12 powerful statements to tell your kid

Utter these phrases often and show your sons and daughters that their abilities aren’t limited by their gender!

When Kristina Ong’s preschooler pleaded with her for a Spider-Man backpack, Ong didn’t think it would be a big deal.

 She certainly didn’t think the bag would make her daughter any less of a girly-girl. The 34-year-old says, “It didn’t cross my mind that it would make her seem like a tomboy, until another parent made the remark.”

But the remark didn’t change Ong’s decision to let her daughter carry her Spider-Man bag. “To me, it’s just a bag — it’s no big deal. She’s still very much the same girl at home.” Adding that she isn’t too concerned with labels, she notes that she would rather focus on how to be a better mum. “Besides, who says Spider-Man school bag is only for boys?”

“A dad may be gentler on daughters and tougher with sons, emphasising that females are of a weaker sex.”

Indeed, in a time when gender equality issues make the headlines every other day, it’s important to take care how you bring up your offspring. Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, points out that certain things you do may unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes.

“A dad may be gentler on daughters and tougher with sons, emphasising that females are of a weaker sex. Or a father may play [only] outdoors or some sports with their sons.”

Mothers are just as likely to reinforce stereotypes, too, often reinforcing stereotypes according to the kind of activities suited to the child’s sex, says Dr Lim. “They may teach only girls to sew or cook and expect the girls to do the house chores. While boys [are expected] to do manual work.”

Besides how you behave, Dr Lim explains that the things you say can also reinforce stereotypes. For example, by telling your daughter to be gentle because she’s a girl and your son not to cry because he’s a boy. Dr Lim suggests what you should say, instead: