DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SEXES DURING INFANCY & EARLY CHILDHOOD

Morphology

  • Average ______________________________________of boys is slightly larger than girls. Boys remain larger (on average) until about age 11, when girls, for a few years, exceed boys their own age in height (Click for link)
  • Newborn females have a more advanced ___________________, which continues to develop more rapidly until age 10 or 11.
  • By age 2, boys have higher ________________________________(click for link), and by age 7, greater ____________________________ than girls of comparable weights and body types.
  • From age 2, boys have an advantage over girl in __________________ and _________________________ strength.  Boys are better at throwing objects and tracking and reacting to objects thrown at them. 
  • Beginning as early as age 7, boys show a 10% increase in _____________________________________ over girls; this difference persists and widens considerably during adolescence.
  • Longer male adolescence allows males to grow ______________in proportion to their trunk compared to women.  This gives males an advantage in running and jumping.

Health and Mortality

  • Newborn males have lower ____________________ scores, on average (see Table 10-2 in your text).
  • Although more males are born than females (105:100), more males are stillborn and spontaneously aborted (miscarried) than are females.
  • Boys are more likely to be born _____________________, and more likely to experience respiratory distress at birth.  Testosterone retards maturation of fetal lungs and slows production of __________________.
  • Boys are also more likely to have cleft lips or cleft palates and heart defects.
  • Boys have higher rates of most _________________________, not only X-linked disorders, but also cancer, autism, cerebral palsy, polio, epilepsy, encephalitis, and respiratory illnesses.
  • Boys have higher __________________________________ (due not only to their greater vulnerability to illness, disease and starvation, but also to their higher rates of accidental injury). (see Figure 1 , Figure 2, and Figure 3)
  • This gender disparity in rates of disease and mortality has been explained primarily by the higher levels of ________________________ in males, as this hormone is a known __________________________________.

Behavior

Infants

  • Girls: respond more to touch, pain and sound, and are more easily soothed and comforted
  • Boys: respond more to visual stimuli, and cry more often and for longer periods

Toddlers (ages 1-3)

  • Girls: acquire _______________________ skills earlier and faster, show more interest in _______________________
  • Boys: more _________________________ active, show more interest in _____________________ than people

Brain differences

·        Females have smaller brain, but more brain cells.  They have extra neurons in areas for understanding _________________.  This may be why females master language and speech faster than boys and talk earlier.

·        Females also have a larger __________________________ , fibers connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  This connection between the verbal and spatial thinking centers may allow women to be better at sharing functions between hemispheres.

·        Males have superior ______________ abilities.  They are able to visualize what an object will look like rotated in space better than females.  Males also have better depth perception, and are better at geometric puzzles and mazes.  The right hemisphere, which controls visual and spatial skills, is larger in male brains than in females.

Young Children (ages 4-8)

  • Girls: tend to prefer ______________________________________ games and _____________________________ play; excel in language and ____________________________ activity.  One recent study indicates that play behavior in girls appears to be more directly influenced by the testosterone levels of her mother during pregnancy. Click here for link.
  • Boys: more _________________________________, tend to prefer ___________________________ games and ____________________ play; excel in spatial skills and ______________________________ activity

 

Play Differences

·        Before 6 years of age, both girls and boys are equally responsive to infants.  But after this age, _____________________ is almost an entirely female play activity.  Engaging in play parenting and “playing house” is associated with higher survival rates of firstborn children.

·        Boys play more with inanimate mechanical objects (like toy cars) and engage in more ______________________, such as building with blocks or making a fort.  Boys also experimentally manipulate objects more (taking them apart and putting them together) and have larger play ranges and thus more exploratory play in the environment.

·        _____________________ involves groups of children enacting everyday or imaginary themes. 

·  Boys play characters characterized by power and dominance, like cowboys or superman and enact conflicts.

·  Girls play family roles, where there are no clear winners, and don’t feature a dominance hierarchy.

·        Some researchers think same-sex groups are formed during this time due to the different play and social styles of boys and girls.  The sexes use different strategies to attempt to gain control over a desired resource (like a toy) or influence group activities.   

·  Boys shove and push, while girls use verbal persuasion and commands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hormones

  • In the first few months after birth, levels of ____________________________ are relatively high, compared to later in infancy and childhood. 
  • ____________________________ levels are higher in male newborns, peak at about ______________, and then gradually decline to childhood levels by the end of the first year.  Click for link to graph. Click on link to a 1996 study  Here’s another study from 1998
  • In females, testosterone levels decline to childhood levels about _______________ after birth.
  • Some studies have linked differences in hormone levels during early infancy to further sexual differentiation of ______________________________ after birth.

 

Sexual Development and Behavior

Infants:

  • Genitalia of boys and girls are typically swollen at birth, and proportionately larger (with respect to the rest of their bodies) than at any other time before puberty (due to residual effect of placental hormones)
  • Male infants get erections and appear to derive pleasure from fondling their own genitals (= genital play), but are incapable of _______________________ before puberty
  • Girl infants also appear to derive pleasure from fondling their own genitals, and may produce vaginal secretions

Toddlers & Young Children (age 2 - 8):

  • By age 2, both boys and girls may derive pleasure from deliberate self-masturbation, characterized by rhythmic manipulation of their own genitals.
  • By age 3, children are aware of ____________________________________ and can usually distinguish between males and females. Have trouble understanding the concept of marriage.
  • By age 4-5, children begin to acquire an increasing curiosity about gender differences, and games of "show" or "playing doctor" are common.
  • After age 5, games of "show" decline, as children exhibit more modesty, embarrassment from teasing, and a sense of privacy about their bodies; play activities become less common between the sexes. Begin to understand the concept of marriage.

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DEVELOPMENT OF SEXUALITY

Pre-adolescence (8 - 11 yrs) - transition period between childhood and puberty

Hormonal changes:

  • Between the ages of 8 - 11 years, levels of _____________________________ (particularly FSH) begin to rise in both boys and girls.
  • Dramatic changes in both FSH and LH occur just after age 10, preceding the onset of puberty.
  • Levels of testosterone and estrogen do not change until later, when puberty begins.

Gender Roles:

  • Usually become well established during this period
  • ____________________________________________________ is generally much more rigid for boys than for girls

Sex Education:

  • In the U.S., most children first learn about sexual intercourse and pregnancy by age 10.
  • The primary source of information for boys is often the ____________________________, especially classmates and older friends. For girls, the primary source tends to be their _______________________. In general, the father appears to provide little in the way of sex education for children.

Sexual Behavior:

  • Masturbation to orgasm may occur, especially among pre-pubescent boys. (Click for link to graph).  Most boys and girls learn about masturbation through accidental self-discovery, but boys also frequently learn about it from their (usually older) peers.
  • ___________________________________of social groups reaches a peak in pre-pubescent children. Consequently, there is typically very little heterosexual behavior during this period. "Dating" is usually more symbolic (exchange of rings, etc) than physical, although "kissing games" are common at parties.


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