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Gender Stereotypes Begin In Childhood Essay

2306 words - 9 pages

Young children and early adolescents are some of the most fragile human beings in the world. Whether it be mental, emotional, or physical, their bodies and minds are going through a whirlwind of extreme life-altering changes. These changes, at the time, may sometimes be thrown to the side as just growing up and adjusting to the life as they grow, but what parents do not realize is that this time period of growing will dictate the rest of their lives. Like adults in their careers, children are constantly held to high standards. Usually, these standards are respective to the child’s gender, meaning boys are expected to do one thing, while girls are expected to do the other. Some may believe that this is fine, that this is okay. But it is not; telling a young child how they should or not act, could possibly affect who they are for the rest of their lives: causing them to not be who they truly wanted to be.
Gender, according to the American Psychological Association (2011), is described as the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. By the time a child reaches the age of three, they are well aware of the gender they are. Lawrence Kohlberg (1966) believed Cognitive developmental theory. Through the process of self-characterization, as soon as a child learns he is a boy or she is a girl, information is sorted by behavior by gender, and the child will conduct themselves accordingly (1966). In Kohlberg’s studies, he determined three separate stages of Cognitive Development in regards to gender development. Stage one: Basic gender identity, which states that a child realizes that he or she is either a male or a female, but they have not grasped the concept that this is a constant occurrence, this occurs roughly by three years of age. Step two: Gender stability: the child knows that their gender is stable. A boy knows that he will grow into a man, and a girl will grow into a woman. Step three: Gender consistency: the child realizes that their gender will stay the same regardless of cross-sex activities. A child reaches this concept between the ages six and seven (1966). “A child's burgeoning sense of self, or self-concept, is a result of the multitude of ideas, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that he or she is exposed to” (Witt 1997).
Almost everything we experience as children has some type of lasting effect as we mature into adults, such things include gender roles and gender stereotypes. Gender roles and gender stereotypes have been a staple institution around the world for centuries. “Gender roles are the images projected by a person that identifies their femaleness or maleness” (Dictionary 2014). Depending on your gender, you were taught how to act, how to dress, and even how to speak. Sure, sometimes these attributes are taught to us by our parents or our guardians, they are sometimes taught to us from the peers around us. A child is first introduced to the ins and outs of what either...

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