Learning and Behaviour

Powerful Essays
Topics: Gender, Gender role
Learning and Behaviour
B232
This essay will be identifying and examining the factors that gender differences have in influencing children’s learning of behaviour. Children learn what it means to be a boy or girl at a very early age. Identifying gender and its roles in early childhood is a vital moment in the human development. In many societies, families set different standards and expectations of what their children are to do in life. One factor that plays an important role in gender identity is a child’s exposure to the definition of what a female versus a male is. Another factor is the parent’s upbringing of the child and family traditions.

By the age of two years most children know whether they are a boy or a girl, and children begin to understand the difference and gender norms between girls and boys by the age of three – four years old. Gender norms surround things that society expects a boy or a girl to do, like ‘boys should not play with dolls, and girls should not be builders, men can not be nurses, and girls can not be doctors” (Dermon – Spark, as cited in New Zealand Tertiary College {NZTC}, 2011, p.24). “Gender stereotypes are widely held beliefs about characteristics deemed appropriate for males and females” (Berk, 2006, p.520.). Gender stereotyping is present from a very young age as parents dress their babies in pink for girls and blue for boys. “Parents create different environments for boys and girls. Parents give their sons toys that stress action and competition, while giving their daughters toys that emphasize nurturance, cooperation, and physical attractiveness’ (Berk, 2006, p.531.).

Social and cultural beliefs and expectations can influence children’s understanding of their gender identity and their roles as they may observe different gender behaviours by others. “Gender roles are cultural prescriptions about the way males and females should behave that are passed on by families, peers and social institutions such as the school”

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