Words Maret Lesch
Young Children ages 1-6:
Motivate your child to care for, and respect, both boys and girls.
Create a caring attitude in your child by using everyday examples; when nursing the garden, or interacting with the family pet, or playing with toys. Show your child how he/she can help in taking care of the plants in the garden, or by letting them gently rub the family pet, and discourage your child to break or toss his/her toys.
Ask your child who is his/her favourite super hero, and how that super hero also takes care of people and the environment.
When your child may have hurt someone while playing explain why it is not nice to hurt someone. Be firm, but also caring in the manner you speak to your child. Ask your child why he/she did it, and listen to his/her answer. Explain that it is not OK to hurt someone else, and try to put him/her in the other child’s position.
OPPORTUNITY: Speak to your child why hurting someone, no matter the gender, is wrong. Refer to when taking care of the garden, or family pet, and how important it is to be gentle and caring. Also, make it very clear that your child can always tell you should he/she ever be hurt by someone else.
Two Important Words
My ‘no’ means no.
My ‘stop’ means stop.
Teach your child what these words mean. Teach them that they are entitled to use it. But also teach them that they should listen when a friend is using the words ‘stop’ or ‘no’, and that it means that they should then stop what they are doing.
OPPORTUNITY: Ask your child why a friend will say ‘no’ or ‘stop’. Create scenarios with your child about when one will want to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’. Encourage your child to not only stop what he/she is doing when someone uses these words, but also to use them when they feel uncomfortable or not happy.
My body. My pride.
Introducing your child to his/her body parts are the foundation how they will respect and take care of, or on the contrary be ashamed or embarrassed, about it. Encourage your child to speak about his/her body and teach your child the correct words for their genitals. Assure them that they can always come to you to talk about their bodies. Agree to answer questions should there be any. It’s OK If you don’t have the answer, be honest about It and say you will look it up and answer later – and remember to do so!
Bath time is a great opportunity to develop body pride and a sense of ownership of his or her body. Ask your child If you can wash his or her feet, legs, arms and private parts. If they prefer to do it themselves, let them. Keep it light by saying, ‘Sure thing, it’s your body, you wash it!’.
OPPORTUNITY: Teach your child that his or her body is special, and that someone can only touch it if they allow it. Explain that he or she must also respect other bodies, as everyone is special.
Giving your child a Voice
Make your child part of the everyday choices in the household, with limits naturally. But allow them to make simple decisions with you. Ask your child what he or she wants to wear, or play. On Saturday’s ask your child if he or she wants to go to the park, or play with a friend. Let them decide.
OPPORTUNITY: Your child learns that his or her voice is important, and that you as a parent listens to them. If ever your child is in trouble or something happened which makes him or her feel strange, they must know that they have a voice, and that you will listen.
An equal playground
Create opportunities where your son, or daughter, learn a new skill that is stereotyped as being a ‘man’ or ‘woman’s’ job. Let your son help wash the dishes, or help cook dinner (with parental guidance of course!). Show your daughter how to fold a tie or let her take out the bin with you. Tell them that no matter the task, anyone can do it.
OPPORTUNITY: Teach your child that all chores in and around the house must be done and that everyone should work together. Chores, no matter what it is, do not determine your gender, or lessen your status as a man or women.