by Abbi Koko, from Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas
Parenting a little boy can be a lot like trying to maintain order during a natural disaster: chaotic and dangerous. They are full of energy, adventure, and curiosity. Boys are subjected to all forms of parenting styles, ideas from different parenting books, and advice from parents of all generations. Where does the bad advice end and the good begin? Here are five good tips for nurturing your growing child.
1. Don’t expect little boys to sit still and be quiet for too long.
Asking your little boy to sit still or to be quiet is asking for disappointment. He might be able to sit still and be quiet for a short period of time, but longer stretches of quiet time are against his nature. Instead, encourage your little one to do something productive with his energy, and make things fun! Perhaps you can create a competition to see who can clean up the most blocks, or maybe you could have a “dust off” and challenge your little one to dust more areas than you. Understand that still and quiet might be appealing to you, but they certainly are not appealing to your little guy.
2. Let your young man make mistakes without rescuing him.
This is hard for many parents. Parents want what is best for their children, and sitting back while they make mistakes and feel the consequences can feel cruel. But it’s not. Young men need to learn that their actions have consequences. If they forget to study for a test, don’t rescue them by offering an excuse or requesting an extension from their teacher. For young men to develop, they need to experience disappointment, and they must learn to monitor and track their own behaviors.
3. Openly talk about changes that happen during puberty, and celebrate changes when they do occur.
One of the hardest parts of being a parent can be talking about things that are challenging to discuss. Changes and desires in puberty often feel uncomfortable to talk about. By keeping the discussion open and by celebrating changes as they occur, boys are less likely to feel shameful and are better able to accept the changes as they happen.
4. Understand that arguing isn’t always what it seems to be.
Sometimes it seems like a growing son just wants to argue about everything. He puts up a fight about doing chores, about how parents dress, and about rules he feels are unfair. While some of this may be what he is truly feeling, some of it may not be what it seems. Arguing and butting heads with parents is one way that young men develop their individuality. This is a time when they are becoming their own person, and they often want to fight everything that feels as though it is holding them back from becoming completely distinct. Listen to what your son says, and offer suggestions and compromises that might help him. If he doesn’t like the clothes you wear when you pick him up from school, offer to park out of eyesight and have him walk to meet you. Maybe the issue isn’t your appearance, but rather, a desire to be separate and individual.
5. Pray for, and with, your son through all ages and stages of development.
Nothing we do is more significant than teaching our children the power and importance of prayer. Not only are we showing our boys that they have a heavenly Father who cares deeply for them, but we are also showing them how to react to and prepare for difficult and joyous events in their future. Start early, and keep the traditions going.
Are you looking for a parenting book that offers tangible advice about bringing up a boy through every phase of development? These tips were taken from some of the topics discussed in the book Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas. Learn more, and get the book here!
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