Over fifty years ago, a developmental psychologist, by the name of Michael Lewis, researched gender differences using one-year olds. Lewis and his colleagues set up a barrier between a child and mother. The barrier created physical separation, but the child was able to see the mother. They then cued the mother to begin showing evidence of distress - crying, sighing, etc.
Most of the boys attempted to tear down the barrier, whereas most girls stood and wept. Lewis remarked on how the boys wanted to get back to their mothers, even if it required climbing over the barrier, knocking it down, maneuvering around the side, or pushing through it. It’s like Superman to the rescue.
The exercise immediately triggered an empathic response with the girls. They were also more likely to solicit help from another person. When the girls showed distress, their mothers emerged from behind the barrier and picked them up. This is simply another example of what Sissy continues to talk about with girls- it’s all about relationship. Not just being in relationship, but being heard and understood in relationship. Females tend to be more process oriented. Males tend to be more action oriented.
We can play to these individual strengths in teaching Resourcefulness. Girls may be most resourceful when processing and working from the strength of relationship and collaboration. Boys tend to be action-driven or solution-focused. Our job becomes identifying different ways to nurture, affirm and validate those instincts as kids are progressing toward this milestone.
Just as with Perspective and Empathy, we invite you to view Resourcefulness as a muscle. As we’ve discussed, some kids are born with the muscle more developed. Other kids may not be as strong in problem-solving or conflict resolution. By nature, they aren’t as resilient or lacking in grit. We have to model and teach it first, then create opportunity to flex the muscle, however weak or strong it may be.
We all come up against roadblocks in life. Some kids encounter a roadblock and immediately think, “I’m going to figure out how to get over, under, around or through that wall.” Other kids see the roadblock and think, “I’ll never get around that. I might as well just lay down in the middle of the road and surrender.”
The roadblock may be lost homework, betrayal by a friend, not being chosen for a team, needing academic support, failing their driver’s test, having a chronic illness, scoring low on the ACT, being offered an illegal substance at a party, and the list goes on and on.
Check out our new book, Are My Kids on Track? for ten practical ideas for developing Resourcefulness in the kids we love. We even discuss the stumbling blocks kids face unique to gender and the building blocks to help them get there.