Gender identity: A possible concern for preschoolers?

content provided by mayoclinic.com

Gender identity: A possible concern for preschoolers?

Question

My daughter is 4. She seems to have an attraction to male clothes, toys and friends. She's always saying, "I'm a boy." Even when she plays with her older sister, she insists on playing a male role — male doctor, male farmer, father. Is this something to be concerned about?

Sara
No state given

Answer

By age 2 or 3, most children establish a clear gender identity. Often, this understanding of being a boy or a girl is consistent with the child's anatomical sex — but not always. In fact, the type of behavior you describe is fairly common for a 4-year-old. There's no need to be concerned about your daughter preferring stereotypically male clothes or toys. Likewise, it isn't worrisome if a young boy likes to play with dolls or other traditionally feminine toys. Simply support and encourage your daughter in her interests and preferences. Avoid judging her, and don't feel guilty or embarrassed by her behavior.

If your daughter seems to struggle with her gender identity as she enters adolescence, you might consider speaking with her doctor, a school counselor or a mental health provider — especially if your daughter seems distressed by the fact that she's female. Together, you can determine how to address your daughter's gender-identity concerns. Individual or family counseling may be helpful.

Last Updated: 2009-01-06
© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Terms and conditions of use

 

Bookmark and Share   E-Mail Page   Printer Friendly Version