The early years of a child’s life is imperative to learning and development. These are the years that the children develop their fine, motor, gross and cognitive skills, but it’s also where they develop their identity: who they are, what they believe in and the morals they live by. These are all shaped by the environment around them and the adults they look up to.
Therefore, it’s so important to start introducing the difficult topics into their lives now, and being the adults in their life, it’s our responsibility to ensure that they are prepared to contribute to developing a brighter future with less discrimination based off gender, age and culture.
Here are some tips on how we can introduce the topic of gender equality and the things we can do to promote a mentality that they can carry on through to their adult lives.
Be a role model
Challenge gender norms by doing things that push stereotypes. Show that Dad can help with chores, show his emotions and cook dinner. Mum can bring home the family’s income, go to work without makeup on and wear pants out to special events.
Surround them with diversity
Children learn so much from the books they read, the shows they watch and the friends they have around them. Let them read a book about a female engineer and a male nurse!
Let them play!
Without even realising it, we introduce gender norms onto children through the clothes we put them in and the toys we buy for them. If your son wants to play with barbies and your daughter loves trucks, then let them explore! Why reserve the colour pink just for girls when we don’t have to?
And lastly, communicate openly
Children are constantly observing and taking in everything around them, so being transparent with them is incredibly important. If your child asks you a question or is changing who they are to suit societal norms, speak to them about it. Reassure them that it’s perfectly okay to go against what everyone expects of them and to live a life that makes them happy!