Whether you realize it or not, there are a lot of gender stereotypes in our society. These are an oversimplified conception about the social roles of male and female elements. Our society is built in such a way that even if we don't want to create them, the phenomenon occurs unknowingly. For instance, in our society, a man is supposed to be tougher and stronger than women, and sexually aggressive. He is not supposed to cry and is rowdy. A woman, on the other hand, is supposed to be polite, soft, gentle, pretty, and smarter than men, and men dependent. She is allowed to cry at times, and should always be well dressed up.
These stereotypes, though not harmful, may convey some negative messages to your child. So, if you don't want your child to be caught up in them, you should carry out certain steps for avoiding them. Researches have shown that parents can play an important role in helping their children to come out of these stereotypes. They can even help their child in finding out some healthy ways to cope with them.
Mentioned below are some tips that may help you in avoiding them:
- First of all, avoid passing stereotypical statements. You should be very careful while talking about a child's gender. A statement like "Boys shouldn't cry", or "A girl is not supposed to act like this", may result in unhealthy gender stereotypes.
- Let your child play with the things he likes. If a boy wants to play with dolls, let him play with them. If a girl wants to play with toy cars or trucks, let her play. Don't make comments like "Boys shouldn't play with dolls", or "Girls shouldn't play with trucks".
- Help your child in doing the things he/she wants to do. Don't worry about what other people think. If your daughter wants to join karate classes or participate in sports, encourage her in doing so. If your son wants to join a dance class, don't stop him worrying what others will think.
- Let your child dress up in a way he/she wants. Don't pass comments like "Girls should always be well dressed", or "Girls should not make their clothes dirty". Let your child wear the color that he/she wants. Don't say, "Pink color is meant for girls, and boys shouldn't wear it".
- Avoid giving gender stereotypical gifts to your child. Most of the parents do that; they buy a doll for their daughter and a bat for their son. These gifts are not bad, but they result in developing negativity in the long term. Therefore, you can buy a gift that is suitable for both a girl and a boy.
- Don't be overprotective about your girls, and don't over pamper them. If they want to go out alone, let them go. If they are crying from frustration, don't hug them, or feel sorry for them. Instead, you can push them a little harder, telling them that they are capable of more.
- Do not lay emphasis on the physical appearance of your daughter. Instead, you can focus on her skills, talents, and abilities. Talk with her about what she can do, rather than how beautiful she looks in her pink dress.
- What a child watches or hears also matters. So, be aware of the things he/she is watching or hearing. On television, there are many shows or programs that can, directly or indirectly, convey negative messages to them. Talk to them about what they are watching and hearing.