Boys, no? They are like that only!

Thanks Blogadda and IHM for the Spicy Pick!

There is this lady who I know. A nice lady, but she has one habit(should I call it a habit, well, whatever), that drives me a little crazy. The title of this post is one of her favourite sentences.

She is a mother of a 1.5 year old, and she keeps talking of how boys are wild, and how boys cannot be disciplined, and how it is muuuuch easier to bring up girls. I wonder on what authority she speaks, given the fact that she does not have one of each.

All this is also tempered with references to how her son is the favourite of his grandparents’ because he is their only son’s only son! That is a another story for another day.

Her husband is no better. He once told us that our daughters(another friend with a daughter was present as well), eat food outside , without any problems – because they are girls, apparently boys do not do that either!

Everything is blamed on the child being a boy. If he refuses to sit in his stroller, which by the way, there are plenty of other reasons for, it is because he is a boy – and more ‘active’!

If the child refuses to share, he is a boy after all, and he has a ‘temper’ if he is forced to do it.

Their attitudeย  makes me wonder how that child will turn up in a few years time. Right now, he is an adorable little thing, doing stuff which every child his age does – irrespective of gender. One time, he was playing with something, and his mother tried to take it away – and he showed his annoyance at that. I have seen loads of little children doing the same, but in this case, the parents proudly say, ‘My son has a temper!’. They actually sound proud of the fact. It is another thing that he had no temper – it was just the way most children that age would react. Even if a child does behave in an ill-tempered way, at that age(he was 8 or 9 months old), I would just ignore it, and in an older child, would probably explain to the child, that it is rude, rather than proudly gloat over it.

Another parent tells her 4 yr old, that he should not be hitting girls because they are ‘cry-babies’. So it is perfectly fine to hit or bully other children- just not girls, and that too because girls are cry babies! What are we teaching our children? And these are all educated parents. Clearly education has no chance in front of the age old discrimination between girls and boys. And not only do the believe in it, they are ensuring that their little children grow up with ideas like this in their heads. I can’t help wonder how this boy is going to react when grows up and has to work with women or even worse, report to a woman at work?

Every time I see the way some parents handle their children, it just makes me understand why so many little boys are badly behaved – they are just not taught that it is wrong to behave that way. Even when parents do scold them, it is with an indulgent smile saying, ‘how else can you expect boys to behave?’ So as the child grows up, he learns the nuances. He is free to ignore the half-hearted admonishing, because of the tone accompanying it. I feel, that even a young child can understand the tone that we speak in. When we mean business and when we do not. If we are firm, and we show them that we are ready to carry through what we say, they will listen. Maybe , not the first time, but if they get a consistent message every time, it will just be a matter of time before a child(irrespective of gender), learns what is acceptable behaviour, and what is not.

On the other hand, girls, I feel are told to ‘behave’ from the time they are little. There is another family I know who refused to cut their 3 year old’s hair because apparently she needs to know how to have long hair – after all she is a girl. She was just a 3 year old! This was not even about misbehaviour – but acceptable standards for girls! Girls misbehaving is a no-no, but boys – what can we say, they just don’t listen!

If the girls are well behaved – then it is purely because they are girls – their parents’ parenting methods have nothing to do with it, of course! Girls come programmed with good behaviour!

Long back, before we had Poohi, we had been to an party with some of husband’s old colleagues. All the couples except one had girls. The lone boy was being called the ‘Kishan Kanhaiya’ of their group. This boy, I think around 2 years of age, was going around terrorizing(hitting, grabbing toys) all the other children, while his parents looked on, smiling. I was shocked, but nobody else seemed to find that odd. Later, as time passed, I would hear gossip about how naughty that child was. People started avoiding them because their children refused to play with him. His mother had a second child – a girl, and she turned out even naughtier- throwing all their theories of boys being naughtier than girls right out of the window. She surpassed her older brother in naughtiness. She would copy everything her brother did and more. Eventually, when this little boy went to school, he would return with complaints from her teachers every single day. His parents were at their wits end, when suddenly he changed – almost overnight, he became the most well behaved boy. My friend says that people could not believe that it was the same destructive, ill-mannered child! Apparently, when he learnt that good behaviour was rewarded at school, he picked it up. This boy just needed to be guided in the right direction. Clearly, his parents had sent him all the wrong signals, he was never told, properly, about acceptable behaviour. Isn’t it sad, that a child had to learn all this at school and not at home? If you ask me, the parents are doing their children a disservice by not teaching them how to behave. Which child would want to be unpopular at school? Do parents want their children to be avoided by others?

If I had a penny for every time I hear a parent gloatingly complain about their little boy.. Ever wonder why we never hear a parent of a girl gloating about how she refuses to listen? Because I have seen badly behaved girls as well – but have just not hear heard their parents being proud about it! And what of all those well mannered boys? Are we saying that they are not boyish enough if they listen to their parents or do not go about beating people or are taught to share and play well with other children? And there are plenty of beautifully behaved boys!

