Boys vs. Girls: Who's Harder to Raise
Can we finally answer the great parenting debate over which sex is more challenging to raise?
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.