Q: My 3½-year-old daughter is starting to really differentiate between men and women, boys and girls. She tells me she doesn’t like boys, but I see her play with them and all is fine. How should we deal with this?
A: Likely your daughter has heard that she isn’t supposed to enjoy playing with “yucky” boys, so she says what her peers expect her to say. But when she’s playing, boys are just other kids to her. I wouldn’t worry about it. When your daughter wants to talk about the differences between boys and girls as she sees them, listen to her. When she has questions about physical differences, answer those questions in a straightforward and honest way.
She may be picking up some sexist attitudes, in which case you’ll simply want to let her know that while some people feel there are things that girls (or boys!) can’t do, you don’t share that belief.
As she gets a little older, she may choose to play mainly with girls, or not. Whatever her choice, don’t let gender be an issue.
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