While I do understand and appreciate that there are some differences in the way girls and boys behave. My little one, with no prompting from me, goes straight to the jewellery section, if she manages to catch sight of it. She loves pink, and is princess-crazy – despite my best efforts. At the same time, she recognizes the make of cars, she loves playing with trains on train track, loves to pretend at being Bob the Builder. I do think all this is a combination of environment, genes and natural aptitude.

There are boisterous boys and girls, just as there are quiet and calm, boys and girls. Why can’t we take each child as he/she is, and not as a sub sect of their gender? Yes, for sure, there are gender differences, but I do think gender has nothing to do with wild behaviour or misbehaviour. Badly behaved children or children who refuse to listen, are the way they are because of their parent’s parenting methods.ย  Can we please stop blaming the gender of the child for their (bad)behaviour?

65 thoughts on “Boys, no? They are like that only!

  1. Yes Mam point taken … as you say I do hereby solemly swear that i will stop blaming the gender of the child for their bad behaviour..

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for that ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so grateful ๐Ÿ™‚


    and i am firsttt too I think ๐Ÿ™‚ he hehe

    Congratulations, Bikram!

    nice post i do agree with you in all the points ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks Bikram – you agree? I was hoping for some debate ๐Ÿ™‚

    • a debate me with all the lady readers you have i dare not start a debate.. he he he heeh

      But seriously i dont think these days it matter about the gender especially here in uk, i have seen the boys and girls get up to same stupid , silly things ..

      so other than a girl is a girl and a boy is a boy not much they do different..

  2. you’r right…there is nothing to do with gender when it comes to behaviour and mannerisms…specially when we are talking about children here !

    Poor parents..yeah poor why because they don’t know what they’re calling for in future by raising their ‘boys’ in such a manner…and poor little baby boys…I hope all the boys like these pick up good habits at least at school like the other one did there !

    I think some children do pick up from school – but others continue to be the same..

  3. I used to have a lot of theories about boys, esp gender-neutral ideas, and have had to throw some of those out the window…but I fully agree with you that it’s all in the parenting, especially for controlling aggression and bad manners.

    ‘especially for controlling aggression and bad manners’ – You know Starry, a lot of people actually behave as if agression in boys is a good thing. I know people who have taught their child(son) to hit others because tomorrow, if somebody hits him, he should hit back. And I find that downright weird, more so because the child in question was a 1 yr old then. A lot of people do not consider aggression in boys a bad thing at all – if at all, they consider it part of the ‘maleness’!

    Boys, for the most part do have more energy, and whether they’re wired differently etc, I dunno, I think a good deal of it is very subtle social conditioning. So even tho’ I’m struggling for gender-neutral parenting, it dismays me to see the societal attitudes, we have to struggle against, from admonitions to not cry, to jokes about his pink sandals, to snickers when he plays with his kitchen set.

    I do agree that boys do seem to have more energy, whether they are wired differently or due to subtle social conditioning, neither of us can say for sure. But I wish a boy could be what he wants to be without people raising their eyebrows on his choice of toys. Funnily, it is far more acceptable for a girl to play with boys stuff. One of my friends gifted a friend’s son a baby – a blue boy baby, because that was the only toy which he did not seem to own. Apparently, the mother of the boy was scandalized ๐Ÿ™‚

    There are parents around me too whom I’d like to bop over the head when they beam proudly while their lil’ monster is whacking every child in sight. Bah!

    Absolutely! I tell the child off, if they happen to whack my child or any other child on my watch – especially if the parent just looks on proudly. I think that sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable.

    • Agree…people have presented my daughter guns and remote control cars…but not even one person (except for one wise friend) gave him a doll (he has got soft toys as gifts, tho’) or a kitchen set or something like bead-jewellery-making or art stuff.

      But you know last week I had to tell off two girls who were really aggressively pushing my son and another boy around, they were the police and the boys were the robbers ๐Ÿ™„ . The mothers were looking on proudly and saying “haha, the girls get to control the boys’…and believe me, one was being very rough, and I spoke gently with my son, he admitted he liked it, ‘but not that much’…and ultimately, when he and his friend pushed back, the girls wailed and went to their mummies. At that point I told them all off! Pushing and shoving is not acceptable, esp if the kid doesn’t like it, boy or girl.

  4. SUch a well written post! ๐Ÿ˜€
    I was nodding my way through till the end and also caught myself.. since as a mother of girl.. when I get compliments oh she is such an angel. I tend to gush, redden and say.. Its a bit easier with girls I think.

    There is that assumption that it is easier with girls – but I have actually seen extremely badly behaved girls as well. I do think it is down to parenting techniques. Girls might be calmer than boys – again it is not a blanket statement, but I think bad behaviour is not gender specific, but more a result of how we(as a parent and society) treat boys and girls.

    But I completely am with you on that… bad behavior is gender neutral!

