Awareness of Self and Others

"Chapter 18" By: Abby Timm-Haworth

Gender Awareness:

Family and friends help children learn whether they are girls or boys. By age 3 children know their gender. They use clothing and hairstyles that help designate their gender. They also like to imitate parents and caregivers. When children are between four and six years old, they finally understand that girls grow up to be women who may become mothers and that boys grow into men who may become fathers. Sometimes they my confused about husbands and wives.

Gender Roles:

Young children learn their male or female roles from family members, friends, neighbors, and teachers. Children in single-parent families should be given the opportunity to interact regularly with relatives or friends of the opposite gender than the parent. Parents and caregivers should encourage children to develop their interests and abilities without regard to gender. Both boys and girls should develop physical skills of strength, agility, speed, and stamina. Both and should learn to express emotions and to give and receive love. Both should learn to compete with others.

Racial and Ethnic Awareness:

Children become aware of racial groups and ethnic backgrounds as they compare likenesses and differences. People from many nations and racial groups exist together in neighborhoods, schools, churches, and shopping malls. Children at a age cannot hold two characteristics for one person or object in their mind at once. As people of different backgrounds live together in neighborhoods and communities, social skills are increasingly necessary to maintain good relations, peace, and order.


A stereotype is a standardized mental picture of a person or group held by many people. Most stereotypes are unfair. They classify people according to only their skin color or age or gender or even the way they speak or where they live. Stereotypes cause some people to think that those with a certain characteristics. Parents and caregivers should avoid making statements that reflect stereotypes.


The word prejudice comes from the word prejudge, meaning to make a decision about someone or something before having all the facts. Prejudice is an opinion or feeling formed without knowledge. All people have prejudices of some sort. Prejudice can hurt the self-esteem of both children and adults. This especially true if they are judged on the basis of something they could not change even if they wanted to, such as gender or skin color. People prefer to be judged on skills, performance, knowledge, or behavior characteristics over which they hold control.