Gender stereotypes

‘I don’t like princesses they are for girls’ ‘Boys can’t have long hair’ ‘I can’t be a ballerina because boys don’t like dancing’ – these are some opinions some of our Pre-School children have shared with us over the last term. Have you ever stopped to think about how we can challenge some of these stereotypes? Where do children get these views from and how can we break them?

Our aim at Little Hands, is to provide every child with a rich set of inclusive experiences which supports and values their sense of self. Becoming confident to share their views within a safe environment and having an awareness of some of the differences in society.

Over the last term we have worked with our pre-school children to challenge some of these stereotypes. Here is how we have worked on challenging the stereotypes and some ideas for home:

I can’t be a ballerina because boys don’t like dancing’ – Challenging these views and stereotypes has been a success with children in Pre-School as they have taken part in lots of ballet dancing, yoga and dancing. Our skilful Early Years professionals encouraged the children to watch Swan Lake.

‘I don’t like princesses, they are for girls’ – Having regular conversations with children to challenge their opinions and provide an alternative view is so important. Quite often for some of our boys as a man working with children I will often say to the children ‘my favourite princess is’ ‘I have pink t-shirts’ at home, these actively challenge the stereotypes. This also works the other way for female members of the team who often share their interests with the children discussing how they love to play football or love superheroes.

‘Boys can’t have long hair’- Encouraging children to recognise differences and develop an acceptance of their individual characteristics is so important. You can help by talking about gender in a broad sense such as children instead of boys / girls and families.

There are lots of examples of how Gender Stereotypes can be challenged at home – here are some key points:

  1. Tell a girl she’s great because of what she does and not because of how she looks; try, ‘I like your skipping’ not ‘I like your hair’
  2. Praise a boy when he shares and displays co-operative behaviour with other children
  3. Tell a girl it’s OK to say if there’s something she’s good at
  4. Encourage girls to play in the mud or get sweaty
  5. Encourage boys to play in the home corner, or with dolls
  6. Tell girls it’s OK to get angry and to express this in a healthy way
  7. Tell boys it’s OK to be scared, upset or emotional
  8. Tell a boy that it’s OK to dress up as a nurse or butterfly and a girl that it’s OK to dress up as a fire-fighter or pirate
  9. Tell a boy that being called a girl isn’t an insult, because boys and girls are equally important
  10. Encourage all children to think about things that they have in common with each other, and emphasise their similarities over differences

(ZeroTolerance.Org.Uk – Just Like A Child)



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