Gender inclusive learning: how to model equal & respectful relationships in children

Written by Nivedita Garg
Published: October 16, 2022
Founder of Joyful Parenting, NLP practisioner, YALE, Harvard & UC San Diego certified personal coach with over 10 Years of experience in helping individuals beat stress and lead joyful lives

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A boy and a girl, of course, come with innate differences such as physiological and psychological characteristics, which we all are aware of. However, how different are two women and two men from each other? Or two mothers and two fathers from each other?

According to my experience, most human thoughts are shaped and created by the environment they live in and the words they hear around them every day. In simple terms, you are conditioned to think of a boy as a “boy” and a girl as a “girl”. 

Let’s test it. 

When you hear the terms a successful “engineer”, “surgeon”, “doctor” or an “astronaut”, the thought that comes to your mind is of a man, and when you hear “beautician”, “dancer”, “teacher” or a “caregiver”, you think of a woman. 

Also, while you are standing in the bus, you as a woman expect to be given a seat, if you’re seen standing. However, will you ever consider opening a door for a man, or is that just a man’s job to be “chivalrous”?

Or let’s consider the other side of the coin, you as a man would expect your wife to serve you hot dinner after a long day’s work. However, will you ever consider moving cities or countries if your wife gets an excellent work opportunity? 

Well, it’s easy to say that there should be gender equality in society, but what exactly are you doing about this? How are you shaping your children? How are boys and girls being conditioned?  

What we are doing?

Consider how often you hear or say “blue is for boys” and “pink is for girls”. This scenario imbibes the differences in a very subtle way, shaping their choices on the basis of their gender. Boys are expected not to cry like girls which restrict them from emotionally venting out their feelings. However, the truth is that children cry by nature irrespective of their gender when they’re born. A girl is expected to be careful which implies girls are weak and need protection. 

Are you someone who addresses a boy child as “champ”, “buddy”, “big guy” and girls as “sweety”, “sweetheart”, or “angel” which automatically implies that boys are tough and don’t need love whereas girls are soft and need a lot of emotional comforting? 

These are just a few things that you as parents might b saying to your child. Well, if you can relate then this is where the gender bias starts – AT HOME, and at a very young age. 

As parents, it’s your job to promote gender equality at home. 

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How to change this pattern?

Read story books to children which are not gender biased. 

For instance, in all fairy tales, the princesses need to be rescued by the prince, or the girls are damsels in distress, while the boys are heroes. This leaves a strong imprint on children’s minds at a very young age that it is a girl who is weak and needs protection, while a boy who is strong can achieve anything. 

Instead, read books about space, animals, the world, or any other story books which have a progressive plot and are neutral. 

Throw gender-neutral birthday parties

We often restrict our thinking to the classic butterflies, unicorns or Alice in wonderland theme for a daughter’s birthday party and pirates or superheroes theme for a son’s birthday party. These subtle experiences in a child’s life create an environment where they start adapting and creating differences in thoughts. 

As parents, you need to have an open, progressive thought process. 

Do activities that not are gender stereotyped

It’s time to break the parental basis and equip your children, irrespective of boy and girl, to be successful and live a happy life by teaching them skills like cooking, reading, serving guests, changing tires, handling money, gardening, cleaning, and washing clothes.

How it will help your children?

Including the above steps in your daily routine can help kids learn to respect humans and have a high emotional quotient, thereby understanding these situations with more wisdom. 

Making life simple for you as a parent.

If you find this difficult, reach out to counsellors and seek help. The more you stop children from crying and sharing, the more they will tend to bottle up their feelings and will become distant from their loved ones. Share your feelings and experiences with your children too, so they know that it’s completely normal to feel emotions.

It’s ok to hug boys when they cry, it’s ok to tell girls to toughen up, it’s ok for boys to own pink toys and it’s ok for girls to be sporty. When you as parents become gender neutral, you create an exhilarating environment in your child’s life, which enhances them to bloom and truly shine as individuals. 


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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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