Is there a special way of parenting boys? How different are they from girls? What kind of attention do they need to help them grow to their full potential?
All children of whatever gender need attention, guidance, and love from their families in order to develop their full potential. However, research has shown that there are differences in raising boys and girls, starting from birth.
Hearing, talking, touching: For instance, baby boys’ sense of hearing is generally not as well-developed as that of girls’. Girls’ hearing is more sensitive to speech discrimination, and verbal centers mature faster, which makes most girls talk earlier and better than boys. Since speech works better with young girls, then praising (“That’s great!”) or warning (“Don’t touch that!”) works better with girls than boys. Boys are more attuned to touch and movement, and they tend to be far more impulsive than girls.
This means that instead of verbal warnings, boys may need to be placed in, say, a time-out chair, or physically restrained from touching electric sockets. This also means that boys need more outlets for their energy. Far more boys than girls have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, impulse disorder, and so forth, though we should be wary of any diagnosis before the age of 7. Young boys, who are cooped up everyday in a classroom and not allowed to leave their seats for long periods, may not be ideal for many. After school, boys should be encouraged to play sports, or even just run around the garden or the track. Boys generally find it harder to connect verbal and nonverbal cues, and when growing up, they usually do not express their emotions as fluently or readily as girls. This means that parents need to be more patient with their sons. For example, when asked what happed in school, a boy may say, “Nothing much.” Even if communication may not come as naturally to boys as girls, they can learn to do so, when parents are open, accepting, and loving.
Exploring and taking risks: Lest parents think there is no advantage to raising boys, there is always the other side of the coin. Because of their speech fluency, preteen and teenage girls tend to constantly analyze, parse, or reflect on every single nuance of conversation, which makes them prone to verbal bullying, hold grudges, or bristle at the slightest criticism, even if imaginary. Boys tend to settle matters with fists, but after a fight, they tend to make up and forget about the whole thing.
Respect your kids: There are several other differences, which may become apparent in school. Boys may tend to find math easier than girls, especially geometry and spatial relations, but girls can excel here by dabbling in puzzles and building blocks rather than dolls and cooking sets. But as boys and girls mature, these differences become less significant. In today’s world, traditional gender expectations and roles are steadily disappearing. The best way to help our children fulfill their potential is to genuinely listen to them, treat them with respect, and encourage them to develop roots and wings.