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Raising Boys

Updated on November 6, 2011

What Is It With Boys?

Boys are different - have you noticed?

What are the most important issues in raising boys?

What parenting advice will be the most useful for families with boys?

Why are boys vulnerable and how do we overcome this vulnerability?

Tips for Raising Boys

Raise your expectations, but acknowledge that making mistakes is a very good way to learn lessons.

Set boundaries and always be consistent. I taught in a boys' school for many years and at the beginning of each new intake, I would tell them about how important it was that they didn't mess around in the minibus while I took them swimming at the university pool. I told them that if they misbehaved, I would turn round at the next roundabout and come straight back to school. Inevitably, there was always one (or two) who tested out the threat, and I always turned around and came back to school. I had already prepared work for them to do instead of swimming - they never messed around in my minibus again. If you make a threat, make sure that you can carry it out.

Communicate with them often. Have dinner together and find out what is going on in their lives. Show an interest. Teach them the social skills to carry on a balanced conversation. Encourage them to ask about the other person.

Limit the time spent in front of the TV and computer games, (eg no TV on school nights). They are missing out on time spent with you, or doing other things such as playing sports and interacting with others.

Encourage them to share in the household chores. Make it an expectation that everyone shares in the running of the house.

Encourage their friends to come over to your house. Make it a happy welcoming place for them. Get to know their friends.

Spend lots of time together. Make time to organize family outings, holidays or even simple activities such as playing a game once the homework is done.

If you have more than one child, make sure that you make special time to be alone with them.

Give them your love - unconditionally. However they behave, you still love them. You might not like the behavior, but love the boy.

Some boys have difficulty getting organized and will invariably have wonderfully messy bedrooms, but they need step-by-step instructions in the form of lists about how to manage themselves and their schedules.

Provide strong role models for boys who are reluctant to read.

Tips for single mothers who are raising boys

1. Try not to have negative views about men. Remember he's going to be one, one day.

2. Boys need role models. That doesn't mean that the role model has to be a father. Even boys brought up in two parent families don't always have appropriate 'fathering', so don't get hung up on whether your boy is missing out on something. Just find someone who your boy can look up to.

3. Have a look out for boys' groups where he can get access to suitable role models. For instance, you may be able to find a scouting group, karate club or local boys club. Boys need to belong to a group of 'men' - it boosts their self-esteem.

4. Find ways that he can release physical energy. Even if he's not sporty, he still has a lot of energy to release. Give him an outlet for all that testosterone.

5. Don't criticise his father. Shouting 'your dad's a loser' from the rooftops isn't going to gain your boy's respect - it will only confuse him and he may resent you for it later. Remember that he loves him just as much as he loves you. It will do you more good in the long run if he sees you being respectful to the other party.

6. Find a 'kindly uncle' figure to talk to him at difficult times, or over difficult issues. It doesn't have to be a relative - but don't ask your boyfriend too early on in the relationship - your son needs stability wherever possible.

7. Don't expect your son to be 'the man around the house'. That's a big role and he doesn't need the responsibility too early.

8. Don't try to be the father as well as the mother. You don't need to. Accept the fact that there will be some things which he will need to learn which you can't teach him. He doesn't expect you to be a super-mum, just a mum.

9. Develop a support network. Ask for help. 99% of people in this world are kind and giving and want to help you. Why not come on over to my Cafemom support group called Resources for Parents. Just ask and see - we've been there.

What are your tips? Let me know and I will include them in the list.

Stephen Biddulph

If you have been lucky enough to get to one of Stephen Biddulph's seminars on Raising Boys, you will know, as I do, that his ideas open up a new world of understanding in the upbringing of our sons.

By the time he had visited us here in the London in the UK, two years ago, he said that he had given this particular seminar to more than 100,000 parents! The very fact that he pulls in audiences in such regular numbers exemplifies the claim that he is the No.1 expert on the subject.

His excellent book 'Raising Boys', which is featured in this lens, covers such topics as:

* How to raise boys to be happy, confident and kind.

* The three stages of Manhood (The gentle years: from birth to 6; Learning to be male: from 6 to 13; Becoming a man: from 14 and onwards)

* Testosterone - how it affects how boys behave

* How boys' brains are different. Understanding their vulnerabilities and how to overcome them.

* Relationships between boys and their mothers.

* The five essentials that a father provides and what to do if you are a single mum

* How to help boys to have a caring attitude to sex

* How to encourage the right values in sport

* Changes that schools need to make to make them good places for boys

Expert Resources from Stephen Biddulph

Would boys be better off being taught separately from girls in school?

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Did you know?

100% of the revenue from this lens goes to the Save the Children Fund.

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