Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Toddler Years

What does the toddler understand about gender?

By the third year of life, the toddler can understand that they fit into various categories. In particular, they learn that they belong to a specific gender; they are either a boy or a girl. For little boys, this is a fairly momentous discovery as their newly discovered masculinity marks a dramatic break with their mother. While little girls are “girls” like Mommy; little boys are “boys” unlike Mommy. Many little boys of this age become fascinated with adult men, following them around like adoring puppies. This is not an early sign of sexual orientation, only the hero worship of a small boy toward a new role model.


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