Boys, more often than girls, display negative emotions and social fearfulness according to a new study performed by the University of Illinois.
Nancy McElwain, an associate professor of human development at the University, observed 107 children in gathering data on children’s social and emotional development and parent-child relationships.
Children were examined at 33 months and again at 39 months and their parents were asked how they would respond to their children’s behavior in several hypothetical situations.
“We investigated two types of parental reactions to children’s negative emotions. One type was to minimize their child’s emotions; for example, a parent might say, ‘Stop behaving like a baby’. Another type of reaction was punishing the child for these emotions. A parent might send a child to their room or take away a toy” Engle stated.
Parents who punished their kids for fears and frustrations were more likely to have children who were anxious and withdrawn. This type of response to punishing parenting styles was more prominent among toddler boys.
Engle observed, “When children are upset, it’s better if you can talk with them and help them work through their emotions rather than sending then to their room to work through their feelings on their own. Young children, especially little boys who are prone to feeling negative emotions intensely, need your comfort and support when their emotions threaten to overwhelm them.”