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  1. #1

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Playing 'Boy' Games Helps Girls, and Vice Versa
    Fri Sep 24, 2004
    By Alison McCook

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Ten-year olds who spend more time engaging in activities typically associated with their gender tend to have more stereotypical academic interests, skills and characteristics two years later, new research reports.

    For instance, girls who logged many hours on "girl" activities like reading, knitting, dancing or playing with dolls tended to get better grades in English, show more signs of sensitivity, and were more likely to have low self-esteem, which is more common in girls, the Pennsylvania-based researchers noted.

    However, girls who spent more time on sports -- a traditionally masculine pursuit -- tended to become more interested in math two years later, regardless of their interest in math at age 10.

    Likewise, boys who spent more time playing music -- a traditionally feminine activity -- got relatively good grades in math 2 years later.

    These findings show that what children spend time on at age 10 can have a strong influence on their later years, lead author Dr. Susan M. McHale of Penn State University in University Park told Reuters Health.

    "The patterns that are established in elementary school seem to really matter," she said.

    McHale added that adopting many traditional gender roles and interests can "foreclose possibilities" for kids. Therefore, parents may want to encourage their children to pursue activities not typically associated with their sex to expand their horizons.

    McHale and her colleagues interviewed 200 first-born 10-year old girls and boys and their families, and then contacted the children by phone seven times to ask them how much time they spent on different activities that day.

    Two years later, the researchers re-contacted the children and asked them about their grades, interests and other characteristics.

    The findings appear in the journal Developmental Psychology.

    Although predilections largely predicted skills, characteristics and interests 2 years later, McHale said, for boys, the relationship was somewhat more complex.

    For instance, she noted that boys who spent more time with other boys tended to become more sensitive over time. In contrast, girls who spent more time with girls tended to become less sensitive.

    McHale explained that when boys play together, they often play games in large groups, which involves teamwork and following complex rules. Girls, however, tend to play in smaller groups, and largely spend their time talking, she noted.

    These findings suggest that girls "may not have to practice the skills that boys have to practice" when playing sports, causing girls to lose some of their sensitivity over time, she said.

    McHale suggested that parents may want to encourage their daughters to spend time with boys, and teach them about being sensitive to others.

    SOURCE: Developmental Psychology, September 2004.

  2. #2

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Therefore, parents may want to encourage their children to pursue activities not typically associated with their sex to expand their horizons
    .

    we did do that, even from when they were young... e.g. buying our 2 -3 yr old son a doll, when we were expecting his sister... but he really wasn't very interested... he just loved playing with his toy cars etc..
    Later on, developed a huge interest in (English) football, which he still has. (Even though my husband was not interested in it... now we both are because of our son).
    His sister, being younger, wanting to live up to, and join in with him and his friends, developed a liking for playing football, which she does, and plays with the boys (my brother and his friends) in our garden... (but I suspect this might now have a lot to do with one of my son's 14 yr old friends :D) But she was in the girls football team in her last school, and good at it.
    She has more or less abandoned dolls, (she is 12 in December) but has been very attached to them and is quite sensitive.
    Although my son is sensitive and unusually gentle, too... with younger children (not very often his sister though ha ha )
    But they are both very very 'stereotypically' male and female... as myself and my husband are... and yet I do think I have quite a good male/female balance in personality, and my husband 'can' be very gentle and sensitive, but mostly, very loud and male ha ha!

  3. #3

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Quote Originally Posted by sammy
    husband 'can' be very gentle and sensitive, but mostly, very loud and male ha ha!
    I heard that! ;o)

    I do think there are strong sociocultural differences in even very young children and possibly or maybe even probably some physiological/psychological differences in male vs. female brains. I remember years ago when Cabbaga Patch dolls were the rage and my daughter and her two younger brothers all wanted them for Christmas -- Christmas day, she made a little bed, dressed it, combed its hair, etc. -- the boys took off the heads to see what was inside.