  5. What a fantastic post, Smitha. I have so much to say, but I will have to do that another day, as its way past my bedtime ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You go and sleep and come back tomorrow and tell me what you have to say ๐Ÿ™‚ Will wait for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    ‘how else can you expect boys to behave’ is a ridiculous excuse, btw, but I feel for such parents who pretend that their kids are hyperactive because of the gender and thereby try to brush off any awkward questions that they might have to answer from other parents!!!

    Some people!

  6. Ha, you just have to visit my home to throw the stereo types out of the window! My first born is a boy and he was so mild and good mannered. Well, the second one- a girl – is another story altogether and my siblings happily supported by the other half says she takes after me ๐Ÿ™‚

    LOL! My husband says daughter is just like apart from her girlie likings ๐Ÿ™‚

    But seriously, it is mostly in how you bring them up. Stereotypes are just that and if you feed your kid’s mind, with that, how could you blame them for misbehaving?

    Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more.

    I have once taken on a wild and ill mannered girl who was throwing sand into everyone’s food at a party. And the mother came and snatched the girl away and the looks that she gave me almost killed me. After a few years, I am sure the same mother can be heard lamenting how her daughter does not listen to her, how wild she is and so on.

    That is even worse, when parents behave that you are to blame, if their child misbehaves, and we are forced to stop them? I just cannot understand that! The normal excuse is, children are children – what is the big deal if they misbehave?

    What you conveyed in the post is something even I feel very strongly about.

    This is something I feel quite strongly about. I cannot understand the logic of not teaching children discipline and manners, and acceptable behaviour.

    • Girlie likings – even I am amazed at times how different my daughter is from me. I get along even without combing my hair if I can. And the little lady who is all of three and a half tells me one day that I am not beautiful because I don’t wear lipstick, huh!

  7. A thoughtful post from you after a long time Smitha ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Loved it..

    I know – I have been writing on rather frivolous topics these days ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    I never seen many kids in my life which makes me very much illiterate on this topic ๐Ÿ˜ฆ In my home its all about well behaving… Also I didn’t seen any parent gloating about their sons temper and naughtiness.. maybe I am not looking around keenly ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Not every parent is like this – but I seem to be running into them quite a lot these days. There are some fantastic parents bringing up kids really, really well!

    But I know there are few people who exists like this..
    Yes, there are some like this.

    • Kanagu, these days the number is rising alarmingly. It is like parents are bringing up their children with a vengeance allowing them to do whatever they couldn’t when they were kids. Sadly they just don’t relaize the harm that they are doing to their own kids.

  8. I wish parents would realize that boys are not Neanderthals and that their energy and aggression can be channelized into more constructive things…But unfortunately, many still believe that aggressive men are studs while aggressive (opinionated) women are ‘bitches’…

    ‘But unfortunately, many still believe that aggressive men are studs while aggressive (opinionated) women are ‘bitches’…’ – Absolutely! And they seem to think that as perfectly natural. Infact I feel their children turn out like this because the parents expect it out of them. If a child is told from the time he is a few months old that he has a ‘temper’, I am quite certain that he will develop a ‘temper’, as he grows up.

  9. excuses for bad parenting ?

    Absolutely! And I think they actually believe that boys will behave like that. I know people who say this every time their child does something unacceptable.

  10. Silly people, really. I have seen parents of both gender talk like this. My grand niece is toooo naughty. If I knew beforehand that she was coming, I always keep things away from her eyes. She loves to break things.

    I know! We all know children like this, don’t we? Irrespective of gender!

    My sons were never like that…were they behaving like girls then?!

    Your sons, I am sure, must have been normal, well behaved children! Reading your posts, I think you are one amazing mother(and person) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Interesting analysis!

    • I don’t know, Smitha! I will know only after they get married and handle their family, esp. the wife. I just hope they respect their women and pray to god that they should get reasonably good wives. Life is just adjustment on both sides, I keep telling them. Anyway, thank you, Smitha!

  11. My friend says (with a proud smile) that his 3 yr old son has turned his mother into a boxing pad. I shuddered. ๐Ÿ˜

    Oh this is so common! People are actually proud of it! They see nothing wrong with it!

    Lovely post Smitha. I am not a parent and I have no clue on the P of parenting but I still agree with all you said on mere common sense! ๐Ÿ™‚

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Exactly – common sense – but not so common after, all, I guess ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. guys with due respect, you have all got it wrong !
    trust me boys have a temper and it is much more difficult to manage them. i do stand by the fact that boys are naughtier than girs

    I think both boys and girls could have a temper. Don’t we all know men and women with bad tempers? I do not think ‘temper’ is exclusive to boys or men. I do think that it is more acceptable for boys to have a temper, given the social conditioning. So a boy behaving aggressively is encouraged, while a girl behaving aggressively is actively discouraged.

    get your facts right please.
    mother of boys

    • I hv seen many girls having a real bad temper! I do agree there is some diff. b/w boys and girls [which makes each of them special in their own way and not more/less important;)] but I dnt think temper and behaviour needs to be stereotyped!

