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? 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.
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!
Parenting contributing editor Paula Spencer is the coauthor, with Jill Stamm, M.D., of Bright From the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, From Birth to Three.