Monday, October 1, 2012

Sex Role and Stereotypes Part.I

Sex roles tell children what types of behavior are acceptable for their gender. Unlike gender, however, sex roles are not irrevocably molded. Adults may share or exchange roles such as breadwinner, housekeeper and nurturer, depending on their age and culture. And during childhood, toddlers experiment with, and even reverse, sexual roles before reaching a healthy norm. Providing model’s for a child’s sexual behavior used to be simple: Boys imitated their fathers and girls followed their mothers.

Nowadays, parents must compete with outside influences, from the peer pressures of preschools to the appeal of television. At the same time, many parents have abandoned the rigid concepts of role - or stereotypes – that encouraged assertive, aggressive behavior only in boys, while ascribing passive, dependent roles to girls. In guiding your child through this confusing and controversial stage, remember that rigidly-enforced stereotypes can damage your child’s emotional and sexual development. While boys will be boys and girls will be girls, parents should recognize that both genders encompass shades of masculinity and femininity.

 In their attempts to learn who they really are, boys may play with dolls and pretend to have babies, while girls may favor trucks and act out the parts of fathers. Such role-switching play is perfectly normal at the toddler stage and should not be interpreted as a sign of sexual confusion or maladjustment. Allow your toddler to experiment, while at the same time helping her understand clearly that she belongs to one sex. You can reinforce your child’s gender identity and still react positively to cross-gender play. If your tow-year-old son is bathing a doll, do not assume that he is playing at being a mother; instead, praise him for being a considerate daddy. Usually children’s experimentation with sex roles will diminish around the age of three. Regardless of how they play, make sure to instill in your little ones the feeling that you value them for the individuals they are, whether male or female.