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4boys1girlforme 06-18-2008 09:16 AM

Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/famil...ise/index.html

I often say that I spend more time and energy on my one boy than on my three girls. Other mothers of boys are quick to say the same. Forget that old poem about snips and snails and puppy dog tails, says Sharon O'Donnell, a mom of three boys and the author of "House of Testosterone." "Somehow it's been changed to boys being made of 'fights, farts, and video games,' and sometimes I'm not sure how much more I can take!"


Boys and girls are both challenging to raise in different ways, experts say.

Not so fast, say moms of girls, who point out that they have to contend with fussier fashion sense, more prickly social navigations, and a far greater capacity to hold a grudge. And as a daughter grows, a parent's concerns range from body image to math bias.

Stereotyping, or large kernels of truth? "I think parents use 'which is harder?' as an expression of whatever our frustration is at the moment," says family therapist Michael Gurian, author of "Nurture the Nature." "Boys and girls are each harder in different ways."

Every child is an individual, of course. His or her innate personality helps shape how life unfolds. Environment (including us, the nurturers) plays a role, too: "There are differences in how we handle boys and girls right from birth," says David Stein, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Virginia State University in Petersburg. "We tend to talk more softly to girls and throw boys in the air."

But it's also true that each gender's brain, and growth, unfolds at a different rate, influencing behavior. Leonard Sax, M.D., author of "Boys Adrift," believes parents raise girls and boys differently because girls and boys are so different from birth -- their brains aren't wired the same way. Parenting.com: Pros and cons of learning the sex of your baby

So, can we finally answer the great parenting debate over which sex is more challenging to raise? Much depends on what you're looking at, and when:

DISCIPLINE
Who's harder? Boys

Why don't boys seem to listen? Turns out their hearing is not as good as girls' right from birth, and this difference only gets greater as kids get older. Girls' hearing is more sensitive in the frequency range critical to speech discrimination, and the verbal centers in their brains develop more quickly. That means a girl is likely to respond better to discipline strategies such as praise or warnings like "Don't do that" or "Use your words."

"Boys tend to be more tactile -- they may need to be picked up and plunked in a time-out chair," Gurian says. They're also less verbal and more impulsive, he adds, which is especially evident in the toddler and preschool years.

These developmental differences contribute to the mislabeling of normal behavior as problematic, a growing number of observers say. Five boys for every one girl are diagnosed with a "disorder" (including conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, sensory integration disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder), says Stein, also the author of "Unraveling the ADD/ADHD Fiasco." Some kids -- most often boys -- may simply fall on the more robust end of normal. They need more opportunities to expend energy and aggression, as well as firmer limits. Parenting.com: Guns and dolls

PHYSICAL SAFETY
Who's harder? Boys

"Much after-dinner wrestling here," reports Michelle Mayr, the Davis, California, mom of four boys, ages 5 to 12. "I'm constantly fighting to keep my house a home rather than an indoor sports center. Their stuffed animals' primary function is to be added to the pile of pillows everyone is launching into from the coffee table."

In general, boys are more rambunctious and aggressive, experts say. Taking risks lights up the pleasure centers of their brains. Many parents find they have to keep a closer eye on what a son is "getting into," or use more bandages.

But letting kids explore -- at the cost of a few scrapes and cuts -- builds character, self-confidence, resilience, and self-reliance, says Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee." Boys, being natural risk takers, may need encouragement to slow down a little, but maybe girls need to be encouraged to take more risks. Look for opportunities for your daughter to jump off a wall, swim in the deep end, or try the bigger slide. Parenting.com: Potty training: girls vs. boys

COMMUNICATION
Who's harder? First boys, then girls

From birth, a girl baby tends to be more interested in looking at colors and textures, like those on the human face, while a boy baby is drawn more to movement, like a whirling mobile, says Dr. Sax. (These differences play out in the way kids draw: Girls tend to use a rainbow of hues to draw nouns, while boys lean toward blue, black, and silver for their more verblike pictures of vehicles crashing and wars.)

In a nutshell, girls are rigged to be people-oriented, boys to be action-oriented. Because girls study faces so intently, they're better at reading nonverbal signals, such as expression and tone of voice. Boys not only learn to talk later than girls and use more limited vocabularies, they also have more trouble connecting feelings with words.

