Why is it that boys have to like the blue color and girls have to like the pink color? Does it have any significance? Who decides it? Is it you who decides it or is it the kids?
Why is there a different section for girls and boys in the toy shop? Furthermore, the boys’ section is filled with mostly toy guns and cars and on the other hand, the girls’ section is filled with barbies, kitchen sets, doctor sets, etc, why is there a distinction between the two?
This type of gender discrimination is instilled in the mind of a child from the very beginning and further impacts the growth of the child and their choices in the future. If the child is provided with a gender-neutral environment to nurture they will be confident about their choices and expressions. Gender-neutral parenting plays an important part in this whole process. Some of the urban parents are practicing this type of parenting. Parents are not restricting their child to do a certain type of chores at home. They are being taught that there are no gender-specific roles. They are educating their child about the various tales of heroic women and non-violent men in history as well as in the modern-day.
There is a lot that you can do at home to implement gender-neutral parenting for your child. We will talk about it.
Role of games in gender-neutral parenting
According to research, a child starts to develop its gender identity at the age of 2 and 3. Children tend to choose their likes and dislike based on their surroundings and their observations at home. The kind of toys they are introduced to makes a lot of difference in their future choice. By doing this we as a parent are stereotyping their mindset. We are making our kids believe that one gender is lesser than the other. It is important for you as a parent to provide them the right environment to make them open-minded individuals.
Some ancient gender-oriented games
According to an article by Princeton University,
“Pre-1950 games that are about voyagers and adventures typically feature male characters. Games designed for girls can be identified by their titles, issuing bodies (girls’ magazines), and the way female figures are portrayed as being engaged in domestic and indoor activities.”
Shin ’ an Gendai Fujin Sugoroku, an ancient Japanese game, follows the life of a girl from birth to adulthood, starting from when she is a newborn being breastfed to when she becomes a shy bride at around age 20. The player who first reaches the final panel, that is, who first gets married, wins the game.
Ancient games were made in such a way that the girl toddler was made to play such games and boy toddlers were made to play games on conquering and adventures. The post-war games saw some change in the type of games. They were designed in a way that the boys and girls were made to take trips around the world, together. Eventually, the games evolved and are still evolving to make them gender-neutral. In recent years global retail chains have changed their girl-boy sections of toys into gender-neutral sections.
One example of such a game is Awkward Moment in which players compare the best way to respond to various cringe-inducing scenarios. Some of the scenarios include sexism, like “While shopping at the mall, you notice a store is selling t-shirts for girls that say, ‘Math is hard’. Players then have to decide how best to respond to it. Responding to such scenarios lets the players think differently. According to a report,
“After playing Awkward Moment, people were asked to match pictures of men and women with possible job roles. Those who had played just one round of the game matched a woman with the “scientist” job title 58% of the time – 33% more than a control group who did not play any game at all, and 40% more than a group who played a neutral game that did not include any reference to gender bias.”
What can you do to make sure your child is gender sensitized?
1. Introduce gender-neutral toys
The games that are introduced in early childhood play a great role in establishing the right mindset of the child. You as a parent have to take care of it. Instead of getting dolls for girls and cars for boys, introduce gender-neutral games like board games, outdoor games, memory games, puzzles, etc. Tinway presents Nembo which has a variety of educational board games for children aged 10-12years. The games cover varied Math concepts which let the child clear the concepts along with acquiring 21st-century skills
2. Encourage your child to mingle more with the opposite gender
A lot of parents do not prefer sending their children to co-ed schools. If the child won’t get an environment to mingle around with the opposite gender then in the future they won’t feel comfortable or confident in interacting with them. At the same time, the child will become more sensitive towards the opposite gender and understand their perspective as well. As a parent, it becomes your responsibility to provide them with such opportunities.
3. Talking about gender issues age appropriately
Parents tend to shield the child from gender issues and violence that exists in our society. They get to know about these issues from their friends or other mediums which makes the child feel uncomfortable while talking about it. The more you talk to your child about gender issues, the more they will be respectful and gender-aware
4. Provide them space to express themselves
Parents at times tend to impose their choices on their children which restricts them from speaking out and think independently. At times, the color of the clothes, the type of clothes, the games to play, etc are all decided by the parents. Let the child make these choices for themselves and not by the norms set by society. Embrace their individuality.
There are several other basic things that you do to make your child gender sensitized. You will have to change your mindset to bring about these changes for your child. Start today by taking one tiny step at a time for your child’s better future.