Did you know that before the 20th century, ALL babies, (girl or boy) up until the age of 5 or 6, wore skirts and dresses in all the same colors? In fact, it wasn't even until around 1918 that colors started being associated with gender, but it wasn't the way that you think. When colors first started being gender associated, pink was associated with boys because it is a derivative of red (anger, aggression, blood), and blue was associated with girls because it is a calm, pretty color. In the late 1940's, thanks to the Nazis, the color associations were reversed; blue became a boy color, and pink became a girl color. Big businesses began to realize that that commercializing these gender stereotypes caused their sales in baby/child gear to go through the roof. Fast forward 60 years of branding and merchandising and you will see how that has affected our children. Boys are told not to cry, that they should play some type of sports, and to dig in the dirt with cars and construction toys. Everything they wear is colored in “boy” colors and covered in images (like footballs, construction vehicles, and “tough” slogans) that are generally associated with boys. Girls are told they are very emotional creatures, that they should play with dolls, and pretend play house or school. Their clothing is usually colored in “girl” colors and covered in images (like princesses, bows, and “pretty” slogans) that are generally associated with girls. The problem here is not the colors, the toys, or the images. It's the push to make any one person someone that fits inside of a box.
There are a few things that you as a parent can do to help your child blossom and grow into whoever they were born to be. You are helping them learn to love themselves and others for all of our differences. By teaching our children that their differences are beautiful, we are teaching them to love the entire world. This could heal the world in time. I fully believe that our children are the key to peace on Earth.
5 Ways to Let Your Child Blossom Into Themselves
1. Let them pick their favorite colors. As soon as your toddler starts learning which colors are which, you should be letting them pick out their favorite colors. My son has picked out pink Dora sunglasses (which I have gotten flack for), green T-shirts, purple sweaters, and blue cars. I have never put an emphasis on any one of the colors that I have taught him. I try to point out colors everywhere we go; in nature, in the city, and even in our own home. Instead of saying “Look at that pretty bird!” I say, “Look at that BLUE bird!”
2. Have a tea party with your son and play trains with your daughter.My husband and I both frequently have tea parties with our son. He just LOVES to serve us a hot, steaming cup of jasmine tea. He also loves to serve us cookies from his wooden play kitchen's oven, and to paint and color to his little hearts content. Don't get me wrong, he also LOVES playing with his cars, dinosaurs, and legos as well. When I vacuum the house, he vacuums next to me with his little pretend dirt devil. Women all want a man who knows how to cook, clean, and do his own laundry. Children learn EVERYTHING from play, so it would make sense to teach them all aspects of life through play. A little boy can learn to be caring and paternal with a baby doll and a little girl can learn control of her body through sports and outdoor activities.
3. Encourage them to follow their dreams. I have always been told that I could do absolutely anything that I want to do. Just that one thought has been the foundation for who I am. No matter the gender, EVERYONE should be allowed to do what makes them happy (You know, within moral boundaries of course.). If your son wants to learn to tap dance or your daughter wants to learn to fence, let them experience what it's like to do these things. You never know where their genius may lie! In the Hippy Homemaker house, we frequently pretend to be architects, ballerinas, veterinarians, and train conductors.
4. Let them pick out their own clothes. I know how hard it is to want to make a fashion statement with your child on your hip, but it's very important to let a toddler begin to pick our their own outfits. This little bit of freedom gives them the chance to feel like there are parts of their lives that they have control over. As toddlers, they have so little control over their bodies, daily schedules, and even what they do for the day, so giving them little choices gives them a greater confidence in the choices that they make. Some of the outfits that Syfy (my son Silas' nickname) has picked out, I cringed at, but he was so happy to have the chance to make his own decisions AND the struggle that would normally ensue, didn't happen at all. He gets dressed pretty quickly and easily now.
5. Give them outlets to express themselves in everything that they do. There are so many ways that a child can learn to express themselves in their day to day lives. Listening and dancing to music, creating music, drawing/painting/coloring/lapbooking, and even (for the older children) creative writing are just a few ways children can learn to express themselves. The more a child is given outlets for expression, the more you start to see their unbridled personality come through the societal walls that commercialism has been building. Basically, don't stomp all over their creativity because they are showing you a special piece of who they are.
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About the Author:
My name is Christina Anthis and I am the Hippy Homemaker. I am a wife, mother (to my 2 year old son Silas Thor) and friend to many. Find more from this author at The Hippie Homemaker.
When I left this tiny island to go study in far away and cold Holland, I went with visions of all the art therapy skills I would be taught during my studies. I already imagined myself as an exceptional art therapist who would have the most amaaaaaaazing sessions with her clients every day. People would speak of the miracles I performed and would come to my practice with the most difficult clients. Children would be magically cured by touching the pencils I used.
It's a wonderful world inside my head.......
But last week such a session just..... happened!
And it even happened without much effort! I have to say I was speechless for at least 30 minutes afterwards. I was so impressed by my client. So thankful! I almost called her mom to give her her money back!
So, to all the clients who fearlessly dare to confront their inner demons: