The role of an individual in society has been influenced by stereotypes developed to create “appropriate” behavior for both genders. Children understand gender roles definition as early as age four. Although many hear the world stereotyped behavior, it's not always clear what that implies. The false belief many individuals have about a group of people because of their gender is referred to as stereotypes.
Stereotypes often define gender roles in society. Hence, people are often classified according to their gender. However, expectations based on stereotype behavior are harmful to the development of children.
Therefore, egalitarian vs feminism supporters have urged society to step away from stereotypes that include gender typing. This has led to misrepresented beliefs in society. We hope to provide more enlightenment on how stereotyped behavior hinders gender equality. The first thing that gender stereotypes curbs are the transformation of a girl into a strong independent woman. This affects the process of making these girls become valuable contributions to society.
Gender roles are enabled by the media, family, environment, and society. The way a child comprehends gender roles will play a vital role in how they interact with their peers. Most parents want to raise strong boys and brave girls, and the only way to do that is to help your children overcome gender roles.
Although we are talking about gender roles and stereotype behavior, our focus in this article is why we should encourage athletic girls. As parents, our aim should be to encourage our children to follow their dreams to become valuable in society. This article will discuss ways to encourage athletic girls to follow their dreams and become independent girls.
Why parents should encourage athletic girls
Great for a Child’s Development
Sporting activities are great for a child’s development. Hence, parents need to encourage their children to develop to the best of their ability. As parents, we should go the extra mile to ensure our children grow in the best way possible.
Athletics are a way to spend an extra hour in school; it has a vital role in the child's mental and social development. Through sports, children can interact with their schoolmates and build relationships. As a parent, if your girl child is good at athletics, there are many ways you can encourage her to grow up to become strong and pretty.
Sports Teach Teamwork
Participating in sports such as athletics teaches children the importance of teamwork. If we are to have strong girls leadership in important sectors, girls need to learn the value of teamwork early in their lives. There is no better way to teach teamwork than by participating in sports.
For example, sports such as athletics have relay events. At least four athletes are needed to run a relay race. All the athletes need to work together before they can win this race. Hence, teamwork is key to success.
Sports Teach Discipline and a Sense of Commitment
Those who are part of a sports team learn the value of discipline and build a sense of commitment. Discipline is taught in the form of training and maintaining a certain amount of weight. Commitment to regular practice and training will help the child in the future to focus better on their goals. Hence, sports are essential ways to learn that practice is the only way to perform better.
Gives Children a Sense of Belonging
For children in middle school, forming cliques is very easy. Imagine that your child transferred to a new school where they don’t know anybody during middle school and high school? From experience, it isn't easy to make new friends and settle down.
Participating in sports will fasten the process of making friends and settling down. Hence, sports participation gives your child a sense of belonging—especially for those who are not great at socializing.
Sports activities help a child's healthy development. Research has shown that middle and high school students who don’t engage in sporting activities are often in poorer health than those who participate in sports. These statistics affect girls more than boys.
Having discussed why you should encourage athletic girls to continue doing what they love, let us look at some problems related to the development of athletic girls. We have listed a few reasons below.
Cultural influence plays a major role in the lives of many people. Gender roles created by cultures are difficult to overcome, because many people rely on their culture as a form of guidance. Most cultures encourage stereotype behavior by allocating certain jobs to each gender.
People from such cultures believe that females shouldn’t engage in activities that take them outside the house. Therefore, athletic girls from such cultures won’t be allowed to pursue their dreams. Hence, culture is a big hindrance to raising girls for gender equality.
There is a need to change the way the culture seems to misrepresent the ideologies of society. Girls should be allowed to become whatever they want to be in the future.
Religion is a sensitive subject to many people in society. Some religions don't allow females to engage in sports because they see it as a male activity. People from these religions won't allow their athletic girls to follow their passion.
Stereotype behavior is a major enabler of gender roles. Stereotypes will stop at nothing to facilitate their beliefs that individuals' roles in society should be limited to genders. Stereotype behavior starts early in life and is difficult to overcome.
