Study Finds a Gender Gap in Self Control Among U.S. Youths, But No Similar Gap for Asian Children

WANLESSA new study led by Shannon Wanless, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, finds that there is a large gender gap in self control among children in the United States. However, no gender gap was found among children in three Asian countries.

In the United States, girls between the ages of 3 and 6 showed a higher level of self-regulation than boys. According to the authors, self-regulation is defined as the ability to control their behavior, follow directions, and persist in a given task. Such traits have been linked to later success in educational pursuits. There was no similar gender gap found among children in China, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Dr. Wanless asks, “What can we learn from Asian cultural and teaching practices about how we can support girls and boys to be successful in school? When we see differences in developmental patterns across countries it suggests that we might want to look at teaching and parenting practices in those countries and think about how they might apply in the United States.”

“In our study, self-regulation was good for academic achievement for boys and girls,” Wanless concluded. “That means this skill is important for both genders and we should be supporting self-regulatory development for all children, especially boys. Low self-regulation in preschool has been linked to difficulties in adulthood, so increased focused on supporting young boys’ development can have long-term positive benefits.”

Dr. Wanless is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in human development and family sciences from Oregon State University.

The research was published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly and may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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