Since starting preschool, your son taunts his sister with “boys are better” remarks. Help!
I’d treat this one with eye-rolling disdain, as though what he said was too dumb to bother with. Useful phrases include, “Where did you get that idea?” “If it weren’t for a girl, you wouldn’t even be here” and “Remind me of that the next time you need help from your mom.”
– Phil Vettel
Give him a dose of his own medicine and tell him, “Girls rule; boys drool.” Then ask him how he likes it when you say things like that, making it clear that judgmental comments, even those said as a joke, can be hurtful.
– Amy Carr
Get to the bottom of that, pronto. Is it from boys he’s hanging out with at preschool? Or from boys in the neighborhood? If the former, talk to the teacher and alert her or him to what you’re hearing. Request, politely, that something be done about it. If this bias is being developed in the neighborhood, contact the parents of your son’s friends and alert them to what’s going on. In the meantime, stop the proverbial train every time you hear a “boys are better” comment and express your concern/displeasure.
– Bill Daley
“This is very typical,” says child development specialist Betsy Brown Braun, author of “You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-proofing Your Four- to Twelve-Year-Old Child” (HarperCollins). “Four-year-old boys are all about measuring and power. ‘My daddy is faster than yours.’
“It comes across as defiance, but it’s really about figuring out who they are and who has the power,” she says. “Saying ‘boys rule’ is very much in keeping with that.”
Preschoolers are often just beginning to understand the differences between boys and girls and using those differences to make sense of their world.
“It’s one difference they can clearly understand,” Brown Braun says. “So they say, ‘Boys only. Girls keep out.’ They’re not going to say, ‘People who celebrate Christmas only. People who celebrate Hanukkah keep out.’”
It’s a problem that kids are likely to work out among themselves, especially if your son makes the comments to girls, who are likely to set him straight in their own gentle or not-so-gentle way.
If you’re afraid that not chiming in sends him the message that you agree, you can nonchalantly challenge him.
Brown Braun suggests a mom could retort, “Oh, yeah? Well, I’m a girl and I say girls rule!” (Dads can revise the script accordingly.) “And point out to him that if he wants to set aside times when boys only can play, he’s going to have to accept when his sister excludes him because she’s decided that girls only can play.”
No need to wring your hands about your son’s budding preferences and observations, she contends.
“This has been happening since the beginning of time,” she says. “Socrates’ mother was probably complaining that little Socrates said ‘boys rule’ and reminding him to let his sister play.”
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