Increasingly, supposedly innate differences between girls and boys will be discussed again lately. But what really goes into the "Auto gene" of boys and on "Puppenwagen gene" of girls?

Of cars and doll carriage

clad girls

The first word that spoke my little son, was "Mama". The second was "Auto". The latter he has since used about 1.3 million times as often as the first. My husband and I are innocent: There was no imprint on our part in this direction. His first toy was inherited from the big sister and contained few vehicles. Meanwhile rolls a frosted Armada through our laminate which hums and whines deafening (and invites, slipping it). Drives the garbage disposal before outside, my son stuck reliably with the nose at the window. And if mom, dad or a neighbor coming home, he already recognizes the engine noise of the respective car. Typical boy, then? It is not that easy. Even his doll carriage and the children's kitchen will gladly played our two year old. And from the mind her er so far as gently as you would like to ascribe little girl. Is there really characteristic behavior for each gender? And if so, they are innate or instilled? Urbia shows what is at the smallest to the most common prejudices about "typical girl" or "typical boy" off.

Prejudice or truth?

Seven common opinions: Prejudice or truth?

  • Boys are more aggressive than girls
  • The impression of many parents is true that boys are after the observation of scientists actually more aggressive than girls. As early as three years old begin boy to push things to the whole body and to push and to allow crashing toys. Just four years Boys like competitions and deal much with the issue of winning or losing. But why is this? "It is believed that testosterone plays an important role, which is associated with a fighting spirit, a hormone," said Susan Gilbert in her book "typical boy! Typical Girls ". And the historian Susa Schindler added in their study: "There is the theory that hormones control the development of the brain. So that boys and girls each other, the brain would Gender ', as they were exposed to male and female sex hormones in the womb differently high amounts ". But a major reason is that parents with boys deal early differently, namely rougher than with girls. And that in our society aggressive behavior in boys is considered more likely than normal and more tolerated. Television, too, demonstrates that competition is typically male: There mainly male-dominated COMPETITION sports (football) are transmitted. "There is no question that boys mimic the mostly male sports heroes," said Gilbert. Even in cartoons for the youngest male figures are represented much more aggressive than females. Something amazing, the researchers also found: Unlike girl friendships competitive behavior does not affect young friendships negative - it heard for little boys just so.

  • Girls are caring
  • When girls see a little baby in kindergarten age, they often make enchanted "oh" and express the desire to keep it and to feed it, while boys often respond with indifference here. So girls seem more interested in babies and on imitating supplying behaviors ( "mother-father-child" games) to have. This is likely to female sex hormones which came into effect in the womb. It will reinforce the capacity for compassion. Accurate specialists but do not yet know. Imitation also plays a role: They still see that especially Mama (even if it is employed) runs the household and is responsible for the care of children. This is reflected in their game. Nevertheless, boys can show very caring behavior. Experts emphasize that it would be good for society if parents would often give her sons opportunity (comforting younger siblings, care of animals) - because this has anger no place: "Care is an antidote to violence," emphasizes the American gender (= gender) -forscherin Carol Nagy Jacklin.

  • Girls are more anxious than boys
  • In infants, behavioral scientists have observed that there tends to be a little more timid girls than boys. It is assumed here an inherited predisposition that occurs slightly more often in girls. But as more important they value education: believes Jerome Kagan of the American Harvard University that girls especially learn to be afraid: Because parents are often overprotective and overprotective towards girls and daughters too often sound a note of caution. Let parents on the other hand have their own experiences, by failing to comfort her over as if they have fallen, those girls will be after his observation significantly less anxious.

  • Girls are nice and have a better social behavior
  • Girls are slightly more willing to compromise, open and considerate than boys, according to the gender research. but they are not necessarily "better", they show their anger rather a different way than boys: namely more with words than physically, and often more "back way" (gossiping) than directly. Scientists attribute this in part to different kinds of friendships back: Little girls often play in pairs or in small groups, boys often have a larger, looser but friends. Since girls friendships go deeper, losing girls more if they behave aggressively, explains Susan Gilbert. Another reason is that parents and society the girls take an openly aggressive behavior rather bad, so that girls have to learn to find other expressions of anger.

  • Boys prefer cars, girls dolls
  • The aforementioned (or should I say lamented) preference of my son for vehicles is apparently quite typical: "Even our little children looking out gender toys. And if you look at drawings of little boys and girls, the pictures are quite different. Boys, for example, like to draw airplanes or representations of battles, "the Austrian ethologist Irenäus Eibel Eibesfeldt explained in an interview. Scientists believe that the preference for vehicles therefore, is that boys are more interested in Moving than unmoved and so train their spatial awareness. The character of boys something "burschikosere" is associated with it. This preference was probably influenced by the early influence of the male sex hormone testosterone on the male brain, the American scientist Sheri Berenbaum. Once again, however, it is also simply Erziehungssache: to give boys "girls 'toys' and vice versa, often still considered inappropriate. Nevertheless, there are girls who appreciate cars more than dolls, and a lot of guys you see today happy and quite naturally a doll carriage before them slide.

  • Girls are in the development of one-upmanship
  • In the fine motor area girl in kindergarten age compared to boys actually a lead of about six months, so Susan Gilbert have. also is suspected hormone-related differences in the structure of the brains of girls and boys. Also catch girls earlier to speak. There are two causes: experiments showed that the brain of baby girls can store more information than the language of boys, and that they can also listen a little longer concentrated. This animates the parents in return to speak with her daughters more and more. And of course, makes reverse for a faster language development of girls. Here there's a ping-pong effect.