"While most girls share their feelings and details of events, my three sons honestly don't see that as important. I spend my days asking, 'What happened then?' or 'What did he say after you said that?'" O'Donnell says.

Important note: Because boys hold eye contact for shorter periods than girls, parents may worry about autism, since this can be a red flag. "It's a relief for moms to know that this is normal and comes from the way the brains are set up," Gurian says.

As girls get to be 8 or so, things can get harder: The flip side of being so adept at communicating is that girls exert a lot of energy on it. There can be a great deal of drama around who's mad at whom, who said what and why, and more. Start when your daughter's a toddler to establish an open communication, so she learns she can come to you for advice. Parenting.com: Diapering tips: boys vs girls

SELF-ESTEEM
Who's harder? Girls

Developing a healthy self-image is critical to all kids. But as the more compliant and people-oriented gender, girls tend to grow up less confident and more insecure than boys, researchers say. Famed gender researcher and psychologist Carol Gilligan, Ph.D., calls this "the tyranny of nice and kind" -- unwittingly raising girls to be people pleasers.

"This cultural pressure to put others' needs first, ignore one's own gut feelings, and avoid asking for what one wants has traditionally harmed girls," says Jenn Berman, a California family therapist who wrote "The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids." "Despite the fact that she enjoys the positive attention and accolades that people pleasing brings, the more a girl pushes her own needs and desires underground to please others, the more likely her own self-esteem will suffer."

"I see a natural nurturing instinct in my daughter and her friends," says Tracy Lyn Moland, a parenting consultant in Calgary, Alberta, who has a girl, 11, and a boy, 8. "I find myself saying, 'I can take care of that -- you get yourself ready,' when she's trying to mother her brother."

Make no mistake, helpfulness and nurturing are virtues for everybody. But this tendency in girls makes it smart to help her explore and strengthen her inner nature and encourage her to try new things.

Body image is a big part of self-esteem, and though there's certainly body-image dysfunction in boys and men, it remains mostly a female issue. The natural rounding out of the body that happens in puberty clashes with the unnatural slimness girls see in the culture around them.

Be aware of the messages you convey about your own body, diet, and exercise. "It's painfully obvious that girls' negative body image can come directly from seeing their moms look critically in the mirror and complain," says Berman. "Teach your daughter to listen to her body's signals of hunger and satiety. Girls who listen to their bodies tend to listen to their instincts in other areas." Sports are a great way for girls to build confidence and a healthy appreciation for their bodies.

SCHOOL
Who's harder? Mostly boys

Boys and modern education are not an idyllic match. An indoor-based day and an early emphasis on academics and visual-auditory (as opposed to hands-on) learning ask a lot of a group that arrives at school less mature. In their early years, most boys lag behind girls in developing attentiveness, self-control, and language and fine motor skills.

The relatively recent acceleration of the pre-K and kindergarten curricula has occurred without awareness that the brain develops at different sequences in girls and boys, Dr. Sax says. Music, clay work, finger painting, and physical exercise -- early-ed activities that once helped lively kids acclimate to school -- are vanishing. Few teachers are trained in handling the problems that result.

One area where girls do less well in school concerns spatial learning, such as geometry. Girls may use different parts of their brains to process space perceptions. The key is for parents to present both boys and girls with plenty of no-pressure opportunities to try out the areas that are challenging. Parenting.com: Gender vending

The bottom line? On balance, the general consensus seems to be that boys are more of a handful early on, and girls more challenging beginning in the preteen years. Which means that, as the mom of daughters who are 12, 9, and 7, I have the next ten years cut out for me!

pbresolin 06-18-2008 09:19 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
I'm going to have to agree. I have a 17 yo DD and let me just say that I didn't think I was going to get through ages 14, 15 and 16 without going crazy :lostit: It's getting better, finally.

I have a 2 yo DS and wow, is it harder physically, especially. He is VERY active compared to her and my other DD (7 mo).

