My son recently happened to see an advertisement for famous chocolate for kids marked specially for a boy and girl in specific colors. My child was curious to know why there is a distinction in chocolate which is to be enjoyed by all kids. The reason behind such marking was for easy differentiation of cute and colorful toys packed inside the chocolate. This is clearly one of the effective marketing strategies to target kids of all gender.
The term gender does not just hold the biological difference between a man and a woman. It includes so many aspects where one can learn, understand and mould their personality. Kids need not be taught specifically about gender. By the time they complete the toddler stage, they understand the physical differences between males and females. They develop their own gender identity. In our society, Schools and Parents influence kids in their interests, likes and dislikes right from their childhood. These preferences and interests towards a particular activity, colour or toy come from their observations at home and surroundings. We always wish that our kids not be differentiated or treated differently based on their gender. We need to break the stereotypes based on gender and create a difference in their thoughts and attitude.
Our role as Parents
Our present scenario demands kids to be developed into thoughtful, caring, responsible and sensible adults in society. So, we have a crucial role in their lives as a mentor, guides and role models. We should understand when we should step in to make things clear in terms of gender. Once kids are aware of the concept of gender there would be many instances where their attitude or actions can result in discrimination or hurtful behavior. As parents, we have a moral responsibility of making them understand the right things and instill and inculcate values necessary for their future. Few things to be touched upon when teaching the concept of gender are gender sensitivity and gender equality.
The change we wish to see in society should start from ourselves, from our homes. Few changes at home can greatly impact the thoughts they could adhere to in the future.
What is Gender sensitivity?
Gender sensitization refers to respecting and accepting other gender differences without any discrimination. It creates a thought of respect, and compassion for the other gender and treats them without any bias.
This mindset when infused in kids help them to accept and understand of people’s different perceptions of who they are as a gender, what they like, etc. On the other hand, the child would feel a sense of freedom about themselves boosting their confidence and self-esteem
Few changes at the household can make tremendous changes in their social attitude and behavior. It starts from home when mummy and daddy shares chores of the household equally when the same rules are imposed for a boy and girl child at home when cooking is no longer moms’ business. These observations in a child from his childhood can create a massive impact when he or she grows up.
Few tips for gender neutral environment at home
Be a role model
Let us lead by example. Kids are fast learners and when it is done through observation and imitating rather than teaching. When a child sees that both parents are involved in chores at home, kids understand that no work is gender specific.
Gender-neutral toys for kids
Parents decide on the toys for their kids based on their gender. Investing in gender-neutral toys is one of the foremost steps in creating the desired gender-sensitive space at home. Toys such as building blocks, memory, shape-associated games, puzzles, toys that have wheels, etc would be ideal for young kids.
Children are always curious in their minds and questions pop out as they encounter new things. Don’t shy away in answering such topics we often tend to hesitate to open up. Be open and honest in your answers so that it creates a better understanding of the opposite gender.
Allow to express themselves
We as parents tend to impose so many things in our children’s life right from the outfits they wear to their interests. When it comes to hobbies and extracurriculars, we are ready to push our children in a certain direction. Instead, let them explore the things that interest them and expose themselves to various fields to pursue their passion. If we encourage them to follow their own interest, they will be confident and emerge as a winner.
Abolish stereotypes at home
Whenever you encounter any gender stereotypes teach them that it is wrong and things can work differently. We also casually assign certain emotions associated with particular gender like crying for girls and shouting for boys. Let’s not stop kids and encourage them to enjoy and play with a football or a kitchen set. These small gestures help them to ignite their spirit of imagination and creativity.
Gender is an emotional understanding of one’s identity based on social culture and one’s own expectations and preferences. Let us build a gender-equal society through little steps and nurture such great attitudes in the minds of a future generations too.