will change over time and it’s helpful for their development if you sit back and let them decide, instead of you making the decision for them. This can work wonders in building their confidence and independence.
  • Provide a variety of toys to choose from whilst playing at home. Let your child explore the different toys and see which one’s they like and which they don’t. Each discovery will lead them closer to building their own sense of identity.
  • Take part – if your little boy wants to host a tea party, be his guest and be supportive. If your daughter wants to play firefighters, help her to set up an ‘incident’ with toys she needs to rescue.

What’s your view on gender stereotyping? We’d love to see your opinions and tips in the comments!

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