Raising boys and girls: differences in physical development Raising boys and girls: differences in physical development
There is a difference in physical development when raising boys and girls. Here’s a rundown of what to expect. Gender identity Children begin to... Raising boys and girls: differences in physical development

There is a difference in physical development when raising boys and girls. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.

Gender identity
Children begin to realize they are either a boy or a girl when they are as young as 18 months old. It’s between the ages of two and six that they start to identify with others of their sex and demonstrate play and behaviour that is typical of that sex. Both nature and nurture determine how these gender roles play out.

Physical growth

Up to adolescence, boys and girls grow in height and weight at about the same slow-but-steady rate. There aren’t notable differences between the sexes until late middle school/early secondary school, when girls start to grow taller faster, although boys catch up and exceed them within a few years.

Motor skills

Boys’ gross motor skills like running, jumping and balancing tend to develop slightly faster, while girls’ fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil and writing improve first. Often girls show an interest in art before boys for this reason.

Boys are also more physically aggressive and impulsive. The pleasure centre of the brain actually lights up more for boys when they take risks. That’s not to say that girls aren’t active and risk-takers, only that on average boys are more so.

Verbal skills
More boys than girls are late talkers, and boys use more limited vocabularies. Girls are better at reading non-verbal signs, like tone of voice and expression, which also makes them better communicators early on, as they can connect feelings and words faster.

This is something you can focus on when reading books with your son. Point out characters’ emotions so he starts to notice how others are feeling.

Toilet training
Girls are potty trained earlier than boys on average but it is unclear whether this is due to physical differences. Some simply put it down to the fact that because it’s usually the mother who does the training, it’s easier for a girl to relate to. Girls also wet the bed less often than boys.

Henry Okafor

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