Different factors affecting boys’ performance during their school years have always been the subject of various studies, articles and researches. The percentage of boys who attend special education classes, have problems with discipline and drop out of school is higher versus that of girls, while the percentage of the female population getting a college degree is higher. Thus, the behavior of boys in school is of growing concern and their behavior needs to be examined and analyzed in order to determine the driving factors and come up with the possible solutions.
In order to determine the reasons for boys’ behavior changes while in school, we first have to determine the triggering factors which shape the behavior pattern of males and females during the first stages of their lifespan development. First of all, many scientists suggest that the male behavior is innate and is primarily influenced by their biology before the socialization takes its toll. The research into the development of the male and female brain suggests that all children, regardless of age, start off identical both anatomically and mentally (Parrish). The development of boys is triggered by the Y chromosome, which is absent in females, after about the eighth week of pregnancy. At this time, additional male hormones (androgens) are received by the child. The hormones affect the development of the sexual organs in males, men’s muscle mass and fat disposition, as well as the structure of the brain. Therefore, some of further differences between boys and girls occur because of the biology and anatomic structure of the brain. Boys are more active and impatient, while girls can focus and concentrate for a longer time and sit patiently. Boys’ attention span is significantly shorter than that of girls, and girls also can multitask much more productively than boys. Girls are more emotional than boys. Another biological research states that there is a specific medical condition, triggered by the excess of androgens, and known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Females who suffer from this medical disorder perform the behavior which is alike that of males, and tend to choose more manly types of activities, hobbies, dressing style and career.
Of course, although biological aspect is considered to be a fundamental factor of shaping one’s behavior pattern, different people act differently at different age, grown in different societies, brought up by different families within different traditions and influenced by different visual sources (books, movies, landscape, videogames, etc). Family background is one of the key factors of the child behavior, as well. For example, the research of risk factors for violent behavior showed that those children who misbehaved in school were 6 times as likely to have divorced or separated parents, 11 times as likely not to live with their fathers, and had almost twice as many siblings compared to those students whose behavior was considered satisfactory (Sheline, Skipper&Broadhead).
Thus, we see that two fundamental factors which participate in shaping childrens’ behavior is the biological shape of the brain along with hormones, and the environment in which they grow up. These criteria are applicable for both males and females. However, when it comes to boys’ behavior in school, we have to take into consideration those factors which only concern males and are relevant during their schools years.
Among various reasons for boys’ behavior to change during their school years, we can particularly emphasize on their puberty and boredom. The hormones that trigger a young male to enter puberty and go under some physical changes also make him change his attitude and mindset. Their youthful bravado, overly confident or even rude manner of talking and behaving, changing their clothing style, getting into arguments with peers and seeking attention from girls might be seen as misbehavior, but it is not exactly so. The boys just try to express themselves, define their personality and find the path they want to persuade. They also seek attention from girls, because this is a good way to get acknowledged among the fellows and friends, position themselves as successful and adult in their communication circle, not to be left out and simply have someone to share intimate feelings with. If a boy sees that the girl he wants to start a relationship with is not turning her attention to him, he tries to draw her attention to his persona, and the way he chooses might not be always considered to be the most appropriate one. For example, he might act up during class, make loud jokes, speak rudely to the teacher, dress in an unusual way and even start some arguments and fights with other boys.
Sometimes a boy might not even show some personality changes he has undergone as he hit puberty until he has a crush on a girl and wants her to notice him among the other boys. At this point, he chooses different ways to make himself stand out among other boys, while he needs to realize that it is important to be an interesting person. Moreover, it is important to be attractive for the opposite sex not only by his ostentatious behavior, but also by being a young guy who looks after himself, shows some manners, is easy going, open, friendly and helpful, has a good sense of humor and can discuss various topics with girls. At this stage, it is important for parents not to compare their son with other kids, but emphasize on his strong sides and positive character traits. Also, they have to appreciate his effort rather than his gift and talents, because it keeps him motivated.
Motivation, and especially the lack of it, leads us to the second reason for boys’ behavior change. Boredom can take place when a person does not feel challenged and motivated. As it was previously mentioned, boys’ brain is different from girls’, which is why they sometimes need different approach in learning. Boys tend to express their intentions by acting rather than by talking, they cannot sit still for long periods of time, they cannot continuously use only one way of learning (such as, for example, reading for a long period or listening to audiotapes during the whole class), etc. Therefore, being placed in the same learning environment with girls and feeling that their special needs are not considered; boys easily grow tired, bored and disappointed of the academic activities and begin to use different ways to entertain themselves. It might seem as if their behavior has worsened, when in reality they simply need a change of activity or learning approach, as well as some challenges and motivations in order to stay interested and pay their attention to academic affairs. It should be taken into consideration by teachers, and they should keep tasks for boys shorter, more straightforward and competitive than for girls. The boys are also built for activity, and they need to be given the chance to stay active and let their energy out as often as possible.
Boys’ development is affected by various reasons, but it is important to be aware of their family background, role models (whether they have any at all) and the current environment. It will help to see where the problems with their behavior come from and whether these problems are short-term and minor or some serious ones that need immediate attention and intervention. All negative and positive changes, regardless of their nature, are shaping the boys’ personality. Therefore, the most important thing for a boy in this period of his life is to have someone to talk about it with in order to make sure that he is moving the right way in his lifespan development.
Parrish, T. BrainyChild. Boys' Behavior: Why Boys Behave the Way They Do. N.d. Web. Accessed online on April 21, 2014 at: http://www.brainy-child.com/article/boys-behavior.shtml
Sheline, J., Skipper, B., Broadhead, W. (1994) Risk Factors for Violent Behavior in Elementary School Boys: Have You Hugged Your Child Today? American Journal of Public Health, April, Vol. 84, No. 4 p.661-663