    • I wish you would get your facts right, this is not to disregard your experiences but just to broaden your horizon.
      As neuroscientist Lise Eliot (2010) points out, there are three small early sex differences that appear to be biological, meaning they are promoted by either prenatal hormone exposure or sex-specific gene expression. These are the fact that baby boys are a bit more physically active than baby girls, toddler girls tend to talk a bit earlier than boys, and boys appear more spatially aware. But Eliot points out that these are very incremental differences for the most part, and the large differences that emerge, as children get older seem to be driven by nurture rather than nature. In fact, neuroscience has identified very few real differences between the way that girl and boy brains function. She says, โ€œOur actual ability differences are quite smallโ€ฆthere is more overlap in the academic andโ€ฆsocial-emotional abilities of the genders than there are differencesโ€

      The point being that a, “childโ€™s ability and interests develop in a context. This context provides the child with guidance and feedback about what behaviors and interests are appropriate for them, individually and in reference to their gender. The ways and amount that parents talk to their child, the toys and activities that they are exposed to, the media messages, peer groups, and communities of which the child is a part, all of these influence the things that a child learns about what it means to be a boy or a girl.”

      Another thing that I would like to point out is no matter what the sex of the child is, individual differences exist. There are as many calm boys and girls as there are highly active and mischievous boys and girls, each with varying degree of these traits.

      Also I’d like to second smitha here when she says that “I do not think โ€˜temperโ€™ is exclusive to boys or men. I do think that it is more acceptable for boys to have a temper, given the social conditioning. So a boy behaving aggressively is encouraged, while a girl behaving aggressively is actively discouraged.”

  13. Very well written post… Even I have seen people who excuse their sons for all their arrogance and misconduct saying that ‘What to do, after all they are boys’ while its irritating to see the same parents raising their eyebrows even if their daughter raises her voice for something…. After all she is a girl so she has to be good by default… God knows when will people learn to raise above this sill gender issue and learn to see each person as an individual rather than a girl or a boy…

  14. Agree to every word of this post!!! I am fed up with parents at public places, trains, shopping malls with unruly kids and only one single explanation – “bachhe hai” and unsuprisingly most of the kids are boys ..not because boys tend to be more active n all that but for the simple reason..many Indian parents tend to spoil and indulge the boy child more and blame the bad behavior on his hormone and gender!

    I have seen that too. In general, Indian children and Indian boys in particular, seem to be far more badly behaved – even here. I think it stems from the concept that boys are difficult to handle, they won’t listen, and boys will be boys, so there is no point in disciplining them. Because I have seen beautifully behaved boys from across the globe, and if they can, why can’t some?

  15. Very well said…unfortunately there’s just too many people who dont deserve to become parents but end up becoming one either due to contraception failure, stupidity, or bad luck.

    Or become parents just because that is what is expected of them. Capability is the last thing on most people’s mind!

    And i think the bad parenting is showing in how our youth is shaping up today.

    I guess, that is true.

  16. At first, I thought this was going to be an anti-boy post !! I was getting ready with my ammunition and realised its a post out of ‘pain’ and frustration ! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    Oh dear! Did I disappoint you? So sorry – next post – I will try to give a place to deploy your ammunition ๐Ÿ™‚

    I know, some parents could be really irritating !! There are a few who finds pride when their boy destroys something at their friends place ! Some even love it when their kid swears ! Crazy isnt it ?

    I know! I know somebody who taught her child to swear! What can one say to that?

    The difference between boys and girls, according to me, starts only in their teenage. Until then, they are the same – sometimes cute, sometimes dumb, sometimes irritating ! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    btw, I wonder how my parents were considering the fact that I turned out so well ! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    I think you parents did a wonderful job ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Couldnt agree with you more, Smits. Gender has nothing to do with how a child should or should not behave. I hate it when I see such stereotyping. I’ve always believed that a child’s behaviour is a reflection of how he/she is being brought up the parents. A child behaves in a certain way because the parents encourage them to do so.

    ‘A child behaves in a certain way because the parents encourage them to do so.’ – Absolutely!

    I’ve seen parents gleaming with pride when their kids run around the house breaking up things, making a ruckus, calling out names, making all kinds nasty faces at their parents. And such a behaviour is not restricted to their own house mind you, they are as boisterous when they are visiting their friends. And the parents just let them be because ‘they are boys’ or just simply say,’ bache hai is umar mei shaitani nahi karenge toh kab karenge?’ Rubbish! I’m not against being naughty, all kids are. But when that naughtiness causes discomfort or displeasure to others then the parents seriously need to change their strategy of handling their children.

    Absolutely! Naughtiness is perfectly acceptable – but as you say ‘naughtiness causes discomfort or displeasure to others then the parents seriously need to change their strategy of handling their children.’ – Well said, Deeps!

