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Are Girls or Boys More Difficult to Raise?


Most parents would attest that raising any child -- boy or girl -- is a difficult, albeit rewarding, job. But there are those who swear that raising one boy is equivalent to raising three girls ... or vice versa. Is there any basis to the claims, or is raising a child simply a challenge, regardless of gender?

raising boys

Boys thrive on hands-on, tactile activities.

Boys: Active, Risk-Taking ... and Less Likely to Listen?

It turns out that boys are, in fact, more apt to take risks than girls -- the pleasure center of boys' brains actually is stimulated during risky behaviors. Meanwhile, boys tend to be more aggressive and they are certainly more tactile, needing hands-on approaches to learning and discipline.

Boys are also less likely to listen to you in their early years, though this isn't necessarily intentional. Boys' hearing is not as acute as girls' when they're first born, and they tend to be less verbal in general ... instead leaning more toward impulsivity.

For this reason, boys may be harder to control, physically, in the early years. They may also have a harder time in school than girls.

Boys really thrive on hands-on learning tools, while most schools favor more visual-auditory learning. As a result, they may fall behind girls in school. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, when compared to girls:

  • Boys are 30 percent more likely to flunk or drop out of school

  • Boys score lower on grades and homework in elementary, secondary, high school, college and even graduate school

  • Boys are four to five times more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

" ... For the average boy, school is not as good a fit as it is for the average girl. More boys have problems with attention and focus than girls. Because of their higher activity level, boys are likely to get into more trouble than girls. And they are not given enough opportunities to move around - both in actual physical activity and in how they learn - because they spend too much time sitting and not enough time learning by doing, making and building things," says Michael Thompson, Ph.D. on

Girls: People-Pleasers, Insecure ... and Over-Communicators?

raising girls

Girls respond to your facial expressions and tone of voice sooner than boys do.

As infants, girls tend to be more cautious, more eager to please, and more likely to listen than boys. Part of this is because the verbal regions in girls' brains develop more quickly. Girls also tend to study faces more, where they quickly pick up on things like tone of voice and expression.

On the other hand, because girls tend to be more wary and compliant, they're also more likely to be insecure than boys ... and may need an extra push to try out new things. And because girls are so in-tune with communication, when they reach their pre-teen and teenage years, you can expect much more drama. Girls, for instance, may talk back more than boys, and they may experience harsher arguments with friends or emotional bullying at school.

Some parents also believe that while boys may be more "high-maintenance" physically, girls tend to be high-maintenance emotionally.

All a Matter of Perception?

When all is said and done, the above descriptions may perfectly describe your parenting experiences. Then again, they may not. Some girls may actually be confident risk-takers, boys completely in-tune with their emotions. It just depends, as every child is unique in their challenges and simplicities.

So rather than focusing on which gender is more difficult, perhaps the better thing to think about is how to enjoy the individual traits that make up your unique child.

Recommended Reading

Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Children

The Most Popular Boys' and Girls' Names in the U.S. (and How They've Changed)

Sources June 17, 2008 Understanding and Raising Boys Who's Easier: Boys or Girls?

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