For doctors

You probably hear it all the time that girls develop faster than boys. While this might be commonly accepted parenting wisdom, is it true? Is there really a developmental difference between boys and girls? Gender differences in development have been researched extensively over the years, and yes, there are marked developmental differences between boys and girls, sometimes from birth.

Language skills

Researchers from Northwestern University have found that girls develop language skills earlier than boys. Specifically, it was found that parts of the brain connected to language work harder in girls when they perform language tasks as compared to boys. Also, boys and girls use different parts of their brains when performing these types of tasks. It was also revealed that language processing is more abstract in girls and more sensory in boys.

While girls are more inclined to express their emotions verbally, many boys are more likely to express their emotions physically.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), boys and girls have differences at the academic level. Boys perform better on visual tasks, but are more likely to have learning disabilities. Girls are able to concentrate and pay attention for longer periods of time.

Emotional development

Research has also shown that girls are more advanced in terms of emotional development. While girls are more inclined to express their emotions verbally, many boys are more likely to express their emotions physically. The AAP theorizes that these differences are primarily cultural and occur because boys are expected to be tough and suppress their feelings and emotions.

Sensory and cognitive development

An examination of the sensory and cognitive development of boys and girls has revealed that girls are more likely to possess advanced skills in memory, touch, hearing, smell, and vision. After the age of three, the gap in cognitive development is narrowed, as boys are more likely to have advanced visual-spatial integration skills.


  • Girls lead boys in the development of language skills.
  • Boys are more advanced at visual tasks, while girls are able to pay attention for longer periods of time.
  • The emotional development of girls is more advanced than boys, and they are more likely to express emotions verbally.
  • Boys are more advanced at tasks that require visual-spatial integration, while girls excel in memory and sensory skills. 


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Sons.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Daughters.
  3. National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. General Brain Development.
  4. Northwestern University. Gender Differences In Language Appear Biological.

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  1. I don’t have a girl, but I can definitely say that my boys do tend to be a little slower language wise. Not way behind but they would rather be moving then talking

    1. Yes! I think some boys are so busy running around, they don’t have time to slow down and communicate. 🙂

  2. I had always heard that girls develop language skills faster than boys, so I wasn’t too worried when my friend’s baby girl (3 weeks younger than my son) was talking up a storm when my son was barely saying anything. I was jealous, of course, but not worried! 😉 Glad there’s actual research to back up that idea!

  3. I have definitely noticed that my daughter is developing socially faster than my boys did. They did the physical stuff, like crawling and walking, before her but didn’t talk as much or as soon as she is.

    And it’s only fitting that girls develop emotionally more than boys, haha!