Motor Skills – Boys and Girls

Do Girls have an Advantage?

In the womb, girls mature physiologically faster whereas boys tend to grow a bigger body. How do the differences influence the development of motor skills? Do the girls have any advantages?

At birth a newborn girl has a greater sensory and physiologically maturity but boys are usually more active and it appears that they make up for the differences by practicing more. Some studies have found that boys crawl, sit, and walk earlier than girls walk, but only small differences have been found.

  • Overall, there appears to be few sex differences.

During infancy, there is no difference between boys and girls when it comes to finer motor skills. Girls do not develop the pincher grasp faster than boys do– the pincher grasp is when a baby holds a toy or food between the thumb and forefinger.
If you watch a baby trying to reach for a toy, you can see how he or she spends days or weeks strengthening the neck muscles, and doing little mini push-ups. The baby’s head may wobble and from the beginning, they clearly cannot balance their relatively large head. But with practice they eventually master the skills.

  • Boys are often heavier than girls are and this can help them quicker to achieve balance – may help a boy when he is learning to walk or stand.
  • Boys are often more active and practice is a vital component in the mastering of motor skills.
  • Boys may move around more and from the beginning boys tend to kick and wave their arms more.
  • A baby learns to master motor skills by practicing repeatedly.

Difference in expectations may also explain that there are hardly any differences between boys and girls (you would expect some differences since girls are sensory and physiologically more mature). In many societies, parents tend to focus more on their son’s motor development and they have higher expectations on their sons when it comes to motor development. If you have a daughter, you can encourage and challenge your daughter physical development.

 

Photo: Boy Shouting by Tina Phillips

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