    You know, R & I have strict rules for Namnam on how to behave in front of people and we make sure in our own way that she abides by themshe either has to forego her favourite ice-creams or skipping a playdate , you know things like that and trust me it does have the desired effect.

    I am sure they do! Because she knows that certain things are totally unacceptable- because you have clearly defined boundaries! If only every parent did that!

    I believe, as parents, we have to draw certain boundaries to ensure our children grow up well-mannered. Its entirely in our hands, isnt it?

    Absolutely, Deeps! You said it so well!

  18. You’ve no idea how much that statement irks me Smits. After reading the comments here, I guess I had nothing unusual or different to say.

    But then I saw a comment from some ‘Boys mom’ who actually believes boys are unmanageable and have a bigger temper than girls. It really saddened me.

    I know ๐Ÿ˜ฆ People like this do exist, sadly.

    I would never blame such boys for embracing chauvinism – they are after all, a product of the parenting they received.

    ‘they are after all, a product of the parenting they received. ‘ – So true!

    Thankfully, it is also heartening to see the number of people who agree with you. Especially mothers of sons. So maybe our society still has hope.

    Absolutely! It is heartening to see that so many mothers of sons think like this ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Great post and I agree with everything. Some parents fail to see how unhappy and lonely a spoiled child becomes. Teaching children about acceptable behaviour, sharing, taking turns and not-hitting has little to do with a child’s energy. Being energetic and active and being wild, aggressive, violent and badly behaved are two different things.

    Being energetic and active and being wild, aggressive, violent and badly behaved are two different things. – I couldn’t agree more!

  20. Yes, for sure, there are gender differences, but I do think gender has nothing to do with wild behaviour or misbehaviour. – Very well said Smithu ๐Ÿ™‚ Cud nt agree more ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Conditioning, always the same old conditioning. I think prospective parents need to be seriously counseled about handling children. Parents teach their children what they know and believe ; what on earth is going to happen to the child if their parent’s view is skewed to hell ?

  22. Absolutely loved this post. Gender is a sad excuse for tantrumy , bratty kids. As a Mom to a teenaged girl, I keep hearing how easy it is bring up girls and how hyperactive boys can get.

    It is the regressive attitude of such parents that reinforce gender stereotypes.

    ‘Gender is a sad excuse for tantrumy , bratty kids’ – I know, I hate that excuse too!

  23. Agree to everything u’ve said, Smithu. Its all abt upbringing and its got nothing to do with gender. Its we who create such gender biases, in the minds of young kids and what do they grow up to be – a person who disrespects their spouse !!! Arent we sowing the seeds to such bad behavior, which happens much later ???

    ‘Arent we sowing the seeds to such bad behavior, which happens much later ???’ We sure are, Uma!

    There are many ppl in our family, who complain to me that their girls dont listen to them at all and how did I manage to make my girls listen to me !!! I reason with them that its not the girls listen to me always, but certain rules laid in their young age, for maintaining discipline is there to follow forever. There is no teaching now…it happened when they were young.

    ‘certain rules laid in their young age, for maintaining discipline is there to follow forever. ‘ – This is the key. We have to lay down the rules, which would be the foundation.

    Now, we 3 girls have said NO to fizz drinks. It was a joint decision and we’ll follow it through anything and everything. Two days back, my younger one went to MacD with her friends and came back home, sticking to her promise of not drinking fizz drinks. I dont force it….but I’ve taught her to value promises and secondly, I taught how damaging are fizz drinks to our health.

    Its all in the attitude we show towards things and the way we insist that some good things need to be followed in life.

    Absolutely! And this works – irrespective of whether it is a boy or girl.

  24. Children watch and learn. They also learn with encouragement. Parents who either keep quiet or watch helplessly have aggressive kids When parents do not discipline a temper tantrum boy, the cue that he receives is encouragement. when a child hears his parent saying “ye to aisa he hai” is a signal for positive behavior.

    Welcome here, Neera. Do leave your blog url, if you blog as well.
    Absolutely! I can’t agree more.

    Such parents who gloat over boys aggressive behavior raise boys who continue to grow up that way and thinks this behavior is acceptable. I have seen most parents discipline their girls more than the boys, (especially if they have only girls or only boys ) because they are all worried that they won’t look after us.

    I don’t quite understand this ‘they wont look after us’ funda, you know.. Are we bringing up children with just this selfish aim ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    The guilt associated with mama’s boy is in some way related to all this.
    Parent: I won’t punish you today and in return you will listen to what ever I say tomorrow and there after and take care of me.

    Son: Yes, mama. . You didn’t punish me. What ever you say.

    I am sure that happens as well!

    It goes both ways. That’s where parents emotionally blackmail their son. The guilt ridden son passes on the salt and pepper to their mom without giving it to the wife.

    You are spot on!

    The buck starts long ago and ends with the death of one. And this behavior continues ? May be until a parent comes along and stops such behavior. The oedipus complex is there in everyone, only the degree differs.

