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to be exasperated by 4-year-olds' fulsome embrace of gender stereotypes

(91 Posts)
leedy Mon 15-Dec-14 13:36:55

Rationally, I know that wanting to put things into categories ("for boys", "for girls") is ENTIRELY DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE. Irrationally, though...

Family: watches Avatar, The Last Airbender (which is excellent)
DS1 (nearly 5): This is great. I'm glad it's not girly.
Me: I am a girl. I am enjoying this. Also it has a girl in it, being really brave and stuff. I would have really liked this when I was a little girl.
DS: But it's not for girls. Because it doesn't have princesses in it.
Me: head explodes

Anyone else? Just me? awaits being told that liking princesses is genetic and I cannot FIGHT NATURE

PaleoTillChristmas Mon 15-Dec-14 13:41:58

YANBU, I feel your pain. I only have ds's and I expect if I had daughters my head would explode on a very regular basis!

DoraGora Mon 15-Dec-14 13:43:53

Xena is a warrior princess and I gather she's quite popular with boys.

FreudiansSlipper Mon 15-Dec-14 13:46:57

ds used to come out with rubbish like this

now he is 7 he tells me mummy there are no such thing as boys toys or girls toys and pink is for boys too

you just have to keep going on and on at them it sinks in at some point grin

I never gave him a toy gun but as soon as he got into his shooting stage he made one from lego, twigs, pens .....

he has lots of girl friends and most of them like/play football and like starwars but he and neither are his friends interested in toys that are marketed more towards girls

HamAlive Mon 15-Dec-14 13:47:16

DS1 is 3y9m and is constantly banging on about stuff being for girls and boys. Marketing is very powerful though, he asked if I wanted girls lego for Christmas as the boys lego he has is only for him, daddy and DS2. Drives me mad.

misskangaandroo2014 Mon 15-Dec-14 13:48:53

My DD's would tell him to shut the hell up as they were watching the film (if that helps at all), but that's because they unfortunately get very cross with 'boys who cannot keep their opinions to themselves'. I try very hard to point out they are just as bloody cheeky. Nothing. Thank goodness a few of them grow up to realise it's a stupid way of looking at the world.
But fwiw my DD's like most things, this includes princesses and avatar. They seem to pretty much include all things in play. Apart from boys. hmm

avocadotoast Mon 15-Dec-14 13:50:14

It is difficult, my little cousin is 4 and she's exactly the same. She's mad for princesses and will be adamant that certain things are for girls and others for boys... But yet, yet, she recently said she loves Spiderman and at the weekend was happily playing with some dinosaurs and pretending to crush a city. So there is hope! I think their brains are just developing so rapidly at that stage that they cling to things with such firmness without being able to grasp contradictions. Hopefully it will pass smile

raltheraffe Mon 15-Dec-14 13:52:10

My MIL came round last week and saw ds's (age 3) Princess Elsa and Anna toys from Frozen and said "what are you doing with them, they are girls toys?"
Since then ds has ignored the dolls which I had only bought a few days before.

Whatsthewhatsthebody Mon 15-Dec-14 13:55:56

Boys are no worse/better than girls at this crap. All of mine said stuff like this 2boys/2girls.

They grow out of it. grin

OfaFrenchMind Mon 15-Dec-14 13:57:53

He is discovering that the other little people with longer hair (most of the time) do not have a penis like him. It's mind boggling, and weird. Therefore, he is coping by identifying clearly what is girly and what is not, using his little counterparts as templates.
It will last 4 to 6 months, then he will have 4 to 5 years forgetting about it entirely (unless cooties)
Do not worry.

EverythingslookingRosie Mon 15-Dec-14 13:59:20

My 2.5 year old DD insists that blue is for boys and pink for girls and that daddy can't sing 'Let it go' as he's a boy!!! She has also recently found 'barbie' on itunes which i hate with a passion sad

Treats Mon 15-Dec-14 14:03:49

What I hate is that DD thinks that anything that isn't pink must be for boys. So if I'm trying to get her interested in Lego, then she thinks she can only have those awful Lego Friends sets and that ALL of the gender neutral stuff is for boys.

She actually plays with a wide variety of stuff - Disney Princesses alongside loads of different things - but if asked what she'd like for Christmas, she veers towards the pink section.

She's getting better now she's older - she's just finishing her first term in Reception and I think this has helped - but it's still very frustrating.

OstentatiousBreastfeeder Mon 15-Dec-14 14:04:09

My DS (4) is also coming out with this stuff since he started school.

"I can't have the pink one because pink is only for girls"
"I will only watch one episode of My Little Pony (he's a big fan) because it's not for boys it's for girls isn't it mummy"

And all other sorts of hogwash. Obviously I correct him but I've found making a big deal of it tends to exacerbate things, so I'm learning to be more offhand about it rather than getting right on my soapbox.

