Men and women are assigned characteristics and roles based on their gender. The fixed idea of gender roles and characteristics is the gender stereotype, which can be beneficial or harmful to both genders in the society, depending on how the stereotype affects the capacity of developing one’s capabilities, the ability to make choices concerning an individual’s life, as well as the authorization to pursue one’s professional career. Gender stereotypes are entrenched in the society such that children can internalize and identify themselves with specific gender attributes and roles during their early developmental stages. This stereotypical influence in children are evident in their choice of friends, color and type of clothing, selection of television shows, as well as the physical games played (Our Watch, 2018). Boys tend to select male children as their friends, select dull color of clothing, watch action and less romantic television shows, and play with trucks or football, contrary to girl child, who plays with dolls in the company of female friends.
Caregivers are the main source of information and influence about gender stereotypes to children. Children tend to learn and imitate their caregivers during their developmental stages of life. It is during this stage that children internalize their gender and specific roles assigned to them stereotypically. According to Own Watch, most children identify their gender and roles at the age of two. Most of the caregivers associate with children with regard to their gender, therefore the children learn and adopt accordingly. For instance, most caregivers buy dolls for their girls while trucks for boys. Therefore, children learn to associate girls with dolls, as boys are identified with trucks. In addition, in a family setup, a father visits the ranch with the son while the girl stays at home to assist her mother in undertaking domestic chores like cooking, washing utensils, as well as watching over her infant sibling. A continuous prose of this events, teaches children their specific stereotypical roles according to their gender. Equally, caregivers portray that it is not okay for boys to cry or should only cry in rare occasions, in private places (Our Watch, 2018). This emotional influence is achieved through constant rebuke by caregivers, when a boy child cries. With these stereotypical influences, children learn to distinguish between male and female roles, values, interests, and skills.
Gender-typing by children is the process by which children associate themselves with gender roles and stereotypes. This process influences the child’s self-identity as well as self-esteem. Characteristically, boys and girls start choosing preferable toys and activities that are socially aligned with their gender. Consequently, children identify themselves with specific groups that can potentially motivate them to emulate those in the same group, acquire and memorize information that seems to be relevant to their own gender, and a heightened liking in activities related to their gender. Similarly, they adopt attachment for friends of the same sex. Regarding the social interaction with peers, a child develops high self-esteem since they can freely express their views and emotions. Equally, they learn how to develop healthy and advantageous relationships with others around them. Children with low self-esteem are subjected to depression, hostility, depression, and are prone to antisocial behavior due to unstable emotions (Brackett and Rivers, 2014). The antisocial behaviors include bullying, stealing, lying in addition to substance abuse. Therefore, gender-typing by children can influence a child’s self-identity and self-esteem.
Bracket, A. M. & Rivers, E. S. (18 Feb. 2014). Preventing Bullying With Emotional Intelligence. Education Week. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/02/19/21brackett_ep.h33.html
Our Watch (March, 2018). Challenging gender stereotypes in the early years: the power of parents. Melbourne, Australia: Our Watch. Retrieved from https://www.ourwatch.org.au/getmedia/e42fe5ce-8902-4efc-8cd9-799fd2f316d7/OUR0042-Parenting-and-Early-Years-AA.pdf.aspx?ext=.pdf