    Somebody has to break the cycle. Hopefully, someone sensible will.

  25. That was a heartfelt post making wonderful points.

    I agree with Reema about parents excusing bad behaviour by saying ‘bachche hain’. But I would like to make a point here: just as parents of boys condone aggressive and bratty behaviour excusing them for ‘being boys’ there is a disturbing reverse trend I have been observing — parents of bratty girls smile indulgently and say ‘girls are proving that they are as good (sic) as boys.’ As if bad or unacceptable behaviour is what gender equality is all about. More disturbing, the comparison is taken into teenage and even adulthood with the result that young girls and women think that it is expected of them to behave aggressively and disagreeably to be considered on par with boys/men.

    That is just as bad. As I said, bad behaviour is bad behaviour. It does not get justified based on who is doing it. Girls and boys need to be taught about acceptable behaviour – period. Parents who donot draw these boundaries, are just making it tougher for their children, some time down the line, don’t you think?

  26. hey i can’t say much about who’s more active or not … having no kids of my own yet … but this:

    “A recent Harvard University study states that, “By school age, the average boy in a classroom is more active than the girls โ€” even the most active girls don’t seem to express their energy in the unrestrained way characteristic of most boys.” While these findings support a stereotype some in our society have worked to eradicate, ask a kindergarten teacher and you’ll likely hear that this description is true. “I’ve been teaching young boys for over 25 years and I don’t see that their activity levels have changed, but our expectations for how long they have to sit still have dramatically increased,” says teacher Jane Katch, author of Under Deadman’s Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children’s Violent Play. “And that’s a problem for a lot of boys. Some boys in my class need to move a lot. I call them ‘high energy boys.’ These boys simply can’t sit still as long as most of the girls. They don’t have the fine motor skills girls do, so many will make big constructions like block towers, while girls will work on smaller, more delicate pictures.”

    I remember my brother being FAR more active than my sister … but yes, that shouldn’t be used as an excuse for unacceptable bad behavior.

    That was fascinating, Roop. And as you say, activity levels, should certainly not be an excuse for unacceptable/bad behaviour. Higher activity levels, simply means that we, as parents need to channel it better. And I have seen some wonderfully behaved boys(as well as really badly behaved girls). I really think that bad behaviour is down to bad parenting.

  27. Mother of boys no? they’l be like that only!


    Seriously … a boy (read hurrcane) running around will be cooed as active – after al ladka hai na

    I know! I find that so annoying!

    A quiet biy is respectful – after all he knows his manners na?

    Girls – aah well if docile they are scary poos and if hyper they are haath se phisla hua!

    I wish I knew who drafted his character hand book!!!

    This character handbook is to be blamed for all those men who think that they are god’s gift to mankind, and so many women with self worth issues ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  28. Lovely post Smitha…
    nd since I have both, a girl and a boy, even I have to admit that there are gender differences like the one you pointed out… love for pink, barbie dolls/cartoons etc in contrast to cars and action/horror movies. but then not all fall under these category too..
    but good behaviour has nothing to do with gender and it is all in the upbringing.. but then sometimes I do wonder if boys who have been brought up
    to be gentle and courteous will get a rough treatment from the world ๐Ÿ™‚

    ‘I do wonder if boys who have been brought up to be gentle and courteous will get a rough treatment from the world’ – If that is true, both girls and boys will be equally impacted, don’t you think? I think it is important to teach children to stand up for themselves, and stand up for what is right. But that is not the same as aggressive and wild behaviour – don’t you think?

