Language skills are more important in boys than girls, to help them exercise self-control and to achieve in school, reports a researcher, leading a study at a Michigan State University.
Thus, Claire Vallotton, MSU assistant professor of child development has suggested that more emphasis should be placed on encouraging boy toddlers to "use their words" - instead of unruly behaviour - to solve problems.
"It shouldn't be chalked off as boys being boys. They need extra attention from child-care providers and teachers to help them build language skills and to use those skills to regulate their emotions and behaviour," said Vallotton.
The study is the first to suggest language skills have a bigger impact on boys' self-regulation than on girls'.
The researchers examined data on children as they aged from 1 to 3 and their mothers who participated in the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation study.
Juts like previous study, the researchers found that language skills - specifically the building of vocabulary - help children regulate their emotions and behaviour and that boys lag behind girls in both language skills and self-regulation.
What was surprising was that language skills seemed so much more important to the regulation of boys' behaviour, said Vallotton.
While girls overall seemed to have a more natural ability to control themselves and focus, boys with a strong vocabulary showed a dramatic increase in this ability to self-regulate - even doing as well in this regard as girls with a strong vocabulary.
The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.