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Boys & Girls: The 'Small Difference' and Its Effects

girl are good and bring home good grades, boys are wild and, at least from a scholarly point of view, mostly problem children. Something like that has been the tenor of the past few years. But now people are beginning to rethink, to change their perspective. We know there are crucial differences between boys and girls that can also be explained scientifically. But we also know that old ideas of "typically male" or "typically female" are long out of date. What many parents and teachers do not yet know is how to respond to the changed circumstances.

Girls are given more role models

Our boys - regardless of parental leave - are mainly surrounded by women in their first years of life. On the one hand there are the many single mothers or those who are single parents because their husbands work in other cities. On the other hand, there is the majority of female educators and teachers. Nothing bad in and of itself, the only problem is that girls seem to have an easier time with female role models. Simply because they tend to find a common level in terms of language and interests.

Of course, you can't lump everyone together, but in general it can be said that boys are louder and more demanding. "It is well known that there are differences in everyday life. Where these differences really come from, however, has not yet been established with certainty, despite numerous studies on this subject," explains Ulrich Gerth, a graduate psychologist. Is the behavior genetic or is it instilled? What role do the brain and hormones play? Are there perhaps other factors that we haven't really considered so far? These are the questions that scientists have been asking themselves for years.

The brains of boys and girls work differently

Boys have a greater urge to move, are more impulsive, have a different spatial imagination and love to test their strengths. The causes, say evolutionary psychologists, lie in the distant past: men hunt and fight, women gather and maintain social contacts. Which most of them still like to do today. Brain researchers also confirm the differences between male and female.

Even before birth, the brains develop differently, which is due to the concentration of the hormone testosterone. Reinhard Winter, author of the book "Young Boys - Instructions for Use" explains this. "On average, this has the consequence that boys 'brains are somewhat less evenly coordinated than girls'. It harmonizes less and goes more easily to extremes. Perhaps that is why boys are sometimes impulsive." A fact that Ulrich Gerth can confirm: "It is often the case that boys express themselves more strongly and, above all, more directly, they are usually less cautious and also more direct," said the chairman of the Federal Conference for Educational Counseling (bke).

"What girls do with language, boys do more in their behavior. Putting feelings and wishes into language, negotiating well, that's really more of a girl's business." But science also finds an explanation for this: The two halves of the human brain are connected to one another by the corpus callosum, or, to put it simply, a collection of nerve fibers. In women, however, this connection is much more pronounced. As a result, they are more talented in language because they allow feelings (right hemisphere) and reason (left hemisphere) to have their say in equal measure. But even that is only a guess so far.

Definitely male or female - that doesn't exist

Each of us knows at least one female tomboy and a boy who enjoyed coloring in first grade. Scientists today assume that personality is influenced to the same extent by genes and the environment. The social reinforcement from others, also outside the family, plays an important role here. With increasing age, of course, more and more. Experiments have shown that parents read more to their daughters and generally talk to them more, but rather romp with their sons and compete. But here, too, one does not know whether the parents unconsciously follow the internalized role models or also unconsciously respond to the different needs of the sexes signaled by the child. And always swear that they treat their sons the same way we treat their daughters.

Away from the problem child image

Basically one can say: boys have to be taken out of the problem child role and girls need more self-confidence in competition. There is a suspicion that teachers assign their male students higher competency in math and science subjects. In linguistic subjects, however, a lower one. And vice versa. And it is not uncommon for the principle of self-fulfilling prophecy to come into play here. "But there are also different opinions on this from educators and psychologists", explains the qualified psychologist Elka Stradtner. She heads the school psychological counseling center of the city of Nuremberg and could imagine that classes separated by sex could be a way of confronting girls and boys less with prejudice. Not without restriction, however. "A subject-related separation could definitely make sense. Basically, however, I think that the students benefit more from teaching together. After all, it is also important to learn how to interact and communicate with one another. Girls simply have different forms of communication. Differences of opinion tend to be dealt with verbally , sometimes even subtly hurtful, while the boys act out conflicts. "

Today it's the boys, in the past it was the girls

It is often much easier for us to look at the difficult and the problematic than to look at strengths and competencies. This has become particularly clear lately with the subject of "boys". There are the "poor boys" who, for example, do not fit into our school system and thus get problems, and there are the "bad boys" who cause problems for others. Of course there are, but there are plenty of others too. Jan-Uwe Rogge sums it up in a newspaper interview: "Sometimes this lamentation about disadvantaged boys annoys me. 30 years ago it was still the disadvantaged girls."

Boys need clear messages, girls sometimes too

"This almost whining whining of some educators does not help anyone," says the well-known education expert. "Boys are more brutal in the classic and positive sense. They want clarity, want clear messages, not only from their friends, but also from parents and teachers. They need personalities they can rub themselves against." Dr. Reinhard Winter. The qualified pedagogue has been involved in boy research for decades and he knows: "The perception of boys and the discussion about them are correspondingly incomplete. Their bright sides, their competencies, their self-development, the lively, creative, strong or great in boys then hardly noticed or immediately ticked off as a matter of course. "

Being able to be true to yourself

Is the consequence of all the scientific research and studies on the subject then that one should bring up one's child in an absolutely gender-specific manner again? True to the motto: An Indian knows no pain? Certainly not! That would not meet the needs of children or our society today. After all, just like other soft skills in professional life, emotional intelligence counts more than ever. Incidentally, emotional skills can be trained in the same way as technical skills. Reading the kicker makes just as much sense as reading a novel and sitting still is out of the question for a long time anyway. Walking up and down or jumping around learning has been shown to have benefits for both sexes.

There are differences in the preferences and needs of boys and girls. And it is a fact that both sexes look for appropriate role models. Not only at home, but also in sports clubs and at school. Ultimately, it's about finding a balance. And letting girls be girls and boys being boys.