Tips to Encourage
Healthy Gender Development of Boys and Girls
As you care for children, you can help children learn to
do many things, whether they are girls or boys. Parents can also do some
of the same things to help their children learn about gender. Some parents
may be uncomfortable with some of these ideas. They may want you to do
some things with boys and other things with girls. You need to respect
the parents’ wishes, but you also may be able to make them aware
of new approaches. Make sure they know that play in early childhood does
not make a child gay or lesbian. Explain how children learn to understand
gender. Explain that non-gendered play simply helps children learn many
things and enjoy many activities. Below are some tips to help children
learn and help parents teach children different things. You may want to
look at some additional
tips and information, too.
• Help each child
to have success in many different areas. All children need to be active,
creative, and sensitive. Allow
children to do many things whether
they are boys or girls.
• When watching television or movies
with children, talk about what you see. Explain the messages in the programs
commercials. Talk about your own
beliefs and values.
• Be a good role model. Do many different
things. Explain to the children that gender usually does not matter.
• Be honest when children ask about
similarities and/or differences between boys and girls. Use correct words
• Praise boys and girls equally on
the same tasks.
• Provide opportunities for boys and
girls to watch men and women in a variety of roles. For example, give
them a chance
to see female construction workers
or male nurses.
• Encourage children to play with
both boys and girls. But be ready for them to say they do not want to
do that at some
friendships may develop later.
• Provide toys that are not just for
a boy or a girl. Let children use their imaginations and create their
own toys with
boxes, art supplies, sheets, etc.
• Make positive statements about girls
and boys. Say nice things about both genders.
• Ask a child what he/she likes and
dislikes first. Do not expect all boys or all girls to like the same things.
• Think about your choices. Try to
interact with boys as much as girls and vice versa. If you are worried,
you might want
to make a chart of the activities
you do with each child. You could see if you need to change something.
• Encourage boys to play dress-up,
house, and dolls. Encourage girls to play with trucks,
blocks, and sports equipment.
• Children may make comments like,
“Girls don’t play with trucks!” You could explain to
them that boys and girls can do
many of the same things.
• Try the same activities with boys
and girls. For example, snuggle and wrestle with both boys and girls.
Go to: •