What we thought. If you’ve been the parent of both boys and girls then you’ll know better than anyone that despite being from the same parents and raised in the same home, there is something profoundly different between the way your boys and girls developed. For years we assumed that it was a nurture-based phenomenon. Girls loved dolls and dresses because that’s what we gave them. Boys were rough-and-tumble truck lovers because we encouraged it.
The scientific reality. But modern research suggests that no matter how monolithically we attempt to parent, there are distinct difference between boys and girls and the way they interact with their world. The differences are actually in the brain and can be identified and measured. Hormone production also plays a significant role in cognitive and motor development. Rather than trying to negate, reverse, or ignore the differences, it can be most helpful and comfortable for all involved to simply embrace them.
Trends. While there is variance from child to child, there are some pretty basic trends around development in baby boys and baby girls. Browse the list here to see what you have to look forward to. Or, if you’re already well along the path of development with your little ones, can you identify these trends in your own children?
Sugar and spice and everything nice…If you are the new mother of a little girl, you can expect that she’s going to be more attuned to communication and expression of emotions than her little boy counterparts. Girls are more comfortable interacting with individuals and have an increased ability to detect and follow non-verbal cues. For example, if you make a face that communicates something along the lines of “watch out” or “bad idea,” your little girl is more likely to see, process, and act accordingly. Boys forge ahead–often to their detriment. Girls excel in fine motor skills and activities requiring greater precision. They are also likely to point and wave before their brothers.
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails…Been blessed with a boy? While a girl is more likely to fix her eyes on faces and talking mouths, boys watch action. They are quicker to gauge spatial relationships and physical cause and effect. As a general rule their gross motor skills develop faster and are more advanced than the girls. While girls are rumored to be more emotional, the reality is that boys may be just as emotional as girls. They are just less adept at expressing the emotion and may have a harder time self-soothing.
Developmental differences don’t necessarily suggest a great variance in personalities. We can all think of several tomboy girls, and just as many sensitive, pensive young boys. The main distinctions are in cognitive and physical development. How that manifests in each child, and how their personality is affected, will be completely unique to each.
What interesting boy-girl differences have you noticed in your own children?