  • Boys can better anticipate
  • Researchers found no differences in intelligence between boys and girls. However, there are obviously different strengths of both sexes. The American researchers Camilla Benbow and Julian C. Stanley found that boys find it easier when dealing with numbers. Both in the superiority of the boys in arithmetic and in-mentioned girls, linguistic many scientists assume innate differences in the brain as the cause. Here the biologist reports Dr. Sigrid Schmitz concerns: "The tremendous momentum of our brain plasticity (adaptability =), this constant interplay between biological structure formation and environmental influences makes our decisive evolutionary advantage. Learning and behavior cause changes in the brain. "Differences in the brains of girls and boys therefore need not be innate, but can also be caused by different promotion in certain areas.

Influence of biology is overrated

Still too many roles clichés

Schmitz, a lecturer in gender studies at the University of Freiburg, asking for even provocative, "Why is it so important to establish gender differences biologically? Why are these declarations accepted so readily by many people? Perhaps because the lifting of gender differences would shake our social order that is based on gender hierarchies, to its foundations! "In fact, scientists can so far found no real evidence for a biological definition of certain behaviors in all assumptions. A girl can be much different from the other girls so when a boy - and vice versa. There are gentle boy and feisty girls. Therefore Schmitz warns against overestimating the influence of biology. "With us still dominate gender stereotypes", Says the expert. "Children learn not only from their parents but also from their friends. Since it also plays a very important role to assume a specific gender behavior in order to belong to a particular group." And the media do the rest: "make gender-specific behavior mostly uncritically and is particularly appear in their advertising messages heavily on the children a" how judges also Susa Schindler.

Five everyday tips for parents

Thus the most slightly distinct biological differences are not amplified unilaterally by our upbringing, giving gender researchers parents the following tips for everyday life:

  • mitigate aggression and anxiety
  • Aggressive behavior is more influenced by parental example and by the media than by gender differences. Therefore, parents should avoid physical punishment, threats and harsh commands compared to the offspring. In conflicts between children especially boys alternatives to the use of fists can be shown. No way parents can show subliminal pride when her son proves physically "elbow". Also watching violence (television, computer games) should be avoided. Boys need more opportunity to practice caring behavior, because this is the best prevention against violence. And even with the fear parental behavior is crucial: In girls, but also in uncertain guys should not act overprotective, because this promotes anxiety. Also solid boundaries and rules help the researchers believe to be afraid because they provide stability and security.

  • compensate for weaknesses
  • Because boys seem a bit slower in the fine motor skills and speaking learning than girls, parents can make sure to talk much and too focused with their sons. Fine motor skills are trained in everything for which one can use his fingers: When threading thick beads, while painting, tinkering of simple, homemade toys. An idea of ​​numbers before you can also train with girls early on, by incorporating small everyday Rechnereien ( "We have to go shopping, we only have two apples, look!").

  • Toy Preference: avoid one-sidedness
  • One should not offer sided toy that is considered typical for their gender children naturally. So boys do not give unsolicited cars and girls Barbies. but you should allow reverse these preferences when are they there. So you need a toy that is considered gender-typical, so not to banish. If a boy is happy only with a remote-controlled crane, and a girl with a certain doll or Barbie, it is absolutely harmless when one fulfills this desire.

  • When guys use "girly stuff" - not afraid of homosexuality!
  • And in another important point there is often too little serenity with their parents: The research has already shown that it has no meaning for subsequent sexual orientation when boys like to try out for a while "girl stuff" as girls clothes, nail polish, perfume or hair accessories. Although one should not necessarily send a boy so to kindergarten (to avoid teasing), one may see domestic experiments in this direction quite relaxed.

  • create new role models
  • Although many parents have this out of hand: Subliminal encouragement to certain behavioral roles are still everyday. Studies have shown: the expectations of the parents are (implicitly) today often: Girls Attract pretty. Boy crying less. Girl helping in the kitchen. Girls should marry later (including employment) and kids get to earn money boys and make a career. But above all, the lives of the parents themselves serve as a model: Even if the wife works, the husband is still working with little in the household. But children shared with early, when it is the mother always that clears the table. Or always the father who manages the money and the most important purchasing decisions.

    Since the Kiga Group is a role model, it is important that parents with the child every now and then doubts about the validity of group expectations sow: by encouraging them to simply play what it would prefer, even if the actually " boys "- or" girl games ". And by supporting it if it wants to behave sexually atypical, so maybe does not want to give to the carnival princess, but rather heats for the Harry Potter costume. The caregivers of children (nanny, babysitter, teachers) are important: you should not encourage girls and boys to "gender-typical" games or practices. If parents on this, if they want to point out quietly.

for Further Reading

  • "Gender roles: Which biological factors influence our behavior?" Susa Schindler, (Overview of studies and the state of gender research.)
  • Interview with the Austrian ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Süddeutsche Zeitung online:
  • "On the division of roles between men and women in different cultures" Study of the Bielefeld sociology professor Hans-Peter Blossfeld and his colleague Sonja Bremer Drobnic.
  • "As seen on TV - As toddlers mimic emotional reactions of adults on TV"By Florian Rötzer.