Raising children is a blessing, but it’s also a huge responsibility. And whilst there is plenty of crossover in terms of handling the development of genders, there are differences too, and we’re going to look at how to handle boys. Whether you’re looking for behavioural advice or something more specific like potty training tips for boys, there isn’t a perfect way to do it, or a plan that fits everyone. Trust me, I’ve done it twice (and each time was VERY different) and these tips really helped.
Raising children is more of a case of ‘learn on the job’ a lot of the time, but a few solid tips will certainly help out. Here are six great ones. Keep in mind, I am a brainy book-loving artistic woman who was just a smaller version of myself when I was younger so I make some generalizations here about boys based on my experience only. This does not make a different experience any less real or valid though.
1. Be affectionate
Girls are easy to cuddle. Boys never sit still long enough. These two stereotypes are not only not necessarily true or helpful, but are also no reason to skip the affection with boys. One of the most vital parts of raising boys is to give them a secure and loving environment, so get in as many cuddles and kisses as you can… even if you have to steal them sometimes! One game we play is ‘toll keeper’ when my sons block a doorway and make me pay a ‘toll’ with a hug, kiss, or joke (their choice).
2. Let them show emotion
Emotion plays a huge role in development, so let it flow. As long as it’s not dangerous, overly physical or majorly distressing, it’s okay for boys to vent their frustrations. The more you give them room to do so, the easier it’ll be for them to develop coping strategies – with your help, of course. The moment I took this photo of my younger son, he was feeling some heavy emotions after feeling like he couldn’t keep up with the big kids playing. I kid you not, Elton John’s ‘Don’t let the sun go down on me’ was playing in the background for the mood to be set. He felt his emotions fully in a safe place with us nearby to offer him hugs when he was ready.
3. Praise the positive, water down the negative
Something that’s certain in parenthood is that there will be plenty of times that your boy does something that really winds you up. Whether it’s breaking an item, doing something ridiculous or just being irritating, pick your battles wisely. It’s about knowing when to step in when things go wrong and when to leave it – balance is key.
Whilst you don’t want jump down their throat every time something goes wrong, do lay on the praise when they do something right. Whether it’s implementing potty training tips for boys and then celebrating their attempts, or general good behaviour/achievements, reinforce the action with plenty of praise.
4. Encourage their interests
It could be football. It could be music. It could be ballet. It could be fine art. The point is, whatever your boy shows interest in, give him the chance to explore for his own enjoyment and development. And don’t try to live vicariously through him. Interestingly, I supported my older son’s interest in mathematics and science ardently, but secretly longed for him to share my love of art and drawing. Then last year, he discovered his love of drawing!
5. Encourage interaction
It’s a bit of a sweeping statement, but girls tend to develop close relationships with friends more easily than boys. That’s why it’s good to expose them to as much social interaction as you can, early on. That helps them deal with different situations, communicate more effectively, and hopefully find friends that they really connect with sooner. It can be challenging and very hot/cold with siblings, but these are their first friends and a great source of comfort and strength. I love seeing my sons play together and with their friends.
6. Let them run free
Another generalization here, but boys do tend to run wild a little more than girls, both in a good and a bad way. Don’t try to stifle their energy, though – embrace the high revving engine and give him plenty of opportunities to blow off steam. From a practical standpoint, we try to map out playgrounds and parks on trips and long drives to give them a chance to stretch their legs and run free.
Whether you’ve got a girl or a boy, raising your child is amazing, but brings with it a raft of challenges. Put these tips for raising boys into practice and you might just find that things become easier.