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What causes girls to be girls and boys to be boys? Nature or nurture

Parents attempt to raise their kids in the same way but the differences between the gender can be noted from very early years in development. Boys are aggressive and active while girls are sensitive and patient. Girls possess better motor skills while boys excel in spatial reasoning. While boys are crazy at the sight of a toy car, girls are hooked to their dolls. Even parents take into account these preferences and refer them as ‘Mom’s strong boy’ and ‘Daddy’s little princess.

Nature or nurture

Is it Nature or Nurture? A tricky question

There are enough evidences to prove that children exhibit their behavior due to their gender which is a natural phenomenon. However, there is another very important factor which strongly affects children, which is the environment. Most researchers are still debating on which is the most important factor in deciding child behavior-nature or nurture. Scientists have ascertained the fact that there are biological differences between the two genders but still the role of social conditioning cannot be demeaned. The debate is still on, and you really need to do a reality check before you pass your judgment.

Nature impact on gender behavioral differences

It cannot be denied that there are quite a lot of differences between boys and girls which find expression from infancy itself. On the physical aspect, boys exhibit more muscularity and strength than girls. Baby boys like action and take interest in whatever is related to motion. Conversation might not interest them but playing around does. Baby boys are a fearless lot who take time to calm down once they get agitated. Baby girls love all the attention and are adept at reading faces. Being better listeners, they pick up communication very fast as compared to boys.

Brain Power

Brain plays a significant role in making these differences between boys and girls. Interestingly enough, male brains are bigger in size than the female brains whereas female brains possess better connections between the different hemispheres of the brain. Contrary to a male brain, a female brain uses two sides of the brain to complete most of the tasks. Female brains possess neurons specializing in language processing in both sides of the brain while male brains have it mostly on the right side. The different wiring of the brains enable boys and girls to acquire different abilities and react differently in a particular situation. Hence, girls are better at reading and writing, express emotions more easily whereas boys are attracted to spatial activities and exhibit aggression more often.

Nurture impact on gender stereotypes

Though nature seems powerful in ascertaining the different behavioral aspects of the two genders, the role of environment is also at par. Studies have shown that newborns are subjected to gender stereotype behavior from the time they are kept in the nursery; pink socks for girls while blue for the boys. Girls are soothed to comfort when they fall down while parents encourage their boys to be tough and not cry when they get hurt. From the beginning, parents buy soft toys for girls and cars for boys with a firm belief that this is what they want. Girls are given an environment so that they can hone the skills in managing household chores and boys are discouraged from being shy and sensitive.

The molding act

Children exposed to such strong differences of gender behavior gradually acquire these behaviors and do just as they are indicated. Unknowingly, in their growing years they form opinions about the gender differences and act according to what the society expects from them. Media further enhances the effect of stereotyped attitude in children and they get to see girls being mushy and boys being bold and active on television. Even if there are exceptions in preferences, children are constantly reminded to how they should behave and in most cases, parents promote this behavior as being ‘normal’. So, environment helps in the classification of ‘girl’ behavior and ‘boy’ behavior.

To answer the question, which is of more importance- nature or nurture is undoubtedly a difficult one. Nevertheless, experts have acknowledged the fact that both play significant roles in the development of a child. A child might possess predispositions to stereotype gender based activities due to genetics but the social environment strengthens and reinforces these predispositions. Parents need to make sure that they do not impose any preferences on children and let them develop their own interests. After all, a healthy life is a combination of both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’.

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Author, Chartered Consultant, Personal Branding Expert & Global Trainer at DrPrem.com
Author of several life improving guide books – Dr Prem is an award winning strategic global leader, successful chartered consultant, personal branding expert and global trainer.  Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries to work with above 150 international organisations and to speak in global conferences. Dr Prem has published several guide books and numerous niche websites which have millions of reader across the globe.
Dr Prem Jagyasi
Dr Prem Jagyasi