    But encouraging children "to pursue activities not typically associated with their sex to expand their horizons" does not necessarily mean encouraging boys to pursue "girls' activities" or vice versa. I think it's more about helping both boys and girls to develop independent thinking, to help them learn to resist peer and media pressure, to think "outside the box" (to use that annoying modern cliche), and to encourage them in whatever interests they develop instead of following the crowd into those stereotypical "gender-appropriate" activites.

  4. #4

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter
    Quote Originally Posted by sammy
    husband 'can' be very gentle and sensitive, but mostly, very loud and male ha ha!
    I heard that! ;o)
    would you believe we are in the middle of one of those 'times' now? :(

    and I have just had to ask him to apologise to his (our) son for something horrible he said to him (I'm very upset actually)
    (It's hard when you ''see'' history repeating itself..)
    what my husband told me, in our early years of marriage, is now being played out with our firstborn. (My husband was the eldest of 3...their mother abandoned the family when he was 7, .. his father used to tell him he was stupid, and physically threaten him, .. his father was a violent alcoholic)
    (My husband was a severe alcoholic, till he became a Christian in '85)
    (Now he's just a 'tea-oholic' :D)

    I just don't know whether to be one step ahead to try to prevent trouble, like I've been for years now...
    But I'm trying to practise 'hands off'- not feeling that I have to be 'in control' 'taking responsibility' for 'everyone's' happiness...
    It, obviously, is a major cause of stress in my life...
    But I also thought it might help my husand to 'rise up'and be 'strong.'

    But if I back off, there is a void, a vacuum, and they end up screaming at each other :(

  5. #5

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter
    I remember years ago when Cabbaga Patch dolls were the rage and my daughter and her two younger brothers all wanted them for Christmas -- Christmas day, she made a little bed, dressed it, combed its hair, etc. -- the boys took off the heads to see what was inside.
    I'm sorry- that made me laugh (which was helpful now)

    I guess some things will be what they will be :)

    But encouraging children "to pursue activities not typically associated with their sex to expand their horizons" does not necessarily mean encouraging boys to pursue "girls' activities" or vice versa. I think it's more about helping both boys and girls to develop independent thinking, to help them learn to resist peer and media pressure, to think "outside the box" (to use that annoying modern cliche), and to encourage them in whatever interests they develop instead of following the crowd into those stereotypical "gender-appropriate" activites.
    Thank you!! that is very helpful... I am a very 'out of the box' thinking person, which is why I don't tend to fit in anywhere...
    it's not rebelliousness' I've grown out of that, but it still hurts, as I do still keep trying...
    But if my kids need that, to have integrity, I will give them that...
    Being real is so important...

  6. #6

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Quote Originally Posted by sammy
    But if I back off, there is a void, a vacuum, and they end up screaming at each other
    Being in the middle, or even on the sideline, of conflict between family members is never anything but highly stressful... you just want to sit everyone in the corner and say, "okay! nobody comes out until you can just be NICE!".

    On the other hand, I wish I could back off and have somebody vaccum... that would almost make it all worth it! ;o)

  7. #7

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Quote Originally Posted by sammy
    if my kids need that, to have integrity, I will give them that...
    Being real is so important...
    Yes... that's exactly how I see it...

  8. #8

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    It's so hard David...if they were all adults...I would just ('happily') back off, and say, 'oh go **** yourself, and live with the consequences'... but it's a beautiful 11 and 14 yr old, who are having to grow up quickly- and it's killing me...

    I can't split from their dad (who I have learned to love again- he has grown and is very sacrificial), and they love him so much, and he is (usually) a wonderful father...
    but when he's not, it's awful

  9. #9

    Playing 'boy' games helps girls, and vice versa

    Yes, I do understand, Sammy. I've seen it myself first hand in the past (thankfully no longer) and I know it can be difficult...

    I also know that one "good" parent can protect a child from the negative effects of the "bad" parent -- and I don't mean that to disparage your husband in any way but just to point out that whatever messages the children receive from you can and do offset any negative messages they receive from him.

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