Parental Influences on Gender
In Early Childhood
How Parents Influence Gender Identity
For the first few years of life, parents play a crucial role in their child's development. Their role varies from primary caregivers to reinforcers to role models, amongst others. Most early behaviors are learned and reinforced in the home.
Parents encourage gender roles by:
1. Dressing children in gender-specific clothes and colors
2. Providing gender-differentiated toys
3. Having different expectations of sons and daughters
4. Encouraging participation in sex-typed activities and chores
5. Reinforcing/Rewarding gender-stereotyped behavior
6. Acting as a model for gender-specific behaviors
Impact of Negative Parental Attitudes
Healthy Gender Development: Androgyny
Androgyny can be defined as exhibiting a mixture of both positive feminine and masculine characteristics. Children in this category tend to have higher self-esteem and tend to be more adaptable. (Berk, 2010)
Ways Parent Can Encourage Healthy Development:
1. Limiting or sharing traditional gender roles
2. Avoid stereotypical language
3.Limit exposure to media portrayals of gender
4. Encouraging children outside of their comfort zones
5. Authoritative parenting
Berk, L. (2010). Emotional and Social Development in early Childhood. Development Through the Lifespan (5th ed., pp. 273-280). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Witt, S. D. (1997). Parental influence on children's socialization to gender roles. Adolescence, 32(126), 253-259.