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Part Two: Why Gender Matters by Dr. Leonard Sax

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Yesterday was part 1: Why Gender Matters by Dr. Sax and today I'll be writing a bit more on some of his other chapters.
Keep in mind although this information is very useful for relationships between spouses, this book is mostly for parenting and teaching, and those applications, so that is where my focus is for these two posts. I also tend to lean heavily on the 'boy' side of relating this information simply because...I'm not a boy! I found this information fascinating and although I did know some of the chemical differences and reactions between males and females, I am obviously more aware of how I am/was and so I gleaned more from the 'male' side of it.

Ever noticed that little girls tend to flock together, dressing up and playing tea party while boys love games that are movement originated and often, rough and tumble in nature*? It's because, scientifically, boys feel a tingle of excitement when risk or fear is involved. Females, when tested with a simulated bicycle accident, reported fear, and males reported exhilaration. Not only that, but males tend to overestimate their ability (thus all the bruises, scrapped knees, broken bones,etc.) and girls tend to underestimate their ability.
Similar to the subject of risk in how the male brain works differently than female is in aggression. Fight Club is a popular male movie (yeah, my husband likes it, too:) and there have been many 'fight clubs' pop up all over the United States after the release of the movie simply because...boys like to fight. This all goes back to that male hormone testosterone. Boys act differently than females...because they have different chemical releases/hormones than each other. Whereas female "violence" in school is usually an emotional bullying (clique ostracizing one member to the outskirts), male bullying is physical violence that will end the child up in the Principal's office.
Stress is another difference between male and female brain components where (um, if you haven't noticed this in your marriage....) the reactions are completely different because the action in the brain is going through different areas of the brain, and are usually (unfortunately) non-complementary.
Dr. Sax does devote a few chapters on Sex, Drugs, and Discipline, which I actually thought were helpful on understanding why certain bad habits were more prone to which gender. I'd like to say, though, that he is very blunt in his chapter on Discipline and I appreciate that because our culture is so accommodating to children it's causing them harm. Finally an expert who stands up for parents being parents instead of friends (like this guy, thank you!).

Bottom Line:
  • Dr. Sax has started an organization that initiates separating children through high school by gender. As in, one wing of the school female, the other, male. Not only has this had major success with concentration, behavior issues, and petty distraction, it's upped academic scores, too!
  • Boys and girls are different because...some are boys...some are girls. There is no its, ands, or buts about it. They are different and they learn and respond to the same situations...wait for it...differently. To further this idea, if you're a teacher, put all the boys up front, and all the girls in the back of the classroom and then speak louder. The boys will be on your level of listening and the girls won't feel as if they're being shouted at.
  • Recess, recess, recess; art, art, art! It's a sad thing when many schools feel they have to give up 'extras' in order to continue studying to keep the scores up and in essence, let go of very valuable time where children are learning creativity outside of the box with art materials or by making up their own games playing outside. Especially boys need recess, it is really how the Kindergarten teachers say , "it gets the wiggles out!"
  • Dr. Sax highly recommends engaging boys in sports that they are interested in; and for highly aggressive, busy boys, to have that that energy released in the form of sports or some sort of hard physical activity (working on building a house for Habitat, etc.) because the risk of an 'edgy' sport (hockey, snow-boarding, etc.) is much smaller than the risk of that child not expounding that energy until something more dangerous and thrilling (violence, drugs, sex, etc.) in the teenage years comes along. Statistically, it's there. Put them in some sort of sport or activity that has purpose and is hard.
  • Finally, and most importantly: BE A FAMILY. There is a reason why people say everything starts at home...it does! Be a parent and discipline your children appropriately (taking away privileges, time outs, etc.) If you aren't consistent, your child notices. It is a lot of work to continue to discipline consistently when they're very young, but you will reap benefits when they are older. Children whose families take the time to do the simple act of eating together also have less incidence of teenage pregnancy, drug or alcohol problems, and depression.
My 'extra': Make sure your children are getting enough sleep and proper healthy meals. You have no idea how many behavior issues can be halted with just these two things. Children under 5 need 12 hours of sleep and even full grown adults need 8. Make it a priority. It helps with weight, stress, and depression issues. Healthy meals are of course, obvious, but never really followed through with. Sugar, caffeine, and chemical dyes and preservatives are hurting this country's health terribly.

*Obviously, not every single child will be this exact type of 'feminine girl' or 'masculine boy'. There are always exceptions and Dr. Sax devotes an entire chapter to 'exceptions'. The book, and my two sparse posts, are only going to focus on the majority.

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