Children are always learning and observing from the world around them. This includes everything from the way you react to their mistakes to stereotypes in our society. It is your role as a childcare provider to notice children’s stereotypical attitudes, the stereotypical comments they make, and their actions that stem from these attitudes. By helping children notice the error of stereotypical images, early childhood professionals help children begin to develop a sense of fairness and justice. So, how do you help children get along?
By using an example of gender-based stereotypes from our course, First Steps in Child Care: An Orientation, we will discuss ways that you can help children learn to treat one another fairly and work together.
What is a stereotype?
A stereotype is a widely held idea that is based on partial or oversimplified information.
Have you noticed boys excluding girls from “real boy” play or from activities involving strength? When you see children express stereotypes, talk with children about how these attitudes and comments are based on false information.
- Talk about how both boys and girls can be powerful helpers.
- Read books about female athletes who are strong and fast or about brave, strong female firefighters. Read books about males in helping roles, such as male nurses or teachers. Read books about diversity.
- Provide examples of both male and female musicians, carpenters, and artists.
- Talk about children’s experiences with loving, caring fathers, uncles, and grandfathers as well as with loving, caring mothers, aunts, and grandmothers.
- Introduce activities that involve foods, celebrations, and present-day customs of various groups.
Use expressions of unfair behaviors as opportunities to draw children’s attention to the importance of accepting diversity as a strength and figuring out ways to treat all people fairly and justly. Helping children explore differences in ability, culture, economic class, and racial identity, will provide them with accurate information, you broaden their awareness and understanding of diversity and fairness!
Stressed about getting this right? We are here to help. Check out our Care Courses blog on How do Child Care Providers Deal with Stress. Interested in learning about stress in children’s lives and how to support children with their stress? Take our course Early Childhood Stress: Serious Stress in Children’s Lives Course.
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