Every child develops at their own pace. But does gender play a role in the development of a child? Are girls better at verbal communication? Do boys better at activities such as solving puzzles? Can it really be a gender thing? Let’s explore the developmental differences between boys and girls beyond what we already know of.
How Their Brain Develops At An Early Age
There are differences in how a girl’s and boy’s brain work since they are born (1). Babies who are 3 months old react differently to the sound of humans based on their gender. It is presumed that since these differences are seen very early on in their life, it can be a result of sex-related hormones or genes. In boys, the level of testosterone increases at just 7 weeks of gestation. Testosterone affects the development of neurons in the brain. On the other hand, the role sex hormones play in a female’s brain is yet to be known.
Areas Where Girls Lead
Girls are a bit more advanced in terms of cognitive and sensory development (2). This includes hearing, vision, smell, memory, and touch. Female infants are more socially attuned when compared to male babies. They respond more quickly to human faces and sounds. Girls also respond more vigorously by crying when they hear another baby cry. Further, girl babies are ahead than boys when it comes to fine motor and language skills as well.
Areas Where Boys Outperform Girls
By the time they are 3 years old, boys catch up on girls in many areas (3). Visual-spacial integration is a cognitive area where boys outperform girls. They become more well-versed in assembling jigsaw puzzles, navigation, and certain hand-eye coordination movements. Guys of all ages tend to be better when doing tasks like mental rotation. For those of you wondering what it is, just imagine how a particular object would be if it was rotated at any angle, say 90 degrees.
Females, on the other hand, outperform males at certain tasks such as verbal communication and identifying the emotional expression by looking at a person’s face. Now you know why your girlfriend or mom can easily catch you when you are lying.
But it’s important to note that these findings only describe the average differences between male and female. There can be many boys who have excellent verbal skills. And similarly, you would be able to find many girls with great visual-spatial ability. Since there are different tendencies between the two genders, you cannot expect all children to conform to these findings.
How To Encourage The Development Of Other Skills?
Though hormones and genes get things rolling, they are not 100% accountable for the gender differences in a kid’s brain (4). The things that he/she is surrounded by and the experience also plays a part in honing their skills. For example, a boy with advanced spacial skills is more likely to prefer activities such as climbing or pushing things around which will further hone his skills.
Similarly, a girl may gravitate more toward playing with dolls and other stuff that will help her further develop her verbal skills. So, instead of just magnifying the initial skills that they had, engaging kids in other activities can help them develop in areas they are lacking in. Engaging a girl with a jigsaw puzzle and a boy with word games can help them reinforce their other skills. So, the next time you play with your kid or your babysitter comes home, try engaging your kids in activities they normally wouldn’t do because of gender stereotyping.
If you have twin babies, it would be fun to watch how each kid reacts to your voice or certain things. You can also arrange playdates with other mom friends to see if your baby conforms to these findings.