Boys will be boys

Making sure they both learn to love the outdoors

I’m going to go a bit mommy blogger on you. Ok, mommy runner/fitness blogger, how’s that?

Before becoming a parent, I was a big believer in nurture vs. nature. I still think nurture plays a huge role in who our children become. But I also have to give a bit more credence to nature, as well, since becoming a parent almost 12 years ago. And I also have seen differences in my children that are gender specific, perhaps something I wouldn’t have believed BC (before children) either. Quick side note–did you know there is no longer a BC/AD? Nope, it’s now BCE and CE. Something I learned from my son. But I digress.

What I’m getting at is that without question, boys are inherently more active than girls. My son and his friends always, without fail, get outside to play. Even if he is staring down a two-hour swim practice, he wants to get get outside with his friends. It might be a game of basketball, tag, or kicking the soccer ball around, but those boys somehow recognize they have energy to expend and go right ahead and expend it. Easy peasy for a parent who wants to see her kids moving.

My daughter, on the other hand, enjoys outdoor activities, but when with friends, tends to choose an indoor, quieter activity. They would rather do imaginative play than active play, even if it’s a warm, beautiful day. Which turns me into a bit of a nag when my daughter is with her friends because while I like to see her enjoy all types of play, after a full day of school I want to see her move. Before you assume that’s just her personality type, I can say that across the board in my neighborhood, the girls tend to be less active by nature than the boys.

My daughter does belong to some organized sports, which makes up some of the shortfall, but otherwise, it’s up to me to get her in motion. So I try to find things that we both enjoy–bike rides, short runs, hikes, and trips to the pool in the summer. Or it could be as simple as getting out for a walk. Whatever the case might be, I make sure she does get activity and is raised to love the outdoors.

Anyone else notice the same differences between their sons and daughters? What is your approach? 


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  1. says

    My oldest is a bookworm boy. He does enjoy fighting with his younger brother, though, so in that regard he’s pretty active. My oldest daughter is also quite bookish and inclined toward music and art. My other kids, boys and girls, are crazy active. Non. Stop. Action.

    I do agree on the nature being so dominant a determinant. To a degree in terms of gender, but also simply in their personalities. I once read a fascinating article in The New Yorker magazine about identical twins who’d been separated at birth and raised in very different environments. Not just one set but many, many sets. They really gave strong support to the “nature” camp. I wish I could locate that article.
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  2. says

    I have 3 boys and 2 are extremely active. The other has to be forced outside but enjoys sports and playing once he gets moving.
    Growing up, *I* was actually very active, as well. My sister was more like you’re describing, though, so I really do tend to lean towards it being personality based…

  3. says

    My son is SO active! My bff has a boy and a girl. The girl is the same age as my son and the boy is 3 years younger. My son prefers to play with the boy because they have the same activity level. Boys NEED to move all the time!
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  4. says

    As a teacher who has had a few classes that were boy heavy I will say that boys are way more active! And they love to talk over top of each other.. When I had a class of 3 girls and the rest of my 20 plus kids were boys, we had lots of movement in our room..and lots of just shouting out. The funny thing is that sometimes they would make my head spin b/c I couldn’t follow some of the random thoughts, but most of the boys really didn’t have much probably following the two or three conversations going on at the same time. lol

  5. says

    I love to see and her about parents teaching their children to love the outdoors and activity!
    We’re not parents yet but will definitely try to be the same way.
    From boy vs girl toddlers my friends have, the boys are always more active and constantly moving whereas the little girls will sit down with art for a while or seem to want to be read to more. Interesting!
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  6. says

    Yes!!! My kids are only 4 (boy) and 2 (girl), and the personality differences are striking. I tend to play more active activities with my son, such as racing, making up bstacle courses, playing basketball etc. My daughter likes doing hand claps, painting, and playing “house” etc. Of course, there is overlap, but their preferences still are quite apparent.

