Campbell Fiver Family Network

Boys are Made of Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dogs Tails...

NIchildmckinnon083Across the decades, parents have been caught up in zeitgeists which sometimes prescribe: “boys will be boys” and at other times dismiss gender differences entirely. Louann Brizendine’s The Male Brain looks at boys through a brain development perspective and pushes us to consider the idea that we need not be the same to be equal. Brizendine’s book shows that right from birth boy-specific genes and hormones drive the development of movement circuits in boy’s brains. These circuits in turn trigger the urge to track, chase moving objects and explore. Even as infants, boys prefer to watch animated objects in contrast to girls who are drawn to studying faces. At the same time, high levels of testosterone in combination with other hormones defeminise the boy brain. By the time a boy is 7 months old, he can read his mother’s facial expressions for fear and anger. However, by age 12 months, he is “immune” to these facial warning. Citing a study that examined one year old boys and girls in a hidden toy experiment, Brizendine reports that while girls would heed their mother’s facial warnings, boys would blithely ignore those same facial expressions in their drive to find the forbidden toy. A separate study found that at 27 months, boys more than girls break rules and take risks. So what’s a parent to do? Understanding that boy’s brains develop differently can allow parents to be firm but not angry. A boy is not defiant out of spite. He is subject to a male brain that wants to investigate and take risks. While these characteristics might make parenting a challenge, they are also qualities to nurture in the future entrepreneurs, astronauts, inventors and fathers of tomorrow.
Lisa Scalapino teaches Child Development at Vancouver Island University. She is also a part-time School Psychologist and Educational Consultant. Questions? You can reach Lisa at '; // -->
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