As a child care provider, how do you discuss gender stereotypes and gender identity with your children? Do you worry when boys dress up like girls? Do you know how to respond when a child says, “You throw like a girl”? Does it concern you when a little boy believes he’ll grow up to be a mom? Do children in your program—both boys and girls—have the chance to play with all kinds of toys?
Helping Children Understand Gender
As children grow, they learn that some people are girls and some are boys. They learn to say “he” or “she.” That is called learning to understand gender. Children begin to understand the differences between males and females around the age of two. It is one of the first ways that children learn to put people in categories. Children also begin to learn gender stereotypes—narrow understandings of what males and females are like—at a very early age.
Stereotypes can be a problem. Many times,
they are not accurate. They do not apply to all people. Stereotypes might
make girls who like to play sports feel that there is something wrong
with them. Boys who play with dolls may be called sissies. As a childcare
provider, you can help parents and children understand gender. You can
work with parents to help girls and boys develop in healthy ways, not
following stereotypes. You and the parents can help children to explore
new things and accomplish goals whatever their gender.
For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at email@example.com
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