How Can Parents Raise Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes?

Ever thought about why we can’t keep our genders aside? 

Why are women drawn to certain things automatically while men are better at others? No matter how much we try to think in a gender-neutral way, there is that tiny-winy 1% that remains in the back of our minds that reflects in the way we do things. The simple answer would be its connection to our childhood. Studies show that young minds are more receptive to what they see or experience around them to form their thoughts. Therefore, getting exposed to gender stereotypes at an early age can affect them.

How parents shape young minds with gender stereotypes.

Our parents brought us up with tags and titles differentiating raising a girl from raising a boy. giving a pink doll to the girl and a blue jeep to the boy! These initial actions may seem to be normal, but over time our gendered worlds have lasting effects on the behaviour and choices of children.

Stereotypes in Sex determination?

Well, studies indicate that it starts even before the child is born. Mothers tend to recognize aggressive and adventurous movements as a boy and a soft movement as a girl. The shape and size of the bump, while a mother is expecting, is also sometimes used as a reference to figure out the sex of the child. 

What is the difference between sex and gender?

It takes me to an important point–the difference between sex and gender! While sex is a biological term that makes a child a male or a female, gender is something that a grown-up has the liberty to decide. 

This all becomes a bit complex for first-time parents given the way we have been brought up but it is necessary to understand this in time to nourish the minds of the little ones and free them from gender stereotypes from the very beginning. 

How to avoid forming gender stereotypes in young minds

  • Swap The Pinks and Blues!

First and foremost would be to avoid PINKS and BLUES! Don’t avoid these colors but avoid using these colors to justify the gender of your child. It would be a good idea to dress your boy in pink and dress your girl in blue. Swap the colors! Make it gender neutral so that your little girl doesn’t grow up to be navigating pinks everywhere and vice versa. This is a very small but crucial point to consider. I have seen people having baby showers with two different themes and later posting a blue-themed picture on Instagram if it would be a boy and a pink-themed picture to announce the birth of a girl. And this still exists giving us an idea that we are still transferring these to the little ones with or without knowing it. 

Give your little ones ample toys to choose from 

Gender stereotypes affect children

The second would be to choose your child’s toys carefully! Pre-nursery children tend to get an idea of their gender as they are given toys that describe their gender. For example, dolls and kitchen sets for the girls and cars and racing tracks for the boys. Parents usually don’t want their boys to play with beauty toys or kitchen sets, keeping them away from skills they might learn in the future. However, researchers believe that once a child gets stuck in this gender tribe, there is hardly a way to keep his/her mind away from gender biases.

It has also been found through several surveys that boys do like playing with dolls and girls do like playing with a ball. So, if as parents, we try and be as gender-neutral as possible while picking up the toys, it would be great for the nourishment of the child’s mind. Give your little ones the liberty to choose from ample toys designed for kids. But, make sure those toys are safe for them.

How to choose the best toys that are safe for your kids.

Language plays a crucial role in your child’s mental development

The way you speak to your child plays a larger role in their lives than you might think it does. Mothers tend to talk to their girls more on an emotional level than they do to their boys. This makes the girls grow up to be more receptive to being emotional, and boys tend to grow up feeling they lack the emotional side in them.

So, choose your words carefully while speaking with the little ones. Make sure you are not making your boy feel the pressure to be the rough and tough person in the house and your girl feels the need to cry and let her heart out all the time. It is important to treat them with an equal mindset where they feel free to show all of their sides to you. Also, indulge both of them in all types of activities without considering their gender. 

Pick up books that nourish their mind

No more princess stories only for girls and no more adventurous stories only for boys! This, essentially, means that you must choose the books based on the lessons they have and not on the gender of your child. Your boy might like listening to barbie stories, and your girl might have a penchant for reading adventurous stuff, so make sure you are feeding their mind with what they like and what lessons you want them to learn. Also, don’t pick up books that indicate gender biases with women doing household chores and men getting out of the house to work. It’s high time that we stop reading to them the story of Cinderella where a girl’s biggest accomplishment was to find a prince charming. Make sure you create a world for your little ones that is gender-neutral. 

Keep their comfort first while choosing clothes 

Remember every child is unique! Don’t try to fit them in the clothes being marketed for girls and boys. We are socially conditioned to fall for these marketing traps, but it is time to let go of them now. Buy clothes that fit and suit your little one. Children tend to feel comfortable in certain kinds of clothes so it would be great to buy more of those types than just buying everything for them. 

There are n number of ways in which parents shape their little ones’ minds. This fact was not known for years, but now as we are evolving socially, we shouldn’t ignore the need to be parents who condition their children to grow up as gender-neutral beings. These are just 5 points, and there could be hundreds of them, but broadly these simple tips would help you become a good parent for your little one. 

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