A common stereotype is thatboys see and respond to the worlddifferently than girls. This isn’t true ofevery boy, but for some, the energy canbe different, processing informationcan be different and languagedevelopment can be different. (Indeed,girls can have the same differences.)
But “different” doesn’t mean “more or
“Nothing makes me angrier than
when I hear a teacher say, ‘His reading
is pretty good—for a boy,’ ” says Eric
Perrault, assistant principal at Gordon
Townsend School at Alberta Children’s
Inside boys’ minds
It’s time to reframe our thinking about boy behaviour
Movement seems to help boys process information and emotions.
Hospital. “Boys’ reading levels would
improve if we let them read some of
the things they liked.”
Perrault, the father of three boys
himself, says it’s time to reframe our
thinking and expectations about boys’
behaviour and use their strengths to
help them thrive.
“One of the biggest accommodations
we can make is to let boys move.
Movement seems to help them process
information and process emotions,”
Perrault says. All-boy schools that
feature classrooms with many places
are one example of how adjustments
can be made to honour boys’ innate
tendencies to stay in motion.
Judy Arnall, a community healtheducator for AHS and mother offour boys and one girl, says genderdifferences are also a factor whenit comes to coaching children inappropriate ways to respond to theiremotions.
“Boys have a larger amygdala,which is the internal part of the brainresponsible for emotional arousal,aggression and competitiveness,”Arnall says. Combined with asocialization process that tends todiscourage expressions of sadnessor weakness, boys can wind up witha one-dimensional response to theworld.
By age five they’ve often internalizedthe “boy code” and may have learnednot to feel anything but anger. Nobodymay have explicitly told them that butthey can pick it up. As a result, boysoften wind up using fists over words.
One of the most helpful thingsparents and educators can do is toencourage all children to feel the fullrange of their emotions. “It’s OK to feelsad; it’s OK to cry,” Arnall says.
Perrault adds: “Boys benefit fromsocial guidance and coaching inemotional literacy. The most preciousgifts we can give our boys are love andtime.”
— Greg Harris