Girls vs. Boys

Author's Note: I came across this article and I think it's worth sharing for the teachers and parents to have a better understanding about their kids' behaviors.

Understanding why boys and girls are different can make you a better parent.
“There is no proof that one sex is smarter than the other.”

Boys. Girls. The dichotomy begins long before they are born. Old wives’ tales exaggerate it with amusing (but often, uncannily true) advice like: Carrying high? How lovely, it must be a girl. Pointed belly? Smooth complexion? Congrats! It’s a boy!
Parenting is already a complicated journey. Throw in an unexpected sonogram result and you may find yourself wondering how on earth you’re going to manage with a child of the opposite gender:
“It’s a boy? But I was so sure it would be another daughter!”“Eeek! How will I raise a daughter after having three boys?”
Relax. This article hopes to keep you prepared by clarifying some of the differences.

First, a word about stereotypes
There’s no such thing as a girl being easier to raise than a boy, or vice versa. Every child is unique. Not all boys like rough and tumble play. And not all girls prefer Barbie dolls. How children behave and react depends on both Nature and Nurture—innate personality as well as the environment they grow up in.
However, when we treat boys and girls in different ways, it tends to shape their overall behaviour, likes and dislikes. Says David Stein, a professor of psychology at Virginia State University, "There are differences in how we handle boys and girls right from birth. We tend to talk more softly to girls and throw boys in the air."
Although this article strives to stay clear of gender stereotypes, certain differences cannot be ignored. Please take the following information as a guide only.

1. Perpetual motion
A boy is kinetic energy personified. He will often scamper off with little regard to safety, leaving toys everywhere, tripping over them and getting bruised and bumped.
Young girls may be as boisterous as young boys. Sometimes even more so. However, they “calm down” at about preschool age. One Harvard University study says that, "By school age, the average boy in a classroom is more active than the girls — even the most active girls don't seem to express their energy in the unrestrained way characteristic of most boys."
Do remember the key words “most boys”. Some boys may prefer to use their energy differently, such as by immersing themselves in books or puzzles.
Says Dr Michael Thompson, co-author of the book Raising Cain, “Not all boys want to compete in sports, wrestle, and shoot guns. It's important to remember that there are quiet boys and studious and bookish boys as well, and this is perfectly normal.”

2. Attention span
Young boys also have wandering minds. They will rarely have an attention span long enough to remember where they left a toy or a toothbrush or your $1,000 cell phone.
Girls are normally better suited to sit-down, memory-based tasks because they develop the required attention span and fine motor skills quicker than boys do. Several studies indicate that even infant girls have been found looking at visual stimuli longer than infant boys!
However, prepare to be surprised. Some boys, given an activity they are passionate about, may sit at it for longer than some girls. Often, parents who have only sons and no daughters will notice that one son may be more attentive and quieter than his boisterous brothers. Similarly, one girl may be louder and rougher than her sisters. This is nothing to be worried about. Again, it all boils down to the individual child.

3. Learning and listening
Does attention span make girls better learners? There is absolutely no conclusive proof that any one sex is smarter or less bright than the other.
Everyone, boy or girl, learns differently. However, studies do indicate that girls are better listeners, as early as from birth. Author of Nurture the Nature, therapist Michael Gurian suggests that girls have more sensitive hearing and discriminate between speech patterns more easily. This makes them more responsive to teachers and parents and more likely to listen when you tell them to stop doing something.
So now you know why your son won’t listen!

4. Self-esteem
Traditionally, girls have always been told to suppress their wants and give in to their brothers. Modern parents do try to limit this. However, many of us unwittingly revert to how we ourselves were brought up and may unknowingly encourage our daughters to be submissive, regardless of whether she is the older or younger child. With an older brother, a girl may try hard to please to be included in his games. With a younger brother, a girl may display mothering instincts, allowing him to have his way although it is unfair to her.
Says Jenn Berman, therapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids, "The more a girl pushes her own needs and desires underground to please others, the more likely her own self-esteem will suffer."
One other thing. While boys are more likely to shrug it off, girls are more likely to feel vulnerable about body image. Parents can help prevent self-esteem issues like these by treating each child fairly and encouraging their daughters to always feel good about themselves.
Balancing actEnergy levels, attention spans, learning styles and self-esteem are just on the tip of the iceberg where gender difference is concerned. Young boys and girls differ in too many ways, from preference for toys and hobbies to how they make friends (boys in groups, girls in pairs) to list here. What is important is that we don’t label our kids with the stereotypes we grew up with. Instead, let us teach them to treat their brothers and sisters with compassion and mutual respect. And let us honour and love them equally, recognizing them as the unique, young individuals they are.

By Sujatha Rajagopal