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Your 7-year-old now
Girls tend to hang out with other girls in small groups, giggling and whispering. Boys tend to gravitate to other boys and engage in more physical play. Kids may repeat stereotyped generalities: “Girls are sissies” and “Boys are stupid.” Some children are embarrassed if they don't conform to the gender standards set by peers.
Your child is not really as rigid as she seems, however. Going with the flow helps her fit in and define her gender. Nevertheless, you may want to encourage a broader perspective to make sure she doesn't become limited by these attitudes.
- Make sure your child sees men and women in many roles — female basketball players, stay-at-home dads, female doctors, male chefs.
- Don't play into stereotypes, especially negative ones, by saying things like “Big boys don't cry.”
- Whatever your child's gender, have a variety of toys and props available that support all kinds of play: active (balls), creative (art supplies), and sensitive (dolls and dress-up clothes).
- Use the media to stimulate discussions about stereotypes and to teach respect.
- Invite kids of the opposite gender over to play.
- Be a good role model. Do you wrestle more with your son and draw quietly with your daughter? Mix it up.
Your life now
Some families set aside one night a week as Family Night. The idea is to avoid scheduling outside activities at this special time. It can be as simple as ordering pizza and watching a movie every Friday. Some families have the children write down possibilities (within reason) and draw one out of a hat each week.
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