How Parents Can Defy Gender Stereotypes

4 simple ways to free our children from bias.

How Parents Can Defy Gender Stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are a big topic in the media these days -- from Jaden Smith wearing gender-bending fashion to Target no longer categorizing toy aisles by gender. The moment we see the sex of the baby on the ultrasound, gender stereotypes creep in, and traditional gender roles -- though not always harmful -- can limit our children's developing personalities. It can be challenging to break the boundaries of the pink-and-blue box without bias. So how do you go about raising gender-neutral children and empowering them as individuals?

Here are 4 ways to break gender stereotypes and encourage self-expression at home (and beyond).


1. Focus on benefits.

When buying a toy, consider how it will contribute to your child’s developmental growth. Is it role playing? Building and creating? Motor skills? Linguistic and communication skills? For example, a doll can help both boys and girls learn vocabulary for body parts and can teach them to care for others, which is important in preparing for a younger sibling or even a family pet. Plus, being selective and focusing on benefits, may help you keep your child’s toy collection to the essentials, thus curbing your spending.

2. Dress your child for success.

Your 6 month-old may not need to wear a suit to daycare, but what your child wears can echo stereotypes and shape the way others behave and interact with him or her, ultimately influencing the way your child identifies in society. So it's never too early to be mindful about your child’s wardrobe selection. Choose colors, patterns and characters that aren’t aligned with a gender, and remember that both girls and boys can appreciate a diverse color palette. Once your children start to express their own preferences, make a habit of presenting a range of options. Finally, if you want to foster equality at the playground, let little girls dress in practical clothes so they can comfortably climb alongside the boys.

3. “Equal opportunity” playtime.

Whether you are exploring after-school activities or planning a playdate, ask yourself, “is this something I’d suggest if I had a daughter or a son?” Encourage activities that teach girls to be active and brave, like skateboarding and climbing. Read stories and make a point of discussing emotions to help boys express their feelings. And if they want to do ballet or gymnastics, that’s ok too! Planning mixed-gender playdates is a great way to let children figure out what they gravitate towards naturally.

4. Mind your tone.

The way you discipline your child, or react to a fall, can reinforce gender stereotypes and condition your child’s behavior. For example, if you panic over your daughter's scraped knee but shrug at your son's, you'll likely get different reactions from them, and your son may end up moving on much faster. So try to eliminate gender-driven tonality. This will allow your children to be true to themselves and not behave the way society expects them to.

Remember that there is no black-and-white answer for how to eliminate gender stereotypes in your household. The point isn’t to eliminate gender, but to free your child from bias as much as possible.

How do you bring mindfulness to your child’s life and minimize stereotypes in your household?

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    Sunday Citizen

    I live in the Northeast and when I woke up this morning, my house was freezing. It had been in the mid 40's overnight and we haven't turned the heat on yet. Suddenly, my normal duvet felt too thin. The socks on my bare feet too non-existent. Winter is coming, and I'd been drinking rosés still pretending it was summer.

    I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to do my annual tradition of winterizing my home—and I don't mean making sure my pipes and walls have enough insulation (though obviously that's important too). I mean the act of evaluating every room and wondering if it has enough hygge to it.

    If you've never heard of hygge, it's a Danish word that means a quality of coziness or contentment. And what better time to make sure you have moments of hygge all throughout your house than right now? As far as I'm concerned it's the only way to get through these dark winter months (even more so during a pandemic.)

    So I went room by room (yes, even my 4-year-old's room) and swapped in, layered or added in these 13 products to get us ready for winter:

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.


    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

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