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Gender stereotypes and their effect on children will be covered throughout this piece of writing as well as how gender stereotypes can be suppressed. Parents are one of the largest influence over children and will imprint on how children see themselves, who they think they are, who they should be, what they are worth, and what they can or can not do in society. That is why parents can help break the societal norms and defy the gender stereotypes that are set upon us at birth. Gender stereotypes not only affect the roles that we are supposed to take in society but also what chances we are or are not given in life that is primarily based on our gender. In recent time people are becoming more accepting of children being raised gender neutral. It is becoming popular with celebrities as well as everyday people because of the opportunities and advantages there are when a child is not labeled as either a male or female.
A stereotype be described as a generalization applied to a person or situation. Gender stereotypes are ingrained ideas about what behaviors are appropriate for Both males and females. Common gender stereotypes can include: that it is not acceptable for males to show too much emotion and cry; that men are strong and aggressive; that females should be submissive and weak. Young people are greatly aware of the stereotypes that are applied to gender by this age and day and will have begun to accept some of these as truths that are applied and known by everyone. Rigid gender stereotyping greatly encourages inequality between both sexes and can set children up to expect and accept power imbalances within relationships and opportunities later in life. They can be either accurate or inaccurate.
Stereotypes can affect a person, place, thing, or situation. A lot of people are affected by this but those who are affected most greatly are children. Of course both male and female and the effect can start as young as the age of five. This affects how people see others and also how they are judged. As mentioned earlier this does affect both male and females but the effect is different for each gender, positive or negative. With gender stereotypes being placed upon us at birth it affects our life chances which are opportunities or possibilities, “children need to live in a world where all possibilities are open to them. They need to live amongst no gender limitations and differences”(Gender Stereotyping).
Children’s behavior and understanding of acceptable masculine or feminine qualities come from their parents influence. Parents influence their children’s view of gender and how they decide what it means to be a female or male. Children are influenced by their parents roles they take on inside and outside their home and through the language that is used with the children themselves. Furthermore, how parents connect with other people such as friends and family members can impact the children’s expectations of personal and non-personal relationships. In most societies, gender is constantly made salient and it is near impossible to completely eliminate gender stereotyping.
A child’s burgeoning sense of self, or self-concept, is a result of the multitude of ideas, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that he or she is exposed to. The information that surrounds the child and which the child internalizes comes to the child within the family arena through parent-child interactions, role modeling, reinforcement for desired behaviors, and parental approval or disapproval (Santrock, 1994). As children move into the larger world of friends and school, many of their ideas and beliefs are reinforced by those around them.
A further reinforcement of acceptable and appropriate behavior is shown to children through the media, in particular, television. Through all these socialization agents, children learn gender stereotyped behavior. As children develop, these gender stereotypes become firmly entrenched beliefs and thus, are a part of the child’s self-concept.There was an NYC news article on, why girls don’t think they are good enough. It explains that there were two experiments held and that there were ninety-six children that participated and there was an equal division of male and female.
For the first experiment, the children that were age five were told two stories. One story was about a person who was really really nice and the other story was about a person who was really really intelligent. At the age of five years old the children equally assigned the person of intelligence with their own gender. The second experiment was with children that were six years old and the same stories were told. The female children were less likely to associate the story of intelligence with their own gender and with the male children the association had stayed the same(Why Young Girls).
Overall and in the long run gender stereotypes affect children negatively even if it cannot be seen, “it has been well-established that gender stereotypes have an overwhelmingly negative impact on our young children”(Gender Stereotyping). In a society which is rife with gender stereotypes and biases, children regularly learn to adopt gender roles which are not always fair to both sexes. As children move through childhood and into adolescence, they are exposed to many factors which influence their attitudes and behaviors regarding gender roles. These attitudes and behaviors are generally learned first in the home and are then reinforced by the child’s peers, school experience, and television viewing.
