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Oregon Family Magazine

Raising Boys – Tips to Make You Think

06/02/2011 ● By Anonymous
The differences between men and women are often discussed, ranted about, and written about (Mars and Venus.) It’s a common acceptance that men and women are typically polar opposites and how trying to understand the opposite gender is next to impossible. While it would be easier to simply accept this as fact, the truth remains, once parenthood becomes a reality, all gloves are off. Parents must then attempt to become experts on how to rear their children regardless of gender. An easy way to approach the task of raising boys is to put it in perspective. Besides wanting these young men to be smart, polite, confident, successful, law-abiding, intelligent citizens, mothers should try to raise their sons to be the type of man they’d want to marry, and fathers should try to raise sons to be the type of men they’d want their daughters, sisters or mother to marry.

In order to accomplish this task it helps to understand some of the challenges being faced by boys in today’s society. Everyday Challenges Faced by Boys Today and Ways to Overcome Them 1. Boys are more likely to be medicated to be quiet and less disruptive. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics “boys are four to five times more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” than girls. What’s a parent to do?

It is completely natural for boys to be active, loud and unruly with a rough and tumble demeanor. While boys are often referred to as aggressive, the truth is the majority are not. According to Michael Thompson, Ph.D., “all boys have normal aggressive impulses which they learn to control, only a small percentage are overly aggressive and have chronic difficulty controlling those impulses.” In these cases adults should carefully monitor play, however, it should be noted that all loud play should not be considered out of hand play.

The key is to allow time for boy play and set boundaries for acceptable types of play and appropriate settings. For example, it is fine to play hide and seek, but not fine to suggest your brother hide in the dryer, or playing rock star is great, but not during library time on school premises. Adults must be clear about the rules and their expectations and be consistent with their discipline if the rules are broken. Teachers and school administrators should also do what they can to allow time for recess. Children require multiple periods each day performing activities that will help them expel their excess energy, which in turn will allow them to better focus on the tasks presented to them.

2. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, boys score lower than girls in both grades and homework from elementary school through high school. Additionally, they are 30 percent more likely to flunk or drop out of school. Why do these statistics exist?

With boys being so active, if they are disruptive they are often disciplined by teachers in ways that remove them from their active learning environment. They can then begin to fall behind in their work. Also, research shows that many male students have a kinesthetic (hands-on) learning style preference. Since most school practice visual and auditory methods, those students who thrive in a hands-on environment can get lost and end up frustrated and bored. Parents and teachers need to work together to make sure boys do not continue to slip through the educational cracks. In addition to providing ways for them to be physically active during the school day, teachers should be allowed and encouraged to vary their teaching styles to include all styles of learning. This will provide equal learning opportunity for all students and hopefully re-ignite the spark in boys. Boys and girls have different interests and their spins on the same story will probably significantly vary. Teachers should encourage creativity and remember to be accepting of the different spins boys can place on topics. Parents and teachers should work together to encourage a love a reading. Reading allows for creativity, imagination, and provides a door to endless possibilities that would otherwise be unknown. Reading can provide boys with the tools they need to corral boredom and reconnect to their educations.

3. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 fatal car accidents involving boys occurred nearly three times more frequently than those with girl drivers. Additionally, nearly 75% of all juvenile delinquency is committed by boys, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

It is probably no surprise to parents just how reckless they can be, especially when compared to girls. However these statistics translate into more than just wanting to play Superman with a red cape and a tall structure, or daring a friend to commit some silly act. Boys love the thrill of adventure and excitement. However, it is up to parents to make sure they learn how to safely channel those tendencies. Allow them ample opportunity to race go-karts, ski or snowboard, visit amusement parks, bungee jump, etc. Those activities can offer then same thrill, but in a more controlled environment.

Idle minds and excessive free time provide ample opportunity for boys to get themselves in trouble. Parents should encourage boys to participate in activities that will help them expand their world. Whether the activity is a sport, organized activity like Boy Scouts or Big Brothers, or a learning activity like a school club, or community program like a youth group or church group, programs exist to help boys develop a sense of belonging while keeping them out of trouble.

4. According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) boys are more likely to successfully commit suicide than girls. The ratios are as follows: 10-14 age range 4:1, in the 15-19 age range 5:1, and the 20-24 age range 7:1. It is the 8th leading cause of death in young males.

Suicide is most often the result of depression. Boys are typically more reluctant to discuss their feelings than girls. Boys are also less likely to form the type of friendships girls develop, in which problems, slights, daily life, dreams, and goals are typically discussed freely.

Parents can educate their boys in becoming emotionally attached to those around them from birth. Demonstrate the value of forming long-lasting friendships and not corking emotions simply because of gender. If boys are shown the benefits of opening up to parents and close friends from a young age, they will likely continue to seek out like-minded cohorts as they mature. Men who can discuss their feelings, demonstrate emotion, recognize and participate in a healthy relationship are less lonely and less apt to get into trouble as they mature.

A Few Tips for Communicating with Boys:

  • Boys typically love to solve problems (think of MacGyver.) If a situation is posed as a third-person problem, boys will typically jump at the opportunity to get to the bottom of the problem provided they are given the necessary clues.
  • Food! Some of the best conversations often occur in the kitchen, not necessarily at meals times, but during food preparation or when assembling an impromptu midnight snack. Take advantage of opportunities to have a one-on-one eat/talk fest, and he’ll be learning some valuable kitchen skills at the same time.
  • Be clear about what you expect and what consequences may result. Boys respect honesty and respect clarity. While they may not enjoy being disciplined, they do respect consistency. They are typically hands-on and seem to respond quite well to hands-on and not passive parenting.
  • All children respond to their environments. Provide boys with the opportunity to observe men behaving in a manner you’d like him to emulate one day. Surround him with respectful, industrious, smart, ambitious, friendly gentlemen who are self-confident, emotionally available, and not afraid to be themselves. These role models do not have to be a birth Dad, but can be someone who is trustful, possess the desired qualities, and has a good rapport with the boy.
  • Remember that all boys are different and what works for some will not work for all. Compliments them freely, praise their accomplishments and embrace their individuality. The more acceptance they perceive they are receiving, the more open the lines of communication will become.
These are just a small sampling of challenges parents of boys may face. Strong role models, having caring adults to come to with problems, and simply knowing someone is interested in their concerns can do wonders for a young boy’s self-esteem. Boys are very different from girls, and while the nature versus nurture debate still rages, the fact remains that boys are typically very active and noisy, love hands-on games, activities and even school projects, and will probably never care quite as much about their appearance as girls – at least until it is time for them to start liking girls. By accepting their natural tendencies, encouraging their interests, and steering them towards ways to enhance their personal goals while building their self-esteem parents will do much to create a bright future for their sons.

Written By: Kim Green-Spangler B.S. Ed.  Kim is a freelance writer, columnist, research specialist, budding author, wife and mother. She has written hundreds of articles on topics specific to women and moms, exercise enthusiasts, small and home-based business owners and homeschoolers. She can be contacted at