Gender Socialization In Childhood

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Across all cultural groups, there is perhaps no other variable that has such a sustained, critical influence throughout the lifespan as does gender. From the moment of birth, when the first question asked is whether the child is a girl or boy, gender is one of the most salient features that distinguish human beings. This gender label affects almost every aspect of human social life from birth throughout childhood and the adult years. Children learn at a very early age what it means to be a boy or a girl in our society (Best 2010). Through myriad activities, opportunities, encouragements, discouragements, overt behaviors, covert suggestions, and various forms of guidance, children experience the process of gender role socialization. It is difficult for a child to grow to adulthood without experiencing some form of gender bias or stereotyping (Witt 1997). Gender is …show more content…
(Shearer 2007). The first gender-related learning that occurs for children is within the immediate family. Parents’ behaviors communicate the importance of gender via their reactions to their children’s behavior, by the behaviors they model, and by family activities (Best 2010). Children’s gender role concepts are closely tied to their developing cognitive abilities, but socialization influences help to explain individual differences in children’s knowledge of and flexibility vis-à-vis gender role stereotypes, gender role attitudes, and sex-typed interests and preferences. By modeling more or less traditional roles and attitudes and encouraging or discouraging sex-typed activities in their children, parents influence their children’s sex role socialization (McHale, Crouter, and Tucker

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