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Why does my daughter dislike to be called a girl?

Q: My daughter is 3.5 years old. She is quite intelligent, mature and smart. The problem with her is that she does not like to identify with her own self as a girl, so much so that she does not want to wear a frock or similar dresses. She does not want us to introduce her as our daughter or even praise her as a 'good girl’ or with similar words that categorises her as a girl. My mother-in-law stays with us. My daughter keeps saying that there are 2 female and 2 male members in our family. She counts herself a part of the male member count. Our family is quite progressive and there is no gender bias at all. So we are quite surprised with such an attitude. One thing I think would be worth mentioning here is that she is very attached to her father and sometimes even says that how can my father be a boy and myself a girl?. Should we do something or just ignore her behaviour?

A:Children go through phases of gender-role identity adoption. It would be best to avoid arguing with her over gender issues. It is evident that she is identifying with her father and therefore wants to think of herself as a boy. She is declaring this identification, and perhaps showing rebellion towards you. As she grows older, you can expect a change. Peer pressure and identification with same-sex parent would occur. Meanwhile, since you do not have gender bias, it may be possible to refrain from expecting 'girlish' behaviour for some time and not referring to her as a girl. Try not to make it a power issue or take it as a personal insult. Exposure to appropriate gender stereotypes, family discussion and debate over gender issues when she is older, and her own need for peer conformity would gradually prove useful in helping her decide for herself.

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