MommyScott 06-18-2008 09:22 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
I have two boys and two girls and I hate these kinds of blanket statements... my girls are harder than my boys :)

slturner 06-18-2008 09:26 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
I have 3 boys and 1 girl, and she definitely is the "hardest" out of the four. Maybe it's just because she's SO high maintaince.

River City Boutique 06-18-2008 09:41 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
I have a grown daughter 23 and son 19 and two daughters still at home ages 14 and 9. I would have to say it depends on the child. My oldest was tough around 13-15, my son was an angel until he turned five, he has ADHD which makes him one tough cookie. It was a lot of work dealing with his unleashed energy. I will say after he hit about 15 he became somewhat easier than when he was younger. Partly because he learned to focus some of that energy in the garage. My 14 year old is a bit of both, she can be difficult but the days seem to even out. My 9 year old seems to be my easy child thankfully since she is my last, and I am getting old...lol

On another point my mom had five girls she said we were all easy... I beg to differ lol I lived in that house.

I will say also that I have seen the difference in two parent households and by two parent I am referring to two participating parents! My two oldest were not in a house with two parents who shared the care and cooperation with disapline. Before my present relationship, my 14 year old had not seen any cooperation between parents, and the change was hardest on her when we moved up here, Took her about 5-6 months for her to start seeing that she couldn't play one against the other. And that rules were not such a bad thing.

For the past three years the two youngest have been in a very loving cooperative home and this makes a world of difference!

lawgirl 06-18-2008 09:46 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MommyScott (Post 3897957)
I have two boys and two girls and I hate these kinds of blanket statements... my girls are harder than my boys :)

I totally agree. Do you (general you, not the OP) realize that these types of statements and articles are making some would-be mothers dread the thought of a boy. I know I did. We generally don't find out the gender before birth, but with my last pregnancy I had so many ultrasounds that it became somewhat apparent that I was having a boy. I already had two adorable girls at home and the thought of having a boy sickened me. Literally. I am not proud of myself, just being honest. So much of my own feelings stemmed from these types of articles. You know what? I have a boy who will be one in two days and I am absolutely in love with him. To this point I see no difference between my boy and my girls, though I am sure that will change. One thing I will not do is talk about how hard my boy is to women who might end up dreading the thought of a boy one day. It is pointless to even discuss this IMO. All children are different. Actually to this point, my hardest one year old has been DD1 as she was into everything and could climb a cupboard faster than I thought it possible.

Calideedle 06-18-2008 09:47 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
I think it depends on the age/stage who is harder. Always have.

MommyScott 06-18-2008 09:49 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
I totally agree, these kinds of articles create all sorts of misconceptions for people....

Quote:

Originally Posted by lawgirl (Post 3898250)
I totally agree. Do you (general you, not the OP) realize that these types of statements and articles are making some would-be mothers dread the thought of a boy. I know I did. We generally don't find out the gender before birth, but with my last pregnancy I had so many ultrasounds that it became somewhat apparent that I was having a boy. I already had two adorable girls at home and the thought of having a boy sickened me. Literally. I am not proud of myself, just being honest. So much of my own feelings stemmed from these types of articles. You know what? I have a boy who will be one in two days and I am absolutely in love with him. To this point I see no difference between my boy and my girls, though I am sure that will change. One thing I will not do is talk about how hard my boy is to women who might end up dreading the thought of a boy one day. It is pointless to even discuss this IMO. All children are different. Actually to this point, my hardest one year old has been DD1 as she was into everything and could climb a cupboard faster than I thought it possible.


jmbisignano 06-18-2008 10:32 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
Anyone who makes a blanket statement about boys being harder never met my daughter!! :giggle: When I got pregnant this time around, my husband (although we would have been happy with either gender!) joked about how much easier life would be with another boy! I guess it depends on the kid!

MommyScott 06-18-2008 10:33 AM

Re: Who is harder- boys or girls??
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jmbisignano (Post 3898805)
Anyone who makes a blanket statement about boys being harder never met my daughter!! :giggle: When I got pregnant this time around, my husband (although we would have been happy with either gender!) joked about how much easier life would be with another boy! I guess it depends on the kid!


I think that's the point, it totally depends on each individual child, their personality type, how parents can handle particular stressors of each child, etc


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