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decorative star graphic  The Play Years
Psychosocial Development
- Boy or Girl -

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Boy or Girl: so what?

•  Sex differences are biological differences.
       •  Gender differences are cultural differences.

Developmental Progression of Gender Awareness:

  • At age 2, gender-related preferences & play patterns are apparent.
  • At age 3, there is an understanding that male & female distinctions are lifelong.
  • At age 4, children are convinced that certain toys ( such as dolls & trucks ) and certain roles ( nurses & soldiers ) are appropriate for one gender and not the other.
  • At age 5 ( clear- cut ), when given a choice children play with children of their own sex.
  • By age 6, children have well-formed ideas & prejudices)

Theories of Gender — Role Development

Ψ  Psychoanalytic Theory - Freud

  • Phallic Stage - awakening sexual feelings ( boys & girls)
           • Oedipus complex - wants to replace dad ( boys )
           • Electra complex - wants to replace mom ( girls )
  • Identification - copies father
  • Superego - develops conscience

Ψ  Learning Theory notes:

  • all roles are learned and are the result of nurture not nature
  • gender distinctions that are so obvious by age 5 are evidence of years of ongoing reinforcement and punishment, rather than a product of any specific stage
  • also children learn by observation, example: by watching mom cooking & cleaning

Ψ  Cognitive Theory - Preschoolers' thinking about gender follows preschoolers ' cognitive patterns which are static & egocentric.

Ψ  Sociocultural Theory notes the pervasive influence of culture patterns.
    Androgyny as a goal: To achieve a balance, within an individual (either gender) such that the individual feels comfortable in breaking through gender stereotypes.
Ψ  Epigenetic Systems Theory points out the biological tendencies that are inherited through genetic transmission and explains how these tendencies may affect the child’s brain patterns as well as other aspects of behavior

Ψ  Conclusions: Gender & Diversity - Biology is NOT destiny, children are shaped by their experiences.

Human Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates
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