    • Hey Happy Kitten,
      I know I am very late to this whole conversation But It wouldnโ€™t hurt to comment. If somebody else or you read it, it will only be an added bonus.
      โ€œI have both, a girl and a boy, even I have to admit that there are gender differences like the one you pointed outโ€ฆ love for pink, barbie dolls/cartoons etc in contrast to cars and action/horror movies. But then not all fall under these category too..โ€
      Itโ€™s nice that your are so receptive and accommodating of the differences that two of your children seem to have, However let me point out that their preferences are just that gender differences and not biologically derived differences.
      A lot of people base their argument that โ€œGirls and boys are biologically different and have different inborn preferencesโ€ based on personal observation. They forget that children donโ€™t operate in social vaccum. There are very clear lines drawn in advertisements directed to children between what toys are โ€œforโ€ boys or girls. Research has found that television commercials for children overwhelmingly present gender stereotypes, with pastel colors, cooperation, and indoor play associated primarily with girls and competition and outdoor play associated with boys (Kahlenberg & Hein, 2010).The point being that packed into these advertisements are consistent messages about behaviors, interests, and activities that are appropriate for girls and boys and Children are internalizing these stereotypes and the message that certain products, interests, and activities are gender specific.
      A study by Hassetta, Siebert and Wallena (2008) show that children demonstrate the same sex differences in toy preference as do monkeys. Yes sex differences seem to exist. Sex differences in toy preferences in children are marked, with boys expressing stronger and more rigid toy preferences than girls, whose preferences are more ๏ฌ‚exible. Some have suggested that a greater preference for gendered toys in boys re๏ฌ‚ects a greater rejection of opposite-sex behavior in boys than in girls (Bussey and Perry, 1982). Girls on the other hand are less rigid than boys in their gender-typed beliefs, behaviors, and preferences, including toy preferences (Ruble et al., 2006).
      Hassetta, Siebert and Wallena compared the interactions of 34 rhesus monkeys, living within a 135 monkey troop, with human wheeled toys and plush toys. Male monkeys, like boys, showed consistent and strong preferences for wheeled toys, while female monkeys, like girls, showed greater variability in preferences. Thus, the magnitude of preference for wheeled over plush toys differed signi๏ฌcantly between males and females.
      So does this mean that boys do not prefer plush toys ever? Wrong. Many do. The experiment was done on monkeys not humans. While demonstration that such nonhuman animals show preferences for toys similar to those seen in children would not eliminate the possibility that children’s toy preferences are primarily socialized, it would lend support to the notion that preferences for speci๏ฌc play objects may re๏ฌ‚ect underlying preferences for speci๏ฌc activities.
      These researchers offered the hypothesis that toy preferences re๏ฌ‚ect hormonally in๏ฌ‚uenced behavioral and cognitive biases which are sculpted by social processes into the sex differences seen in monkeys and humans.
      It is important to understand that when children are exposed to high levels of gender salience, meaning clear demarcations of being in one group as opposed to another, they tend to demonstrate increased gender stereotypes, have less positive feelings about opposite-sex peers, and not play with them as much (Hilliard & Liben, 2010). So, when advertisers consistently depict their product being played with mostly by only one gender, children of the opposite gender will not see that toy as accessible to them. When children are consistently exposed to the idea that girls and boys are very different and should play separately, they will begin to function that way in the real world, preferring to only play with children of their same sex. When commercials show toys being manipulated by only one gender, children are likely to identify that toy as โ€œforโ€ the gender of the child shown in the commercial.
      Research has shown, when both boys and girls are depicted as playing with the same toy in a commercial, children are more likely to later identify that toy as being โ€œfor boys and girlsโ€ (Pike & Jennings, 2005).
      Plus many parents themselves foist those gender stereotypes on their children. I had a friend who wasnโ€™t allowed to play with me every time I took out my hot wheels collection. I have also observed some parents worrying when their sons play with kitchen set or soft toys. Some go as far as to dissuade their sons from playing with these toys. Also I remember how when I declared my love for bay blade among my friends, some of my girlfriends laughed at me and went on to say that I was becoming a boy. Similarly my childhood best friend, a boy was ostracized for loving his teddy bear and not being as much interested in playing with balls as other boys. So peer pressure, no matter what the age also affects our choices. Our peers also get those stereotyped messages, internalize them and every time they see someone among them flouting those rules they make fun of those kids.
      Okay so long story short, kids develop their identities based on what they know about who they are not just from an individual perspective, but what it means in the context in which they live to be a person of a particular race, gender, social class, region, mental health status, and so forth. These are called identity contingencies. Hence socialization plays a very important role. Even though the parents may support unorthodox ideas, peer pressure, media messages and stereotypes sometimes override the messages given by the parents. There is nothing wrong in liking a certain color, or playing with a certain toy. Children of both sexes should be provided with wide range of toys, and it is important that they should see it as socially accessible to them. And we shouldnโ€™t make generalizations.

  29. Oh Smi, i have so much to say here… for one, when you say ‘While I do understand and appreciate that there are some differences in the way girls and boys behave.’ all I can say is I totally agree. The BB loves his cars, and cannot be with a stuffed toy for more than 5 mins, but I am sure there are also the exact opposite kind of boys there. Even the BB for that matter, he loves pink… in every damn thing, clothes, paints, toys, and everything else.

    GM – Missed you!!! Hugs!

    BB does not like stuffed toys – nor does Poohi – all the stuffed toys that she has, have been gifts – which are used to decorate her room, more than anything else ๐Ÿ™‚ BB likes pink – that is wonderful! I wish I could get Poohi to move away from that stereotypical pink ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    You know not, having a daughter myself, I always thought that it is easier to bring up daughters, and thought they are more ‘manageable’, and even mentioned to another one of the playgroup moms, who has a son the BB’s age, and to elder daughters. And she just gave me a smaile and said… ‘They are just different.’. And I think that is exactly what it is…. just different!

    I would go with that – they are different. And I feel as far as boundaries are established, and they are taught acceptable behaviour – both genders can be equally well behaved. Being active, and being aggressive are two totally different things, don’t you think?

