8 sexist phrases not to say to children

To naturalize the expressions that instil good values ​​in our children, we must learn to identify those that promote inequalities. Discover some of them here.


Today we are going to show you some sexist phrases that should not be said to children, to ensure that they grow up with freedom and equal opportunities. We know that language is the mirror of society and you might be surprised at what you’ll read.

There are sentences that we say without thinking about the impact they can have on the education of the little ones in the house. This is why it is essential to learn to take a step back when you realize that you are dealing with a sensitive and changing subject. In this way, we can achieve a more egalitarian and inclusive society.

Avoid the following sexist phrases with your children

Language evolves at the rate of changes that occur in society. In the search for equal rights and acceptance for all people, regardless of gender, changing some everyday words or phrases can be a good start. Here we present to you some sexist phrases that we should avoid.

1. “Is it a boy?” He is so handsome that he looks like a girl”

When someone sees a mother with her child for the first time and makes a mistake guessing her gender, he can use this phrase as an act of cordiality and politeness. However, this demonstrates the following:

  • That boys can’t be so handsome.
  • That girls are characterized by their beauty.

As you can already guess, neither of these two statements is true. Therefore, it is better not to use it so as not to fall into these cliches far from reality.

2. “You run like a girl” is one of the most viral sexist phrases

The big question that arises in the face of this statement is: how does a girl run?

This sentence wanted to respond to a short film that went viral a few years ago, in which the directors asked several little girls to run and compared the practice with the social construction that was created.

The way of running, for both girls and boys, is linked to individual characteristics and not to their sex.

3. “Girls are smarter and calmer than boys, who are bullies”

You may have heard this phrase when you revealed your baby’s gender to your loved ones. The truth is that the idea that boys are more bullies is internalized because, being men, they are biologically stronger. And, on the contrary, girls should be more delicate and calm.

This is a big mistake. According to a study developed in 2021 by sociologist Florencia Herrera, this conception only serves to configure the masculinity of children for parents. Thus, the feelings of the male child are underestimated and neglected compared to girls, even though they know and can express what they feel. In short, it is a label placed even before birth.

Finally, why do girls have to be smarter? Besides, what do we mean by “being intelligent”? The truth is that each person has a type of intelligence different.

4. “Real men don’t cry”

In line with the previous statement, this is another of the typical phrases to devalue the feelings of the little men of the house. Not only are they forced to repress their emotions, but they are required superhuman restraint and bravery.

On another side, Girls are also expected to do the opposite: to be sensitive and weak mentally.

5. “Sit like a lady”

How do the ladies sit? Why should a girl sit differently than a boy? This affects the idea that women should pay attention, at all times, to their surroundings and their behavior in public.

It is certainly a pressure that is not generally exerted on boys. They are remnants of that old idea of ​​”dishonoring” the family.

6. “You don’t hit girls”, one of the sexist phrases you shouldn’t say to boys

Because you can hit boys? We are convinced that at this very moment you are thinking about this question. The reality is that we must teach our children (regardless of their gender or sex) not to hit and to resolve their conflicts through dialogue and the comprehension.

Sport has no gender either and more and more girls are playing football for fun or as a vocation.

7. “These things are for boys, don’t be a tomboy!” / “These things are for girls, don’t be a fag!” »

You must learn to see that there are no things for girls or things for boys. We are simply different people, with different tastes, in a world of endless possibilities. We must therefore stop cataloging sports or different activities by sex and gender. For instance:

  • Football.
  • Martial arts.
  • Mechanical sports.
  • Sewing.
  • Dance.
  • Dress up as princesses.
  • Figure skating.

If, while reading the list, you think of a boy or a girl doing this or that activity, don’t worry. In this process of change, the first thing is to realize it.

8. “You are the man of the house and you have to take care of everyone”

Unfortunately, it is more than internalized that it is the man who takes care of the woman and protects her, but the truth is that this responsibility is a lifetime burden for one person. Moreover, in a couple of love, friendship or siblings, we must take care of each other.

We invite you to do a reflection exercise, especially if you take into account that this sentence is usually pronounced when children are still too young for such an emotional charge.

Make a habit of avoiding these sexist phrases

Sexism is a reality that is always present in language, and language, for its part, reflects the reality of a society. Therefore, we must learn to be careful of what we say to educate our children with good values.

Of course, we should not get rid of the naturalness of speech. In fact, the key is to normalize the right values ​​without getting into a lot of rhetoric, since the main objective is to communicate in a useful and economical way.

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