Do Boys Talk Later Than Girls?
So the question’s been raised, “Do boys talk later than girls?” If that’s the case, then I don’t need to be concerned if my little guy is not meeting the communication milestones, right?
WRONG! Even though in many cases boys start talking later than girls, being a boy is NOT a reason that a child has a language delay. Because your little one is a boy is not a reason to assume that your late talker doesn’t need some helpful intervention to get him on track.
If you want to know what milestones your child, whether a boy or girl, should be meeting, we offer a FREE Communications Milestone Checklist for you to download.
What Does the Research Say About Boy vs Girl Language Development?
Research states that within the range of average, girls tend to be on the earlier end and boys on the later end. But it is important to understand that while boys might lag a bit, BOTH boys and girls should meet communication milestones. If they do not meet these milestones, they may require some speech and language intervention.
Why do girls speak earlier than boys?
We’re glad you asked! According to Great Speech, gender difference plays only a minor role in determining whether a child may be delayed in speech and language skills. Many factors contribute to the speed at which these skills are acquired and developed. Some of the reasons girls might develop faster than boys are:
The Language Gene
A gene known as FOXP2 is important for speech and language development. Studies confirm that this “language gene” is found in higher levels in females. While more research is needed, scientists agree that this gene likely has some impact on speech, but nurture, or the environment, might be a greater contributing factor.
Many studies have been made on the neurological and cognitive differences between boys and girls, particularly on the role of sex hormones in the development of speech and language skills. The female hormone estrogen “has been linked to enhanced verbal and social skills, as well as promoting the growth of certain areas of the brain that are directly related to language development.” Interestingly, testosterone was found “to have an opposite effect, affecting these same ‘language centers’ inversely, especially those related to social and language development and empathy in children.” Source
Nature vs. Nurture
We agree that boys and girls have biological developmental differences, but environmental factors, or “nurture,” is an important consideration when discussing speech and language development of boys and girls.
Many people alter their behavior and communication depending on whether they are interacting with a boy or a girl. Boys are often encouraged to engage in more physical activities while girls are engaged in more social and domestic forms of play. This can have an impact on speech and language development.
Certainly there are other factors that contribute to communication delays, but these are beyond the scope of our conversation. For further information, visit Great Speech.
It is safe to say that both biological differences and environmental influences play a significant role in speech development of boys and girls.
What Can I Do to Support My Child’s Language Development?
Engaging in role play, imaginative play, physical play, etc., are critical to supporting your child’s language development. Have fun together and be present!
Promoting reading is so important! Taking the time to read age-appropriate books together every day will encourage progress in speech and language.
Including your little one in conversation is incredibly beneficial in enhancing natural development in speech and language.
Seeking professional help if your boy or girl is not reaching communication milestones is the best thing you can do for them! Not only do we offer a Milestones Checklist, we’ve also created an online course Talk on Track to give you simple and effective strategies to help support your child’s language development. Sign up today!
To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you!