    • yes, I completely agree…. but I also feel boys are hard coded with more aggression than girls… that’s how nature designed us, isn’t it, men need to be the protectors. Women on the other hand, have much greater emotional strength and flexibility. But I think its upto the parents completely how the kids manage that aggression. I think there is a basic animal instinct in each of us, where we will lash out, when things go against our wishes, with age, we understand how to manage n control that…..I have seen both boys and girls, who get aggressive, hit, push etc, and it is upto the parents to teach them whats acceptable and whats not.

      • ‘I think there is a basic animal instinct in each of us, where we will lash out, when things go against our wishes, with age, we understand how to manage n control that’ Spot on GM! Couldn’t agree more.

  30. oh well u know my opinion on this, I have ranted abt this multiple times on my blog. Why do we need gender stereotypes?

    A child is a child and sometimes they are agressive by nature and its our duty to keep it in control sometime they are too soft in nature and its our duty to teach them to balance it.

    It has nothing nothing nothing to do with being a boy or a girl

    good post smitha

  31. Excellent post, Smitha. And you’ve voiced exactly what I’ve felt numerous times over the years. I have a son and a daughter and as far as I’ve seen there are no set rules. My daughter is far more of a handful than my son. My son is a very careful child and I’ve never had to worry about him but not a day goes by without my daughter having scraped knees or scratches or cuts! She loves to play with her stuffed dolls but also enjoys playing with her brother’s mechano set. As for him, it’s only recently he gave up hugging his fav soft toy while sleeping!

    As for temper tantrums, those ain’t good for anyone! Male or female of whatever age. I feel if little boys are given a license to misbehave the grow up to be men who misbehave and then it won’t be so cute or funny, will it? Btw, did I tell you what a great post this is ? ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Spot-on! I wish more people would read your post and recognize this ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Down with gender stereotypes. Btw just wrote a post yesterday on the same topic over at my blog!

  33. Pingback: Best Blog Posts this week by Popular Indian Bloggers

  34. Congratulations on the spicy pick, smitsyyy! A well deserved one, dearie ๐Ÿ™‚ !!

    Not blogging much these days, so have missed reading quite a bit of your posts I think. Saw the blog adda alert on fb so rushed to wish you and give you hugssss ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope you are fine now.

  35. Can we please stop blaming the gender of the child for their (bad) behavior? I agree. A lot of people argue that men and women are diametrically opposite. Things like men are more aggressive, less emotional and sensitive while women are just the opposite are nothing but widespread stereotypes and only cause harm to both men and women. I believe saying that boys are naturally highly aggressive and nothing can be done about it, provides an escape for parents who donโ€™t want to analyze various social and cultural factors and their own sloppy parenting. It only perpetuates a cycle of aggression and in way also demonizes a particular gender.
    Although it is commonly believed in our society that men are more aggressive than women, research has shown effects that are more complex. The study of female aggression as a phenomenon in itself has only recently begun to receive due attention.

    One has to take into account the type of conflict. Firstly, is it the matter of aggression between groups, or of interpersonal aggression within a group, or within a family? Secondly the sex of the opponent is of critical importance: male -male, female- female, and male- female encounters should clearly be distinguished from each other. With respect to interpersonal aggression, same sex encounters are, for instance much more frequent than between sex encounters. (Bjorkqvist & Niemeld,1992; Burkbank,1987 )

    There is no reason to believe that females should be less hostile and less prone to get into conflicts than males. But being physically weaker, many have argued, they simply develop other means than physical ones in order reach successful results.

    Hence, if we limit aggression to physical strategies only, then it is certainly true that males have been found to be more aggressive than females in many societies. But, as anthropological studies have shown, such as research by Fry (1988, 1990, and 1992) and Cook (1992), it is not a universal truth. It does not hold for all cultures.

    Sex differences in aggression have been linked to several processes. One important source of such differences is in the ways in which men and women construe potentially provoking situations. In an early review of the literature, Frodi, Macaulay, and Thome (1977) concluded that women are more likely than men to consider aggression inappropriate, to repress aggression, and to experience guilt or anxiety in connection with aggressive actions. These findings indicate that the two sexes respond to normative prescriptions in judging aggression and in the affective states that accompany it.

    Generally, males are physically more aggressive than females, and females are more verbally aggressive than males. (Archer et al., 1988; Eagly & Steffen, 1986). Also females are more likely to use indirect aggression or relational aggression; males tend to favor more direct form of aggression. In many respects, relational aggression resembles physical aggression. However, strong provocation attenuates sex differences.

    It is important to note that although social psychological research (both in labs and fields) shows a consistent difference between males and females in aggression, this difference is very small. Gender accounts for very little of the variability we see in aggression among people. Hyde claims that only 5% of variation sources in aggression scores can be explained by sex.
    Aggression is moderated to a large degree by social and cultural factors. A provocation that evokes a violent and destructive response in one culture or society may elicit a more controlled reaction in another that follows different norms for aggressive behavior. Aggressive parenting, child abuse, violence on TV, inflated ego etc has found to increase aggression. The nature of a person’s socialization therefore provides another basis for individual differences in aggression within given situations.

So, what do you think?

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