There are a lot of clichés when it comes to raising boys or girls, often because of what's socially expected from each one, even in their early days.
We tend to associate bringing up boys with certain behaviours, like being more restless or less sensitive, but you need to go beyond those 'tags' if you want your son to be well-rounded.
Parenting boys, as it happens with girls as well, can be challenging, especially if we have trouble decoding their needs. That's why we want to provide you with a list of useful tips to help you out with raising boys. However, the differences on how we raise our children shouldn’t be determined by their gender, but by their personality. We talked extensively about this in our article about raising children: it’s difficult to get past gender stereotypes, and that could lead to our boy repressing certain aspects of his personality, so we decided to frame this notes towards challenging some of those stereotypes. However, we still encourage you to take a look on our article about raising girls and apply some of those tips too, if you consider they match your kid’s personality.
1- When raising boys, don't tell them off consistently
Some boys can be hectic and not give you a break, so they may need some discipline. However, parents often fall into the error of telling them off excessively, which is counterproductive for raising boys. Why? Because if they get consistently nagged about what they do, even when accidents happen and they aren't responsible for them, such kids may end up taking reprimands lightly. Why would they behave differently when knowing that they are going to be yelled at no matter what?
2- When raising boys, let them cry
If you’re wondering how to raise boys, one useful tip is to stop yourself from telling your little one that boys don’t cry, because the truth is, they do. Boys should be allowed to be sensitive, and be taught that being so is no “feminine” attribute. They will feel sad and frustrated sometimes, and they will need to cry it off. Let them!
3- Let their imagination run wild
We've been told that boys have to play with 'male toys', such as cars, action figures or videogames, but this is another social convention. If your child wants to play with 'girl toys', don't clip his wings. Toys are just toys! In fact, classifying them in ‘girl toys’ or ‘boy toys’ is just a result of what society has told us about what grown boys and girls should be doing – but we’ll agree that grown boys and girls should be able to do whatever they want, right? Instead, encourage him to play with whatever he chooses, so that he can be more open-minded, develop other feelings and let his imagination run wild. This is not about forcing, but stimulating him to embrace new ideas and concepts of having fun, which may help him deal with many situations in the future.
4- Give him tasks to do
You can help him develop responsibility skills faster than expected by giving him some simple tasks to accomplish. For example, if you have a pet, let him be in charge of feeding and taking care of it (under your supervision, of course!) with fixed schedules.
5- Burning off some calories
There's something about raising boys that you'll be well aware of by the time your son turns 4 years old: he'll become an inexhaustible source of energy. And raising boys also includes being aware of his needs! At that age, his levels of testosterone will double and he'll shift to a 'higher gear', so he'll run and jump pretty much wherever he goes. Don't try to keep him from releasing his huge amount of energy; what's more, find ways for him to burn off some calories and boast about his impressive motor movements at the same time. For instance, you could sign him up for sports teams or take him to the park and have a daily walk with him.
6- Talk to him
Gender stereotypes state that girls like to talk more than boys and that they communicate better. Well, we communicate if we are taught to do so, so when raising boys, sit down with him and talk about what he thinks and how he feels. The more you communicate with him, the more he’ll be able to deal with his own issues later in life.
7- Raising boys, and keeping their tummies content!
Being hungry can put all of us in a bad mood, and that also include boys. The difference is that kids are usually more active than adults, so they may need to recharge their batteries more often. Be sure to bring snacks with you, so you can give them to your child as soon as he's done at school. That may prevent him from acting up.
8- Read him stories
When raising boys, any activity that encourages their imagination will be welcomed. Spend time with him and read him stories (or invent them for him!) that serve to teach him important values that he will need later in life.
9- When raising boys, be in touch with their teachers
It's important that you get involved at school by having regular contact with your son's teacher. That way, you'll be able to know how he behaves out of his comfort zone and if he's developing the social skills that he'll eventually need. Also, keeping such a control over what he does or doesn't do at school will help you monitor aspects like his homework, problems with other kids and so on.
According to different studies, parents tend to have less physical contact with boys than with girls, which isn't fair at all. Guys need physical affection too. In fact, cuddles and kisses will make your child feel more secure and supported.
10 – Tell him how nice he looks
We tend to ask girls about their looks more than boys, which helps perpetuate the view that women care more than men about their looks. Boys like to feel handsome as well, and also have issues about their appearance later on, so when raising boys it is important to instil confidence about their looks as well.
As you can see, raising boys isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be difficult either. Sometimes, it's more about us wanting our kids to behave in a certain way, usually our way, than letting them explore who they are. You should gravitate towards affection, discipline and fun, but also allow room for your son to enjoy his real interests, no matter how 'boy-oriented' they are. Tastes and qualities are just that, tastes and qualities: they don’t make us more of a boy, or more of a girl.
Remember to go over to our notes on raising girls, and you will see that most of them will adapt to your boy as well!