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Boxing and Labeling Children: the Wrong Method of Parenting

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When I was a child I had all “girly” things.Dolls, make up, pink clothes, dresses and barbies. While my younger brother had nerf guns, trucks, and blue clothing, That was in the late 1990s and that’s all people knew at the time. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Girls should play with dolls, boys should play with trucks. Their was no such thing as gender equality. But 22 years later here I am raising a 3.5 year old girl.But I don’t want her to have that perception in life so how can we teach gender equality to our children? “Boys will be boys and girls will be girls”. We usually use that as an excuse for our childs behavior.

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Don’t do that. Girls rough house as much as the boys do. But just as we associate boys with aggressive behavior we are so quick to label our girls as Mean Girls.” Let’s take that label off our children and just encourage them to be compassionate and empathetic human beings. Let their other caregivers, aunts, uncle’s, cousins, grandma, grandpa and even their teachers know you will not allow there gender to be an excuse for their behavior. Let them share their feelings. We let our girls talk to us all the time about how they’re feeling and we let them cry. But what do we tell our boys? “Boys don’t cry” or “boys don’t have feelings.” But they do. They are no less of a human just because they’re a boy. Encourage your boy to share his feelings and let him cry it won’t make him any less of a man one day. Girls are timid, boys are wild. When I go to the playground with my girl I often see the mother of a boy child letting him run off and be wild and free. He’ll jump from the top of the play fire pole all the way to the bottom without a second thought. However I also see a mother of a daughter closely watching her daughter maybe even standing right next to her as she’s at the top of the play fire pole.

The moment the daughter alerts her mother that she’s scared or claims that she can’t jump to the bottom like the boys did what does the mother do? Allows her daughter to come down off the structure maybe even guides her down or maybe even goes up to the top and helps her daughter down. We have this idea in our head that girls are timid and oh so fragile like a glass doll and boys are just rambunctious, loud, and crazy. Let’s break that idea. Let’s encourage bravery in our girls and allow them to fall then get back up again. Encourage both of our boys and girls to engage in risky play such as climbing to the top of the tree because that will give them a sense of accomplishment like “yes! I made it to the top!!” it’ll also allow them to get a bird’s-eye view of the world. Or let them ride their scooter down the big hill the’ll love the feeling and the thrill of almost but not quite losing control.Show them role models. Another surefire way to break this stereotyping is to show them that girls can do the same as boys and boys can do the same as girls. Like a female police officer or a male nurse. Male or female the job still gets done and the job is still the same.

A female police officer takes bad people off the street just like a male police officer does. A male nurse takes care of sick people just as much as a female nurse does.Education. Even in utero we have already exposed them to gender stereotyping. When a doctor exclaims it’s a boy or a girl parents will either go and buy all pink stuff or will go and buy all blue stuff. Let’s change that. Give your kids books where both boys and girls are heroes and go on big adventures. Or next time your at the department store and your son wants a doll let him have that doll or if your daughter wants a Spiderman toy let her have that Spider-Man toy. My daughter has quite a handful of superhero shirts and a convoy of toy planes, trucks, and boats and that’s okay. Don’t let society dictate what toys your child plays with or what clothes your child wears. Let your child express themselves and be who they want to be. Trust them. Encourage them. Shower them with love, because in the end when they spread their wings and learn to fly they’ll be our next generation of hope for a bright a future. They’ll turn out fine! And remember their is absolutely no difference between us.

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