Is your daughter a Tomboy or a Girly Girl?

Oops - I had a lovely crayon drawing here
Tomboy or Girly Girl ?

Let me be clear from the outset (before I anger you) I’m not suggesting we should categorise kids as Tomboys or Girly Girls.  I’m not sure exactly what a tomboy or a girly girl is to be honest? It seems the rest of the world doesn’t quite agree with me though. But is this an issue?

I’m a Tomboy aren’t I?

My eldest step daughter (6) said to me the other day :

” I’m a tomboy aren’t I? ”

Not really as a question, but more as a statement of fact. I told her she isn’t. She is a mix of lots of things like all people are.  She was quite insistent that she doesn’t like ‘girly’ things and so was a Tomboy.  At which point our 4-year chirped up with ‘I’m a girly girl, I like princesses’.

A Bit of Everything

Oops - this should be a picture of my lovely boots and heels
Who needs to choose – wear both

Personally, I think I can be summed up in one neat sentence ‘Walking Boots and Stilettos’. You may find me romping around the countryside with my dog in walking boots and waterproofs covered to the knees in mud. On the other hand, you may come across me glammed up to the nines with false everything stuck to me and really very large hair.  Actually, one of my most comfortable places is sat in front of a computer doing technical wizardry, which would previously have been thought of as a very male role. People are multifaceted, right? To be just one thing would be ever so dull.  So, while having a preference for things which are traditionally thought of boy things or girl things doesn’t define me. And it shouldn’t define our kids.

Why do kids categorise themselves?

The Science Bit

This is an interesting one.  I’ve learnt soops - this was supposed be a hilarious thingy bobbyo much on this topic by doing
some reading around in various medical journals and child behaviour books- it’s really enthralling (don’t look at me like that, I know I’m a geek)

It seems that from around 3 years old children naturally develop the skill of categorising. This is backed up by the UK national curriculum which encourages and develops this skill.  At first kids want to play with other children about the same age.  As they develop their grouping skills further they may decide that all girls are this and all boys are that.  It is a natural progression of distinguishing people.  At the stage when children are naturally grouping people based on age and gender it only makes sense that they will be more aware of their own position in these groups. It’s a natural thing for them to categorise themselves and Tomboy is just a word they can use for this.

As we get older we learn to group things in multifaceted, complex groups based on a whole host of things we learn and experience. Perhaps we learn that these groups are no longer necessary in order to make sense of the world? (In some cases, people obviously continue to judge based on broad groups but let’s not go into that.)

Does it Matter?

Well this is a contentious question if I ever read one.  People views vary widely on whether gender classification of young children is a damaging thing or not.  For what it’s worth (which may be very little) my opinion is that whilst it’s not the best thing to encourage gender stereotyping; we also need to be aware that our children will learn more complex ways of differentiating people with time.  This grouping is natural at a young age and my 6 year old classifying herself as a Tomboy is likely something she will grow out of.  As long as she knows that she is encouraged to be whoever she wants to be. That she is in a safe loving environment where being herself is always accepted, well that’s good enough for me.

What can we do?

Interestingly I came across this KickStarter recently on Twitter which dealt with this very problem (I’m not connected to it any way).  It aimed to create a childrens book in which the girl isn’t always the princess or the damsel in distress.  Now this is something I can get behind.  If my little one sees herself fighting the dragon rather than being rescued by the handsome knight then I want her to have something that she can relate to.  A love of reading is such a valuable gift we can give to our kids and relatable characters really help with that.  I’ve contributed to the kickstarter (which is something I very rarely do) and I’m really very much looking forward to the book.

Thanks to @ClimbingTreesTs for starting the kickstarter – Busting stereotype myths and empowering children to be proud to be themselves  book now on Kickstarter

16 thoughts on “Is your daughter a Tomboy or a Girly Girl?”

  1. This is interesting! In an time where we are trying to break gender roles, we still need to nurture our children’s development…and that includes learning to classify things.
    Thanks for sharing. #triumphanttales

  2. Interesting discussion. I have 2 daughters, night and day! My eldest is sporty and full of wild emotions, she likes to get dirty and run barefoot wild and free. My youngest is more into dolls, skirts, pretty things, sparkly shoes etc. The other day my eldest insisted on getting a pair of gold high heels. I hid my shock and gladly bought them for her. I am trying to encourage both my girls to be free to embrace whatever makes them happy. I hope I succeed and they know they will always be free to choose their own path in life.

  3. Both my girls will climb trees and get muddy, shoot bows and arrows etc. My eldest is not particularly what you’d consider girly nor would I say she’s a tom boy. My second loves pink and princesses but equally loves other things too. Sarah #FabFridayPost

  4. We all go through different stages in life, I know Cklio did a tom boy phase and a girly pink phase, it is all part of growing up and quite normal #fabfridaypost

    1. You tell a lot about a person by their shoes and my collection certainly shows that I’m not just one thing

  5. My nine year old was the girliest girl I ever did see- now a total tomboy- so who knows what she will be tomorrow! I adore how well rounded she is.


  6. This is really interesting reads. People says and even Evelyn – my little says it herself that she is such a girly girl, but to be honest she doesn’t not have any of the girly girl quality in one bit. She loves getting messy and all. The more messy the better! lol! Thank you for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost

  7. This is a really interesting topic. I personally have no problems with children breaking the stereotype and if anything I encourage it. However I know there are constraints with some with regards to physical jobs if someone has the wrong build but I hope in time the reasons would be due to their height or being too weak to carry out a labourous job, not based on their gender.
    If we teach our children right, gender stereotypes will be a thing of the past!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week.

  8. Gender stereotypes is something that has always got to me. It annoys me especially that toys are aimed at either boys or girls – why can’t all children love different things. I have a boy and so can’t speak about tom boys or girly girls, but when Little Man found an old Barbie of mine during a house move, I didn’t tell him he shouldn’t play with it. Thanks so much for linking up to #TriumphantTales, we’d love to have you back next week 🙂

  9. I have never contributed to a Kickstarter before I contributed to the very same one! Love it!

    I’m not a fan of gender stereotyping and I worry that the national curriculum is pushing this categorisation because isn’t life so simple and neat when we can put everything and all people into handy little boxes? I haven’t done extensive reading around this, though I am a total geek on the subject too so will now be searching it out, but my gut tells me that if we didn’t offer our adult framework to kids in the form of pre-set categories, we might be in for a really interesting ride; watching them come up with their own categories for life! #ablogginggoodtime

    1. I completely agree, the research seems to suggest that children will form groups and categorise the world but it would be fascinating to know what groups they would come up with without external influences!

  10. Great debate. My daughter loves the cliched princess girly stuff but at the same time I’d love to see a female heroine who isn’t always a damsel in distress! #humpdaylinky

  11. A really great post and thank you for sharing on #sharewithme – I have a girl and three boys. I describe my daughter as a cross between Lara Croft and Barbie – she’s a great blend of two extremes and I wouldn’t have her any other way.

  12. I think it’s important to encourage our little ones to be whomever and whatever they choose to be and let them know we will support them all the way no matter what. Great post!
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime Please join us next week too!

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