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Raising Mighty Boys

27 October
Posted by:
Michael Grose

Raising boys is still a hot topic in Australia and other parts of the world. It appears to me that those adults who do best raising and teaching boys have a significant understanding and appreciation of what makes boys tick.
Here are seven keys to successfully raising well-adjusted boys, regardless of whether you are a mother of father, sole parent or in a dual parent relationship:

No. 1: You must like them.

Approval is at the heart of working successfully with boys. They will walk over broken glass or hot coals if they sense you like them. In a sense this notion holds many of them back as many boys will only work for a teacher if they like them and close down on learning if they sense the teacher doesn’t like them.

Take the time to nurture a relationship with your sons or the boys that you interact with. Some boys like to talk; others like to share an activity; some like you as an adult to do something for them; others are very kinaesthetic and love to be touched, cuddled and hugged; while some just love gifts and mementoes. Work out the relational preferences of the males in your life and make sure you match these.

No. 2: Most boys just want to blend in

Boys are group-oriented by nature. They want to fit in. Boys tend to play group games and form themselves into structured friendship groups. Boys generally don’t want to stand out from their crowd.

Don’t put them down in front of their friends and understand that they may make poor friendship choices rather than be in a group of one – by themselves. They prefer the ‘wrong friends’ rather than no friends at all.

No 3: They are hierarchical and they like to know who is in charge.

Boys like limits and boundaries as they make them feel safe and secure. They also like to know that someone is going to enforce those rules so don’t be afraid to be ‘in charge’, although you don’t have to use the same authoritarian methods as perhaps your own parents used.

No 4: Many boys hide behind a mask

Some boys, eight years of age and older, wear a mask to protect themselves from being hurt or to portray a tough guy image. This mask can take many guises including; ‘tough nut’, ‘cool guy’ and ‘class clown’. They will attempt to communicate with that mask.

Refuse to communicate with a mask. Make boys feel comfortable, joke with them, even tickle them but get them to drop the mask if you really want to get through to them.

No. 5: Loyalty is an incredibly strong driver for boys.

Understand that a boy’s loyalty to friends, family, teachers and cause are key male drivers and you go along way to understanding the male psyche. They are incredibly influenced by their peers, which can hold many of them back. It takes a brave boy to get too far ahead of the pack so they often hold each other back when it comes to achieving.

Loyalty to others can get boys into trouble. Call a boy’s sister an insulting name and you are in for fight. Insult his friends and you are asking for trouble.

No 6: Use short-term goals to motivate them.

Want to know how to motivate a boy to learn? Just make sure he can see some type of benefit in the task he will work hard to get it. You need to make sure the benefit is tangible and short-term though for many as they are less likely, compared to girls, to work when there is no foreseeable gain for them.

No. 7: A boy’s brain matures differently than a girl’s brain

In the first five year’s of life a girl’s brain is busy developing fine motor skills, verbal skills and social skills, which are all highly valued by parents and teachers. Meanwhile, a boy’s brain is busy developing gross motor skills, spatial skills and visual skills. These are all handy hunting skills. So boys often start school with a distinct disadvantage when it comes to learning and fitting in.

There is no doubt that raising boys can be a challenge for many parents. It appears to me that those adults who do best raising boys have a significant understanding and appreciation of what makes boys tick. They also adjust their methods to suit boys’ thinking, behaviour and learning styles.

For more information about raising boys check out  Raising Mighty Boys.
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