One magic word helps your toddler have an expanded understanding of gender expression.
By the time kids make it to kindergarten they can tell you how life works, in regards to gender expression. You know: boys wear blue, girls wear pink, girls can wear dresses, boys can’t, girls wear earings, boys don’t, boys play with cars, girls play with dolls.
But reality is that both gender and gender expression are much more fluid than that. There is a magic word that, as parents, we can use when talking to young kids to help them have a more expanded understanding. That magic word is “some.”
Check it out…
Some boys like blue, some girls do. Some people aren’t boys or girls and like to be called ‘they.’ Some of them like blue. Some boys have penises, some don’t. Some girls do. Some people like to wear dresses, some don’t. Anyone can.
I’m not saying repeat this verbatim to your kid. I’m just saying that when talking to your kid, in order to avoid instilling a gender binary or strict gender boxes, trying including the word ‘some.’
Try it out if your kid is present for any of your body routines—– some people like to wear makeup, some people shave their chin, some people wear nail polish, some people like to cut their hair real short, some people like to grow their hair long.
The emphasis is that everybody has different likes and different ways of expressing themselves. Tell your kid that as they grow they will discover their own likes, their own way of expressing themselves.
This is a much different approach than what I generally see — the “this is the normal way for people to be but some people are different so we have to be nice” approach. Even with the best of intentions, this approach does more harm than good, in my opinion.
Instead, lets start when they are toddlers with an expansive approach, one that normalizes and demonstrates the value for variety. Let’s bring diversity to the center. People aren’t anomalies.
What are some of the ways you’ve spoken to your child about gender expression?