A son brings endless joy and occasional trouble to your life. They can be sweet and caring or mischievous depending on the day. Prepare yourself for all the unique aspects of raising boys with our advice.
General rules of thumb
Dr Anna Cohen, Sydney’s leading Clinical Child Psychologist from Kids & Co. has written a whole article on how to raise boys into good men. She agreed to share with us a few of the main points you should always keep in mind.
“Some basic things to remember:
• Recognise boys’ desire to live in the moment, their inability and/or unwillingness to plan their lives;
• Never underestimate the power of peer pressure for boys as they bridge to adolescents (9 and on);
• It’s important to get mothers off the bridge of adolescents and father/father figures onto it;
• Boys like clear boundaries.They have to be able to see and/or feel the consequences of doing, or not doing something, before it becomes real enough to matter and to motivate them.”
Find the entire article here.
Embrace his energetic side
Finding ways to release pent up energy for young boys is paramount to their ability to concentrate in structured environments such as school. Teach him the spaces where he’ll need to practice quiet behaviour - like the classroom or at the grocery store. Providing spaces for him to let loose, such as an at-home playground, will help you justify the times when you need him to engage a lower gear.
Taking a back seat can be good
We can’t imagine a parent who enjoys watching their child in difficulty. But there are times when allowing them to do things for themselves, especially if they’re difficult, leads to greater strength. Relationship coach Megan Tuohey explains in more detail.
“The thing about life is that to live is to struggle. Everyone struggles. We often rebel against the discomfort, shutting down, avoiding or dismissing the opportunity. Trying to stay still, which of course, is not a long term option. We must be able to live with and work with, struggle. And yet, we often have trouble with idea. Sometimes we want others to do it for us. This concept reminds me of the idea of helping a butterfly emerge from the cocoon, the very act of struggle brings strength. In fact, if you assist the butterfly to emerge, it's often not strong enough to survive.
So it is for us, so it is for our children. Just as it is sometimes hard for us to struggle, we can find it hard to watch children struggle and often we intervene. Sometimes this is highly appropriate particularly when we are scaffolding them to help them learn themselves rather than doing it for them. It's unhelpful, however, when we don't allow them to experience struggle and then succeed. This is how children build resilience, and strength and internal fortitude. When we rob them of the chance to struggle, we may lose an opportunity to support them through to strength.”
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Let them learn in their own way
Young boys tend to be less cautious than girls. They take risks and learn through experimentation. Allow them to experiment with safe pretend play toys that encourage their imaginative side. Watch them play and see what their toys can do; it may not look like what you think the toy was for but this is where they will develop creativity and innovation for their future.
Learning to handle aggression
Caroline McMahon is the co-founder of Caroline’s Angels who provide support in sleep and toilet training, settling and behaviour of babies and young children. Having raised two sons of her own she shares the methods that worked for her.
“Rule setting is a great way for young boys to manage their feelings and what is expected of them both at home and school, setting them up to be great men.
For example, setting the rule of " Keep your hands and feet to yourself" is letting our boys know what is expected of them.
Boys need very clear boundaries of where they sit is in so many areas. Telling them not to punch, or hit or kick is not what they should do, but by telling them what they should do is often more helpful and the becomes a choice they make for their own behaviour.
I implemented this rule with my own feisty sons then saw as they become teenagers struggling with their own emotions and anger, especially in a heated discussion regarding their behaviour and my expectations of them. That despite their rage, they were able to keep their hands by their side, automatically by now knowing to keep their hands and feet to themselves.
By setting up a rule as young boys I was able to guide and reinforce without needing to yell and smack them to get them to understand this concept. Each time I see the devastating effects of a 'King Hit Punch" I am saddened to think that perhaps that young man did not have a patient parent there in their younger life to teach them this simple but life long rule that would carry on to helping them have the strength to resist the urge to strike out.”
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There’s no doubt you’ll raise a wonderful son. You’ve already taken the first step - seeking out advice that will help him and you flourish in the family.