Gender differences are not hard wired at birth

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Neuroscientist Lise Eliot dispels the notion that parents should just accept the fact that boys and girls are wired differently and there's nothing they can do about it.

Men And Women Double Equal Sign Gender Equality Gender differences are not hard wired at birth

Difference between boys and girls

Pink is just for girls and blue is only for boys. Does this sound familiar? This is just one of the conventional beliefs we spew that affect the way we parent.

Neuroscientist Lise Eliot writes in her book, Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps and What We Can do About It, on the importance of parents dispelling the notion that boys and girls are wired differently and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Eliot shares that through her studies she has found that the difference between boys and girls are relatively small. For example, while we often generalise that boys are visual learners and girls are auditory learners, this is in fact not true. Not all boys learn well by seeing and not all girls learn particularly well by hearing so to use this stereotype would be a total mistake.

As a parent if you find that you are parenting with a lot of unconscious gender bias, here are some expert tips to eradicate the feeling that there is a difference between boys and girls: 

Start young

Eliott believes that “children’s brains will never again be more malleable than they are during the preschool years [which provides a chance to] inoculate boys and girls against the potential trouble spots in their development”. So it’s important that you start practicing “gender blindness” from when the kids are still young. 

Be deliberate in your choices

Allow your boys to play will dolls and your girls to play with trucks. When buying books don’t just boy action, adventure and comic books for boys – but for your daughters too. Expose your daughters to activities that will help develop their mathematical abilities. Make greater effort in reading, talking and singing to your sons to develop their reading and writing skills. 

Pink, blue, yellow

While you might avoid saying statements like Pink is for girls and Boys for blue. It does not mean you should be stopping your daughter from buying a pink frilly frock. But it does mean that her wardrobe or her room should not be fully pink. Same goes for your son.  

Stop your family members from making bias remarks

It’s common to hear elders in the family saying things like “girls are good at reading and boys are good at math.” We must train our relatives about potential bias and to instead evaluate the kids on an individual capacity then by their gender.

Stop the labels

Often we say things without realising that we are propagating gender stereotypes. One example is how parents may label their sons as warriors and girls as princesses. 

Reinforce behaviours that shatter stereotypes

If you have a son that is crying ,for example, instead of Papa saying boys don’t cry, he could say, “It’s okay. Sometimes I feel like crying too”