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Go Back   The Mommy Playbook > Parenting & Family Forums > The Preschooler Playground (ages 3-5)

Gender Identity in the Preschool Years - The Preschooler Playground (ages 3-5)

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Old October 9th, 2009, 08:32 PM   #1
WolfySara

 
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Gender Identity in the Preschool Years

Quote:
Gender Identity in Children
Posted in Your Preschooler on April 1st, 2007

…And That’s What Little Girls/Boys are Made Of

This is the age when children learn about the differences between boys and girls and become very aware of their own sex. As most experts have come to realize, there are true differences between boys and girls and these have nothing to do with cultural conditioning. In general boys are more physically aggressive, girls more verbal. Boys are drawn to anything with wheels, and most girls are not. Girls are drawn to dolls, most boys are not. There are many other differences that have to do with the way boys and girls learn and communicate.

However scientific they may be, these are generalizations. Some girls prefer typical “boy” activities, and some boys like to play with dolls. The tomboy seems to be more accepted by parents than a boy who likes to play with dolls or has other more “feminine” ways. Fathers, especially, may get very upset if they see their son playing in the kitchen or with a doll. If a child shows that they are happy and comfortable in their gender role, there is probably nothing wrong. Boys need to learn to nurture as well as girls. In addition, girls can benefit from play that is more aggressive.

If a child seems uncomfortable in their gender role or frequently makes statements like: “I wish I were a boy,” or “I’m not a girl, I’m a boy,” it may signal that your child is not happy with his / her gender identity. Children sometimes feel, correctly, or incorrectly, that their parents value one sex more than the other, or that their parents are unhappy because they wanted the opposite sex child. These matters can be very complex psychologically and usually need referral to a professional. If you suspect your child is having a conflict about his or her gender identity, please discuss it with your pediatrician or family practitioner.
http://www.simplyparenting.com/articles/24


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Old October 10th, 2009, 10:20 AM   #2
Ali
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I think that one of our friends is struggling with this with her son. Juliana is well aware of boys and girls and even what body parts makes them different. But she seems to obviously love her princess, girly side. However, her teachers say she easily plays with the boys as well. She likes to make them play save the princess at school. She climbs into the tower and gets the boys to somehow fight to save her. I found this comical. She is 1 of 4 girls in a class of 18.


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Old October 10th, 2009, 11:55 PM   #3
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Talia seems pretty girly and is especially focused on pretend. But her pretend play isn't limited to feminine stories. Yes, she plays princess stuff but also does her share of pirates and bus drivers and break-dancers and dragon-hunters. She refuses to be Ariel or Cinderella anymore, and instead demands to be one of the 'bad stepsisters' or the Fairy Godmother or Ursula. I never knew too many girls who wanted to be 'bad guys' or 'secondary characters', but perhaps there's a niche that need be filled.

We spent a good 10 minutes on our walk today helping her and her 'pirate crew' tie on what she called a 'storm sail' to a signpost, which they needed on their ship for an incoming storm, or so she said. She ordered her crew around, asked me to tie it up high, and then left parting reminders to her crew to 'switch it to the other one' when the storm had passed. Bossy Captain!

I'm guessing that 'pretending' in the style she pretends, with lots of talking and characters compromising and cooperating to solve problems, is very much 'girl'. When Jackson pretends, it's mostly him being very physical and making noises and rarely is there a beginning-middle-end storyline. If he had been with us on the walk, I bet he would have simply head-butted the signpost and then run off into the street to get a time-out and a lecture.

And oh yes to the obsession with wheels. Talia will ride around the house in our push-activity car, pretending it's a bus or a motorcycle or a flying unicorn, but Jackson is the one that turns it over and pretends to tighten the nuts and bolts (i.e. Unicorn Balls ).

I think it's quite telling that parents value and cherish tomboys but are embarrassed or even angry at sons who show preference to 'girly' things. I think that we still have an underlying societal 'vibe' that male = better, and I think there is a lot of subtle and none-too-subtle homophobia out there, and boys seem to get the brunt of it. Jackson seems very average/textbook boy and I haven't seen him straying off the 'boy' path, but I'm incredibly proud that if he ever did, his father would be accepting and proud no matter what. Brian is not made uncomfortable by Jackson playing or wearing or doing girly things. We have loads of photographs of Jackson and Brian in full princess realia to prove it.


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