  7. says

    I only have boys so can’t compare. I just know that I’m always encouraging activity – of any sort!!! When I worked full time and had to be at work part of the summer, I made them earn technology minutes by doing different exercises. Now I just like them trying new things all the time!!
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  8. says

    Growing up with a brother I felt like we always played outside. Sure, I had indoor hobbies like crafting, and as I got older (junior high), I suppose I was more indoor. But definitely as a child I was outdoor. It probably helped that my cousin, also a boy, was over a lot so I was kind of outnumbered. If I wanted to play it was usually boy stuff.

    My mom was big on going for bike rides with us too, at all ages. That was a great activity.
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  9. says

    SO interesting!!! WIth only boys (and little ones at that), I haven’t had the opportunity to view this yet…I only grew up with sisters and felt that we were more active than a lot of our other girlfriends. We were the only girls often at the park playing basketball or throwing a football. I think part of that is b/c my dad is SUPER involved in every sport – and since he didn”t have boys, we were taught to throw and catch and do all sports from an early age.
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  10. says

    Being married to a sociologist, we were curious to explore the nature vs. nurture first hand as well. My daughter sounds a lot like yours… she enjoys getting outside and running around but lately I feel like I’m pulling her out the door… she loves her imaginative play. And it’s not with trucks… :)
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  11. says

    I have 2 boys, so no experience with girls. But I can say that if they don’t get out and play (like if it’s pouring) I pay the price:) Luckily there is an indoor trampoline place that just popped up 5 minutes away from our house and we have been taking full advantage!
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  12. says

    I notice this exact phenomenon with my 6-YO twins. My boy is much more willing to go outside and enjoys climbing, turning himself upside down, long mountain hikes etc. My daughter, even though she’s a bit of a tomboy in some ways (hates dresses, doesn’t play with dolls or other “girl toys”–she likes Star Wars), would much rather be coloring inside. I have to force her out. When she does get out, she has fun….but like I said you have to force it.

    The one activity they BOTH love is swimming. No pushing her there!
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  13. says

    I think it’s more personality than gender. I have boys that are go, go, go, and i have a couple that would rather read or play games inside. I have a couple of daughters who are out there playing soccer, wrestling on the trampoline and tackle football with the boys, and girls who would rather play with dolls. They are just all different. We encourage all of them to be active and to find an activity that they are passionate about (and pursues a talent or interest that they have). And of course it’s fun to do outdoorsy stuff all together. :)
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  14. Colleen Kingery says

    THANK YOU! Having just found out that we are having a girl, this is GREAT information to keep in mind as out little one grows up. Love the comments too. Such great info for a mom to be!

  15. Holly says

    No doubt! The other day after 2 hours of skiing after school, my son (8) went home to play basketball and my daughter (7) made pot holders.

  16. says

    Totally..I don’t have a girl yet (april) but with my son, he could basically live outside if you gave him a coat. He loves everything outdoors and I don’t want to discourage him but right now it’s COLD in STL and I’m not real interested in being outside.

    Either way, I’m hoping #2 is as excited about being outside as I am. I’m hoping that one of these kids will grow up to run or bike with me. Either way, I see what you’re talking about.

    Enjoy your time outside! :)
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  17. Stephanie says

    Random question, what race shirt are you wearing in the picture with your boys? It looks like a race I ran in Richmond.

  18. says

    My children don’t match your stereotypes. I often refer to my daughter as “sporty spice” – always moving: cartwheels, skipping, running, flipping around on the play structure out back, shooting baskets (new b-ball goal we picked up at Thanksgiving), etc. While she will sit and watch TV and occassionally doesn’t indoor/quiet imaginative play – she is just as likely to get up from that and run around outside. My son on the other hand, will choose to sit in front of the TV for hours on end (weekends) and play video games, watch movies, etc – only moving to pee. We tied taking three walks (1.5-2 miles each) with his dad (brisk) 3x/week to his allowance to get him moving more – though he has taken some interest here and there to the new basketball goal. Our neighborhood is mostly boys and they all get kicked out into the yards/cul-de-sac to play when weather is nice (or really snowy) – some seem more “into” it than others though. Regardless, it is great to be an example to the kids to show them how fitness is just as much a part of life as eating, sleeping and going to school.
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