We often hear that boys need to be toughened up so as not to be sissies. Parent toughness toward babies is celebrated as “not spoiling the baby.” Wrong! These ideas are based on a misunderstanding of how babies develop. Instead, babies rely on tender, responsive care to grow well—resulting in self-control, social skills and concern for others.
A review of empirical research just came out by Allan N. Schore, called “All our sons: The developmental neurobiology and neuroendocrinology of boys at risk.”
This thorough review shows why we should be worried about how we treat boys early in their lives. Here are a few highlights:
Why does early life experience influence boys significantly more than girls?
- Boys mature slower physically, socially and linguistically.
- Stress-regulating brain circuitries mature more slowly in boys prenatally, perinatally and postnatally.
- Boys are affected more negatively by early environmental stress, inside and outside the womb, than are girls. Girls have more built-in mechanisms that foster resiliency against stress.