Black History Month: Reducing Stereotypes

Playing with Gender Roles

We have been discussing how to help children to resist biases and prejudice.
You also can help build resistance to bias by encouraging your charge to engage in activities that go beyond or go against traditional sex-role stereotyping.
Sex-role stereotyping often begins with the purchase of toys for toddlers. When you buy a push toy to help steady your toddler charge’s walking, do you automatically gravitate toward the shopping cart or vacuum if you care for a girl or the truck or lawn mower if you care for a boy? Why not try choosing the reverse? Boys can enjoy shopping too; and girls can have fun mowing the lawn.
Similarly, both boys and girls can both take care of “babies” (dolls), “cook a meal” (with a toy kitchen), build a train track, and “fix things” (with a toy tool box). Encourage your charge to explore all the opportunities open to her or him. Remember that you’re teaching the future mothers and fathers of the world.

Wouldn’t you want your son as much as your daughter to grow up to be a nurturing parent? Likewise, as he or she grows older, won’t you want your child to be independent enough to cook a meal for himself or fix a broken bicycle herself?

You can nurture interest in these activities by deliberately rejecting gender stereotypes in choosing toys and play for your toddler or preschooler-and in the roles you play in your own home.


Tomorrow on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog: Coping with Prejudice


  1. I was taught this in college that barbie dolls give girls a negative image of how girls should look. We ought to encourage non-gender role play and stereo types. Important to allow girls to play with trucks, trains, and sports. Important for boys to play with toy kitchens, dolls, and strollers. Thanks for reminded nannies to allow kids to play with all toys despite their gender.

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