It’s stating the obvious, but boys and girls are different. One of the biggest differences revolves around time and timing. Understand this and you’ll start to unravel the secret to successfully parenting boys – and reduce some of the frustration you feel when you compare your son with your daughters, or other people’s daughters. More importantly, you’ll be able to deliver the greatest gifts you can give to a boy. More about this later.
Here are three examples of how time and timing differs with boys, and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage:
1. The maturity levels of boys
Boys take longer to mature than girls. This is a source of great consternation in many families where the eldest is a boy preceded by a girl. If a boy’s sister is only a couple of years younger then there’s a good chance they are on a par academically and socially. First borns boys like to have a competency gap between themselves and those that follow. A younger sister (or brother) is maturing earlier can be a source of consternation leading many eldest boys to give up, or give their sister merry hell! Differing maturity rates affect boys’ school readiness, their transition to secondary school, and their into adulthood.
2. Motivating boys
Boys are more likely to live in the now than girls. A generalisation I know, but it’s true. Teenagers, in particular, live for the moment. The trick is to use this knowledge to your advantage. For instance, avoid lecturing your teenager about how his current behaviour is going to impact on his adulthood. A 15 year-old can’t see life beyond next week let alone when he’s 25. So get into his timeframe when trying to motivate, dissuade or persuade him. For instance, you’re more likely to instil good sleep habits into boys if you point out that a good night’s sleep will help them play football/guitar/surf/pick up girls than be better for their long-term health!
To successfully engage teenage boys show you are interested in their present lives, their friends and interest. This will give you permission to press them a little on their future ambitions and goals.
3. The ability of boys to focus
Ever noticed how some boys will work at diminished capacity on anything that’s not important to them? This happens around schooling a lot. Give them a project that’s due in a week and they’ll amble along for six days and then focus like a laser beam the night before it’s due (often after a great deal of panic or a brief mental meltdown!). One way to get boys to focus is shorten their deadlines. Give them two days, not two weeks to do something. Even better, shorten the deadline and give them a practical purpose (or a tangible reward if you can’t think of a good purpose) for doing something – “hand this work in tomorrow and you’ll get ten free minutes of free play!” Alternatively, if they drift along waiting until the last minute and then go into a mad panic, don’t sweat it. They may just be saving themselves for that big effort!
Time as a gift
The greatest gifts to give boys revolves around time. Most crave some one-on-one time, particularily with their dads, as long as it’s done in a way that’s relevant to their age.
There are two time aspects to consider:
- First, give them time to mature and develop. Don’t expect them to be what you want them to be on your timing. Most boys take their time growing up. It takes patience and time to grow a boy…sometimes a decade or two.
- The other aspect refers to communicating with boys. Adults who do best with young males have a way of getting into their timeframe. They can talk with them about what interests them now, what’s important to them now, what’s grabbing their attention now. This is relatively easy when your sons are under ten, but challenging when they are teenagers. You have to be a little cunning to get into a teenage boy’s timeframe. A parent who picks up a teenage boy from a party at midnight, just may have a better chance of getting into his timeframe and getting a window into what’s important compared to one who parents from a distance.
So time and timing are the keys! Give boys time to mature, give them your time and get into their time frames if you want to get on their wavelength.
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