However, the strongest influence on gender role development seems to occur within the family setting, with parents passing on, both overtly and covertly, to their children their own beliefs about gender. This overview of the impact of parental influence on gender role development leads to the suggestion that an androgynous gender role orientation may be more beneficial to children than strict adherence to traditional gender roles.We should start breaking societal ‘norms’. A norm can be described as, a basic rule of society that helps us know what is and is not appropriate to do in a situation. Norms evolve over time as social attitudes and expectations change.
At a young age, children divide themselves by gender and with that each child is more likely to follow their gender stereotype because they will think some options are closed off to them because of their gender. If there is encouragement with gender play than those chances of the children falling into their stereotypes will lessen, “encourage their young children to mingle and play with boys and girls. This will help to minimise the effects of gender segregation”(Gender Stereotyping). Another way to lessen the likelihood of gender stereotypes is to praise children by telling them they are a smart kid or a good kid instead of using gender-based phrases such as ‘you are such a good boy’, and ‘you are a nice girl’, “replace this gendered terms with non-gendered ones and gender will be less important for your kid”(Gender Stereotyping).
Children who have parents with strong egalitarian values tend to be more knowledgeable about nonsex-typed objects and occupations than other children. Children whose mothers work outside the home are not as traditional in sex role orientation as children whose mothers stay home. Children whose mothers work outside the home experience the world with a sense that everyone in the family gets to become a member of the outside world and their sense of self-includes the knowledge that they have the ability to make choices which are not hindered by gender. Families with one or more androgynous parent have been found to be highest on scores of parental warmth and support, “these androgynous parents are found to be highly encouraging regarding achievement and developing a sense of self-worth in sons and daughters”(Parental Influence).
Because of the strong influence of parents on gender role socialization, those parents who wish to be gender fair and encourage the best in both their sons and their daughters would do well to adopt an androgynous gender role orientation and encourage the same in their children. In recent time it is very slowly becoming common and accepted to raise children gender neutral. Gender and sex are different, although most people think they are the same. Sex can be defined as, a person that classifies as a male or female based on anatomical or chromosomal criteria. Gender can be defined as, social forces that create the difference between men’s and women’s behavior, preferences, treatment, and opportunities, and the characteristics of men and women that reflect these forces.
One of the most recent celebrities to come out and say that they are raising their children gender-neutral is Pink, “we are a very label-less household”(Pink on why she’s raising her child as gender neutral). Pink is a widely known music artist who has been around since the nineties. She has two children who were born as female and male. She is quite intent on raising her daughter as gender neutral so that she is able to make free choices that will not be dictated by what society thinks women should or should not do and can or can not do. There are also many everyday people who are raising their children gender neutral so that their children have more and better life chances. Society sets limitations based on gender and most of the time the limits are not fair for either male or female.
Overall stereotypes and gender stereotypes are social generalizations that have been around since the beginning of time. The predictive generalizations can be either accurate or inaccurate in portraying the subject. Rigid gender stereotyping promotes inequality between the sexes and can set young people up to expect and accept power imbalances within relationships later in life. The effect of gender stereotypes is often and usually negative for both male and female. It starts affecting people as young as the age of five which is when children start to form ideas of themselves, what they are worth, and what they can do in society.
Children are greatly influenced by their parent or parents through the roles they are assigned inside and outside their home and through language that is used with children themselves. How parents interact with other adults, children, and family members can impact the children’s expectations of personal relationships. Because of the strong influence of parents on gender role socialization, those parents who wish to be gender fair and encourage the best in both their sons and their daughters would do well to adopt an androgynous gender role orientation and encourage the same in their children.
In most societies, gender is constantly made salient and it is near impossible to completely eliminate gender stereotyping. In modern time it is slowly becoming common and normal to raise a child or children gender neutral. Parents are starting to realize the long terms effects of raising children based off of gender stereotypes and that they actually have fewer opportunities in life if they are categorized as either male or female.
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