You know what they say: boys will be boys and girls will be girls. But given that feminism and modern society continues to challenge gender norms, what really is the difference between boys and girls?
Before anything else, it’s important to consider that many of what we think are actual differences between boys and girls are actually due to culture. Even if we don’t say anything about it explicitly, we tend to have different expectations for boys and girls and we therefore treat them differently.
This includes giving them certain kinds of toys like giving cars to boys and dolls to girls for instance. But it also includes even subtle behaviors like consoling girls when they cry but telling boys to “man up” instead.
Scientists, however, have found quite a few unique skills that boys excel at, as well as those that girls are better at.
15 Baby Boys and Moving Toys
Researchers have found that even as babies, boys have a preference for things that move. While they do have other interests, anything that moves captures their attention and maintains it. They therefore favor mobiles and, when they’re big enough to get out of that crib, moving toy cars.
Later on, he’s more likely to want to play with balls or clumsily chase his father around the room. He might also like playing fetch or running around with pets.
14 Baby Girls and Human Faces
Baby girls, on the other hand, have a preference for human faces. Faces attract them and hold their attention. They’re better at learning and imitating facial expressions, as well as learning what these mean. This might be why women grow up with a better ability to read and deal with emotions. Even as babies, females start learning about them almost immediately.
Baby girls may therefore be more pleased with making faces and having “conversations” with the pet.
13 Baby Boys Like Crowds
For some reason, baby boys like it better when there are lots of people around. They like interacting with a jumble of people, possibly because there’s plenty of vibrancy and movement when there’s a crowd.
This may be how boys learn to be team players, which have always served them well, whether back in the days of war or in today’s modern sports.
Of course, this may vary a little depending on whether your baby’s temperament is more extroverted than introverted. Still, regardless of that, baby boys tend to be a bit more attracted to peoples’ movements than girls are.
12 Baby Girls Like Individuals
While some baby girls do shine in crowds, they seem to focus on individual persons more. This has probably something to do with their early fascination with faces. They’re more likely to focus their attention on one person at a time, possibly learning along the way all the subtleties in expression and emotion of each one.
This may be the reason why girls learn to value close relationships that involve sharing and conversation.
11 Girls Excel at Language Skills
Studies on school-age children show that girls tend to perform better in language skills. Being more attune with individual persons and their feelings, they quickly learn to communicate. They recognize quite early on that the things they say have an impact on other people, perhaps more so than boys. As a result, girls will imitate words and intonation earlier than boys. Because they get so much practice, this quickly translates to better skills – not to mention grades – in the languages later when they get to school.
10 Boys Excel at Spatial Skills
In the same studies of school-age children, boys were found to be better at spatial skills. Unsurprisingly, this is an important set of skills to learn when you’re playing sports. It’s basically making quick estimates of how far certain objects are from you and how fast things are moving, as well as the ability to mentally rotate things and imagine them from different angles in your head. If developed properly, this can also mean great performance in subjects such as math and physics.
Do note that you shouldn’t apply this learning stereotype to everyone, however. Some boys will excel in the languages, while some girls will do great in math and sports. It’s just nice to know that there are subjects in which one sex or another may be naturally more attune with.
9 Boys’ Toy Preference
Little boys like cars. That’s a well-known stereotype, but also a bit of a fact. Given that they’re attracted to things that move, cars are pretty much the ultimate toy for them. They might also play with dolls, given the chance, but as you may well know they’re likely to place these in their toy cars or get them to perform action-packed acrobatics!
8 Girls Play with Anything
Girls, on the other hand, are more versatile with what they play with. We tend to give girls dolls and clothes. However, they’re less averse to playing in a stereotypically little boy way with toys such as cars and soldiers.
Researchers, however, do recognize that this may have something to do with the fact that we tend to be tougher with little boys on what they play with. A boy playing with a Barbie, after all, is more likely to be bullied than a girl who likes to run around in the mud.
7 Boys More Aggressive
In the playground, boys tend to be more aggressive. They love competitive sports that may involve a bit of scuffle with a rival team.
While this may translate in far more playground fistfights, it also does teach boys a greater tolerance for adversity. After all, boys can get pretty aggressive on the playing field but, afterwards, still be friends as if nothing had happened.
6 Girls More Cooperative
Girls, however, prefer more cooperative play. Of course, they do enjoy winning a game against a rival team as much as boys. However, this doesn’t matter as much to them as maintaining a good working relationship with their teammates.
Because they value relationships, girls tend to talk about roles and feelings more. Boys, who we encourage to hide their own feelings, often perceive these discussions as female “drama.” However, to girls, this is an important process to develop teamwork and camaraderie.
5 Boys and Rough Play
Boys prefer running around and getting dirty in the playground. This may involve things like climbing trees and even pushing each other in the playground. While parents and teachers alike find this aggression disconcerting, it is a normal phase that boys go through.
The important thing to do is to just make sure they know their limits so they don’t end up in fistfights or quarreling outside the playground. Keeping them from exhibiting their rougher side may make them prone to pent-up violence and even bullying.
4 Girls and Fine Motor Tasks
Girls, however, prefer and excel at fine motor tasks. This makes them more likely to prefer play that involves writing, drawing, modeling clay and, of course, cooking in a pretend kitchen. Boys are, of course, able to do these as well. However, their end products will not be as refined and detail-oriented as those of girls.
Girls also have better eye to hand coordination and are better able to do more grown-up tasks such as buttoning their own shirt.
3 Boys are Restless
Because of all that testosterone flooding boys’ bodies, they’re more likely to be restless in class. They won’t be able to sit still and will likely fidget a lot. Because of this, they’re more likely to get misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorders even if, sometimes, the trick is just to allow them adequate time to run around. A great strategy in dealing with this restlessness is enforce learning techniques that allow boys to use their hands and feet. This, or course, requires extra creativity on the part of the parent or teacher. But considering that this natural restlessness could be the reason why, during the early years at least, boys tend to underperform in school, this may be an effective method of promoting learning.
2 Girls are Focused
Particularly during the school-age years, girls tend to get better grades. Researchers say this is because they are less impulsive than boys and therefore have a better capacity to control themselves. This makes for better discipline in studying, doing homework and paying attention in class. This is probably because the female hormones in their system get them to be calmer than the rowdy boys.
Girls also tend to be better behaved. This is because they are more sensitive to the feelings and needs of others. They are therefore more likely to be more considerate. This means they will wait for their turn in line or listen to someone who is talking. They’re also more sensitive about pleasing their parents by taking home good grades.
1 It Varies from Child to Child
Despite all these differences, it’s still important to remember that, at the end of the day, it really depends upon the child. The differences described above are based on a whole spectrum of children.
Some boys, after all, may naturally have typically female qualities in the same way that some girls have typically male qualities. We all know boys who have an uncanny ability to read other people’s feelings, as well as girls who are just clueless when it comes to emotion. There are also, of course, girls who prefer movement and rough play, often being branded as tomboyish, as well as boys who aren’t too keen on sports.
In the end, it’s important to get to know your child so you can appreciate exactly just how unique he or she is!