Guess What? Boys Are NOT As Organized As Girls!

Here we go with the adolescent brain again. Oh well, the more you know about it, the better off you’ll be when yours finally get there. It’s important because when it comes to the brain and behavior, there is a lot to know.

Between the two of us, we’ve had four teenaged boys and believe us when we tell you that they are not exactly the most organized beings on the planet.

In many ways adolescent boys can be amazingly mature and responsible — no question about it. BUT when it comes to getting things together (including homework assignments) they are often a little slow on the uptake.

We remember looking at our son’s rooms during adolescence and musing that perhaps a bomb had somehow gone off in there when we were busy getting dinner ready. It can be a little scary. And if you take a look at their backpacks or homework assignments, it ‘s pretty much the same thing.

But it turns out that it’s not actually their fault (not completely, anyway). According to Anna Homayoun, author of That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week, recent research has shown that the part of the brain devoted to multi-tasking does not develop as quickly in boys as it does in girls. And guess what? In order to do well in school, you must be able to multi-task. That really explains a lot.

So it turns out that organizational skills must be learned and practiced much more by the guys than the girls. And here’s where moms (and dads) can really lend a hand. To help those dudes get their acts together, Ms. Homayoun suggests that —

  • they have an organized space in which to study that is permanent and free from technological distractions like cell phones, ipods, instant messaging, television, etc.
  • they have a homework planner and binders for each academic subject
  • homework time is scheduled and done at the same hour each day, no excuses allowed
  • time is set aside each week for the two of you to go through their backpacks and homework folders in order to get rid of the junk and take notice of the remaining to-do items

Now that’s not to say that these strategies won’t be valuable for your daughters, too. They will, but just keep in mind that the boys will need them more.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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