You asked

Can my child distinguish between male and female?

At the age of four, children are learning to distinguish between male and female. Your daughter for instance knows that Dad is a boy and she is a girl but she is still trying to work out what the difference is between Mums and Dads, and hasn’t quite got it yet though, that all Dads are boys and all Mums are girls. This is still confusing to her.

Even though she can tell by the way people dress whether they are a boy or a girl, she will still become confused if she sees a man wearing a kilt or a ponytail. It is at this age too, that they will adopt stereotypical attitudes and let girls know that they shouldn’t play football, or that boys don’t play with dolls.

You can help your child to overcome this stereotypical attitude by pointing out certain things to her. If she says that girls can’t play hockey, for instance, then show her pictures of the women’s Olympic hockey team.

Without realising it, you can reinforce your child’s attitude with certain comments. For instance when you compliment your daughter, is it on her appearance or her actions? If your son cries, do you tell him that boys shouldn’t cry?

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