Is it OK for boys to play with 'girl toys'?

 

Gender roles are about more than just clothes and toy aisles. Think jobs and career.

Patti Cancellier, education director with Kensington's Parent Encouragement Program, said the topic of gender comes up in her classes frequently.

"Usually it's around the idea of pink and blue jobs at home," she said. "We always recommend that every child, no matter their gender, learn as many of the family jobs as they can in preparation for life."

Cancellier shared other suggestions on how parents can make sure they don't show gender bias:

– Model behavior. "Without meaning to brand an entire gender," you might say something like, "I'm not very good at math; go ask your father," she said. "Because you're a trusted model for your child, it might be possible that your daughters and sons will get some idea that this is true of that gender."

So instead of saying Dad is better at math, try something like, "I'm not sure of my answer. Let's see who else can come up with an answer for you."

– Expose kids to everything, no matter their gender. "We want all of our children to, for example, enjoy building things, because it helps build their mind and imagination," she said. "They should have as many blocks as they need. Of course, they might not want to, but it's there if they want."

Don't avoid getting your daughter regular Lego bricks or building toys because they are in a section of a toy store that seems to be for just boys.

"We want them to explore all opportunities out there and not be stuck in someone's idea of what they should or should not be doing."

– Avoid "girls are" and "boys are" talk. "It labels our children or what they might want to do in a very inaccurate way," she said.

– Have family jobs, not girl or boy jobs. "Everyone goes out to make a living and everyone has to cook," she said. "Everyone might have their favorites, but everyone needs to know how to do them all."

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