BertieBotts Mon 15-Dec-14 14:09:50

I read something about this age being the prime age in which we find our "tribe". Basically he's looking for the different categories of people and trying to work out which one he fits in. The girl/boy thing is constantly reinforced, especially in language we use to young children (good boy/girl, aren't you a big/helpful/kind/clever boy/girl, etc etc even to the point that they say "Good morning boys and girls" to children in primary schools rather than "Good morning class 1" or "Good morning children" or "Good morning everybody", drives me potty now I've noticed it!) so they pick up that it must be something quite important and hence overgeneralise rules to work out what the rule is for being a boy vs being a girl.

I don't really know what you can do to counter it except that since I noticed I have totally stopped the good boy/girl/etc thing, instead being descriptive (you can say well done/thank you/that's helpful/kind/etc) and try to emphasise DS' position in a different tribe (our family) instead. So instead of saying "Be a man, men are strong" we say "Bottses are strong!"

Others are right, though, they do grow out of it, although I think it does have a bit of a legacy - things don't become gender neutral, it's just that they realise that it doesn't really matter if they cross the boundary, unless they go too far (then it's wrong again sad )

PlumpingUpPartridge Mon 15-Dec-14 14:13:17

DS1 (3.6yo) came out with: "Daddy and DS2 and I can be KNIGHTS and you can be a PRINCESS Mummy" the other day. I told him that I wanted to be a knight as well and that he could be a prince if he liked. He grudgingly permitted me to be a knight after several repetitions grin

Also, only girls do ballet hmm

JavelinArse Mon 15-Dec-14 14:16:22

My youngest son (6) used to come out with that sort of thing but every time he did I would just chat to him about there being no such thing as 'boys' colours/programmes/toys and 'girls' colours/programmes/toys... He gradually realised that it is okay for him to like Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and Care Bears and is now proud of his love for these 'girly' things (sadly I know it won't last long, peer pressure will eventually change his mind back again I am sure).

mewkins Mon 15-Dec-14 14:20:12

Yes I find it painful too though dd is pretty liberal with her thinking. She takes things like dinosaurs and science experiments into show and tell and is told (by boys) that they are for boys and she shouldn't like them and met with confusion by some girls (normally the older ones in the class who have established very clear ideas about boys things and girls things). It is sad because at preschool all the girls and boys played very happily with each other. It's a shame it has to change.
Dd will also play with her friend (a boy) when he is on his own but when he's playing with other boys tends to shy away.

leedy Mon 15-Dec-14 14:24:10

Glad to know I am not alone! I am also trying not to make a big deal of it, while hoping that my dripfeed of offhand "no, that's not just for boys" remarks will sink in eventually.

He does still play with girls, though will occasionally express astonishment that eg his female friend E likes Batman "even though that is for boys"...

Minus2seventy3 Mon 15-Dec-14 14:25:01

raltherafeeNowt wrong with Anna and Elsa (other than I'm a grown man and should know better)...
leedy - YANBU - On a serious note, my DD (just turned eight) has always been pretty gender-neutral with toys and stuff, since she was a toddler - she loves her Disney Princess things, just as much as smacking me about with her foam bokken and shooting me with her Nerf gun. The boys at karate don't treat her any differently, and there are plenty of older girls and women in the adult ranks she looks up to.
She can be watching Disney one minute, Ninja Turtles the next, followed by Marvel's Avengers and Angelina Jolie's Maleficent.
Kids are the product of their environment - introduce them to toys from "the other side" and they'll embrace it all. Obviously, this is IMHO, based on a sample of one.

RonaldMcDonald Mon 15-Dec-14 14:25:21

it will end as he gets older, hold tight

i was aghast at the booleaux my girls said, wanted to do, whilst dressed as pink explosions
a few years on and they think it was just hilarious

Viviennemary Mon 15-Dec-14 14:26:51

I think people should stop making such a big deal of it. My Mum hated pink thought it was frilly and girlish hence I got nothing pink though I liked the colour. Why do we have to enforce our own ideas on children.

RonaldMcDonald Mon 15-Dec-14 14:28:16

my sweetest princess chose an alligator head as a gift on holiday so that she could have it to bring into show n tell

kids are weird and if you are trying to do the right things they will be too

MistressDeeCee Mon 15-Dec-14 14:30:25

Why does it matter? They're children, still very young. Let them be

leedy Mon 15-Dec-14 14:31:40

I'm definitely not trying to "enforce my own ideas" on him, I'm not confiscating all his "boy" toys or having him strapped Clockwork-Orange style watching Disney Princesses smile . It's more I don't want him to permanently stop liking/enjoying things that he actually likes/enjoys (or playing with children that he actually likes) because he thinks only a subset of things are "for him" and a different rigid subset of things are "for girls" (and, moreover, that things that are "for girls" are "yucky" and it would be shameful to like them). It's giving him more options, not fewer.

leedy Mon 15-Dec-14 14:35:05

I think personally some of my discomfiture is also because I am Very Old and hence grew up in the heyday of relatively "unisex" children's clothes/toys - I had three sisters, and yes, we had dolls, but a lot of our toys/books were just toys/books, not marketed at any particular gender, and most of my clothes were brown/red/orange.

(on the downside, I also got the all-purpose unisex seventies child haircut which looked like someone had put a bowl on my head and cut round it...)

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