There are different ways in which stereotyped behavior shows up in society. We shall look at some examples.
Pattern of Play
Early in life, gender roles become evident in the pattern of play. The differences in the way preschool boys and girls play at their developmental stage are crucial. One essential sign of gender role in play pattern shows up in gender – arranged playgroups and toy preferences.
Boys tend to act rougher during play, while girls tend to shy away from aggressive acts, forming separate playmates. Furthermore, boys tend to move towards toys like trucks, while girls prefer dolls. However, these choices don't apply to all children.
Aside from a play pattern as an indication of sexual orientation, the appearance of a gay or heterosexual relationship in families Influence play pattern in children. Most times, children are raised differently based on their sex. Hence, these gender roles are different from their parents'.
Choice of Clothes
The first appearance of gender roles often comes from the parents of the child. Children are often given clothes and toys which “suit” a particular gender. Parents also encourage their children to engage in stereotyped games, such as girls playing with dolls, rather than engaging in sports and athletics.
Ways to Encourage Athletic Girls
As modern parents, we try to raise children free from gender roles and stereotyped behavior in society. Our children are raised free from gender roles so that our children, especially girls, will be strong and pretty. This is because “strong is the new pretty” in our society. However, we can’t raise brave girls if we can’t do something to help our children overcome gender stereotypes.
Hence, we can take the following steps to help our children, especially athletic girls, overcome gender roles.
Many parents often make a statement which tends to generalize gender roles. A statement such as “boys are great scientists” and “girls leadership is not possible" favors gender roles. Rather parents should make a statement that supports the dreams of children.
Growing children often pick up subtle statements such as the above, and such statements may affect the child's psychology. The way we speak to young children is significant to their development. Therefore parents, especially mothers, should speak positively or neutral when talking to their children.
The generalization problem often makes children think that belonging to a particular group makes a person better than others. These misrepresented beliefs have led children to think that all members of a particular group are alike. If we must overcome the problem of gender roles, we must avoid generalization as parents. A very good organization that strengthens opportunities for young girls is the 'Girls for gender equity' organization.
Often children who hear generalized statements view the world through the lens of social stereotypes.
Make the Best of Your Interactions
As parents, we must know our limits when it comes to controlling what our children hear. However, we must try as much as possible to make the best of our interactions with them. A small change in language matters a lot.
The truth is that children build their perception of the world through their conversation with significant adults in their lives. These adults are parents, especially mothers and caregivers. These people have to choose their language carefully around children.
They should say things that will encourage these children to think of themselves as individuals and see others as individuals as well. Such thoughts will inspire them to choose their paths freely. Hence, it will free them from have or endorsing stereotyped behavior in the future.
Lead by Example
Show your girl that you are happy with her athletic participation by exercising and encouraging her to join you. Especially for moms, when you exercise with your daughter, you show them that it is good and fun to engage in such activities. You can swap family activities such as going to the cinema and swimming for more athletic activities like jogging and biking.
Make Your Activities Social
Search for sporting clubs, classes with similar members of your girl's age groups, and take your girl to these classes. Also, encourage your child to participate in the new club with her friends. Participating with friends will make the experience more social.
According to research, girls like to make friends during sports. Hence, athletics won’t be any different. Furthermore, participating with friends will make your girl enjoy the sport more.
Get Involved in Her Sport Activities
As a parent who wants her daughter to continue to participate in athletics, you can go to the school with ideas on improving the school's sports activities. Especially, where your daughter is a participant. However, ensure that you don't overdo it to avoid putting your daughter under too much pressure during games.
Remember the Power of Role Models
There are role models in any sector of human endeavors. Role models serve as motivation to younger persons who want to “walk in their shoes”. There are lots of female athletes performing at the highest level of athletics.
To encourage your athletic girl, you should expose her to these female athletes. Please encourage them to follow their lifestyles. By following these role models' steps, your child will learn that practicing and spending time to learn their craft will help them fulfill their dreams and become role models to the younger generation.
- Cultural Issues