Much has been said and written over the years about gender stereotyping children. The debate often comes down to toys, clothes, games and roles in the home, but there may be an easier way to spot the obvious differences between girl and boy child behaviour: count their injuries.
I’m not talking about school level, where boys start playing rugby and girls are consigned to netball – I’m thinking about the pre-school years when children are just starting to find their way about. And I know that there are exceptions: a notable one in my personal experience is the daughter of a friend. When Gabrielle was 3 years old – we were saying goodbye in the driveway, and while our backs were turned, she managed to climb on to the roof of our car. As her father stepped forward to lift her down, Gabi joyfully swandived into his arms. I think we all went back inside for a drink.
Generally though, it’s the little boys who are out on the lawn trying to execute wrestling moves on the dog, or managing to get wedged beneath its kennel. My niece and nephew make a perfect case in point. Sienna got hurt once when being pushed too exuberantly on a swing by her uncle. She fell and was rushed to the emergency room where she received a few stitches. From that day to this she has become a diligent inspector of playground equipment, and she treats her uncle with deep suspicion.
Then there’s her younger brother, Miles, who has spent the first three years of his life slipping into, sliding under or falling out of everything. And the smiling Miles tumbles on. In the latest family video you can see him rolling down a dune, only to sit up with a face-full of sand and a grin of absolute pleasure.
I don’t know whether this difference between girls and boys is due to socialisation or simply chromosomes, but it does mean that you have to have a working knowledge of first aid, a decent after-care service and eyes in the back of your head as your little boys test-drive concepts such as gravity and hard surfaces. Visit the Paediatricianon our fabulous new-look Expert forums for professional advice – or write in to Parenting Cornerfor understanding and support.
Too little play hurts young bones
Prevent childhood accidents at home
Household first aid kit
(Joanne Hart, Health24)