I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with both a boy and a girl.
We hit the baby jackpot; the pigeon pair; the pink and the blue. And now that they are growing up, it’s quite obvious to me how different boys and girls can be.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love having one of each. I love my daughter’s passion for ponies and my son’s passion for Iron Man. I love my daughter’s feisty personality and my son’s awareness. However, lately, I have found myself wishing on a regular basis that my second born was, in fact, a boy.
Why? Because my second born, my daughter, is so freaking difficult!
Raising Boys vs Girls
We fight. Like full blown screaming matches that I am positive the neighbours can hear. She throws her cereal on the floor. She hides in the pantry and pouts. She slams doors. We argue about what she is going to wear. She refuses to wear anything I select for her and usually ends up wearing a dirty ‘puppy’ shirt and three pairs of pyjama bottoms plus a mismatched pair of shoes.
She ruins my stuff. No jokes. Mid-fight, she will grab my phone and throw it across the room or slam it to the ground in an attempt to break it. It’s the same with my shoes, my makeup, anything that is mine. She cries to her ‘daddy’ with her little lip out and her eyes wet with tears, all the while looking back at me and scowling, a look of deviant success spread across those baby lips. She usually gets her way too.
But, here is the clincher. She is 19 months old.
She can’t even talk properly yet. I can only imagine what the terrible twos will bring.
And then there are the teenage years. It’s payback, I know. Payback for being a rotten teenager and causing my parents years of grief as I snuck out of the house, lied about sleepovers and stole from their beer fridge.
But all of this attitude got me thinking – was my son like this? I swear he wasn’t. Yes, we fought, and yes, he was stubborn, but this attitude, this ‘Queen Bee’ mentality, it’s all new.
Is my daughter in a world of her own here, where she is going to reign no matter how many cities she attacks until she gets her way? Or are girls more difficult to raise than boys?
What the Experts Say
There have been numerous studies and debates about which gender is harder to raise. And, in terms of hearing and communication, boys are actually seen as the harder sex here. Why?
According to Dr. Leonard Sax’s Six Degrees of Separation: What Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, “Girl’s hearing is more sensitive in frequency and thus they are actually able to hear much better than boys. Boys have 35 percent less hearing than girls due to the cochlea length in the ear.”.
In terms of communication, girls actually have the upper hand here too. Studies conducted by Dr Sax and Virginia Bonomo of the University of Pennsylvania indicate that girls develop their verbal skills at a much younger age.
In fact, girls will develop their language and fine motor skills around six years earlier than boys, according to Bonomo.
So my daughter can hear me. And she can understand me. She just chooses NOT to obey.
Time to Change Tactics?
However, I may be the one going about this all wrong. Boys and girls respond to things differently, which could be another reason why my son seemed to listen a lot better than my daughter – because I was using methods that worked with his personality.
According to a study conducted by Bonomo, girls respond better to softer voices and descriptive phrases while boys tend to respond better to loud, sharp, short tones and repetitive noises.
So, Ms B., are you suggesting that screaming ‘NO’ at the top of my lungs while my daughter holds my phone over the toilet bowl is not working to discipline my daughter? Perhaps, I should be changing my approach?
What worked with my first born – time outs, simple phrases and a stern voice – seems to be doing nothing for my daughter. When I tell her “time out”, she looks me straight in the eye and says, “No”. When I tell her to eat her dinner, she looks me straight in the eye and says, “No”. In fact, I could probably ask her to do anything and she would reply with “No” just to get a reaction out of me.
Perhaps, this is why she seems harder to raise – because I am using the wrong tactics.
Perhaps, I need to take a step back and use my daughter’s frustrating quirks, her condescending nature, her “me me me” attitude to my advantage.
Perhaps, it’s time to stop seeing my daughter as more difficult than my son and instead see her as different.
Perhaps, it’s time for me to put two and two together and see the truth.
That I am raising a Mini Me.
God, help me.