Boys Need Verbal Skills for Self-control

EAST LANSING, Mich., Sept. 22 (UPI) — Developing language skills appears to be more important for boys than girls in helping them develop self-control and succeed in school, U.S researchers say.

Claire Vallotton, a Michigan State University assistant professor of child development, says more emphasis should be placed on encouraging boy toddlers to “use their words” — instead of unruly behavior — to solve problems, a university release reported.


“It shouldn’t be chalked off as boys being boys,” Vallotton said. “They need extra attention from child-care providers and teachers to help them build language skills and to use those skills to regulate their emotions and behavior.”

The study is the first to suggest language skills have a bigger impact on boys’ self-regulation than on girls’.

Vallotton and co-researcher Catherine Ayoub of Harvard Medical School found that language skills — particularly the building of vocabulary — help children regulate their emotions and behavior.

While girls overall seemed to possess a natural ability to control themselves and focus, boys who developed a strong vocabulary demonstrated a dramatic increase in this ability to self-regulate.

“There’s been a concentrated effort lately, through policy and programs, to emphasize that kids build their social and emotional skills by the time they reach kindergarten so they can be ready to learn in that environment and throughout their school careers,” Vallotton said. “Self-regulation is increasingly talked about as a pivotal skill.”

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