Parents often have specific ideas about which gender is easier to raise. Besides the obvious physical differences, boys and girls are different -- and we don't need "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" author John Gray to tell us that. Understanding the differences in young children can help you determine activities to aid in your child's development.
Space and Movement
Boys need more floor space than girls, according to an article by Francis Wardle, Ph.D. on the EarlyChildhoodNEWS website. A boy’s need for physical activity means he wants to run, move that vehicle across the room, toss objects and generally take up space. A girl can play in a small area with dolls, have a tea party, or complete puzzles. Girls typically have fewer issues with confined spaces than boys. Boys also enjoy rough, active play, which can include playing on playground equipment or rough housing with siblings or Dad. Girls are less likely to rough house, are physically weaker than boys and benefit from large muscle activities, such as riding a bike, spinning and tumbling. Girls also benefit from playing organized sports such as T-ball, soccer or gymnastics to improve their spatial and hand-eye coordination, according to Lise Eliot in her book “Pink Brain, Blue Brain.”
Language and Academics
Boys need more practice with reading and writing -- and girls need more practice in math and reasoning skills, according to author Lise Eliot. Preschool girls develop language skills earlier than boys and often have larger vocabularies. Read to your preschool boy from books that have lots of words on the page, as well as pictures, suggests psychologist Heidi Smith Luedtke. Her suggestions include “Rattletrap Car” by Phyllis Root and “What Do People Do All Day?” by Richard Scarry. Words that rhyme or have repetitive patterns can capture his attention. Encourage him to repeat those words with you. To further encourage verbal development, you should also ask a boy open-ended questions that require detailed answers, such as, “What did you and Grandpa do today when I was gone? I want to know all about it.”
Little boys' fine motor skills lag behind those of girls, even if their large motor skills seem to run on forever. Encourage boys to cut paper, draw, copy letters and numbers, paint and pick up small items with their hands. While little girls might show little interest in toy tools, if you encourage a girl to help you create a project using tools, it can foster an interest in working with them. Encourage a girl's spatial skills by tossing balls, working puzzles, walking mazes, kicking balls and tumbling, notes Eliot.
Little girls engage in nurturing behaviors and might sometimes flirt with Dad, adds Eliot. Girls express their emotions easily and typically have no issues with crying in public. Boys have more difficulty and less opportunity to express their emotions. But perhaps that’s because too many people tell little boys “Big boys don’t cry!” Give your preschool boy the opportunity to tell you what he's feeling. You can encourage him by using pictures of faces to help him identify emotions.