Raising kids is one tough endeavour! When it comes to boys and girls there are some significant differences that affect how we parent them. So, what is different about boys and what should we do about it? Here we provide some important information and advice about raising boys.
Introduction to Raising Boys
Raising boys sure is a delightful adventure! As an early childhood teacher, mother of a son, and a sister to my brother, I understand the joyful chaos that comes with daily life when you have young men within the classroom or household. Whilst both genders certainly require an equal amount of love and nurturing – there are some very distinct differences when it comes to bringing up boys as opposed to girls. Knowing and understanding these differences can help make the journey of raising boys just a little bit smoother.
How is raising a boy different from a girl?
Although the debate is strong surrounding nature vs nurture, when it comes to the differences between boys and girls, studies have determined that there are many profound differences between the two genders. Most experts seem to agree that girls tend to reach developmental milestones, such as talking, ahead of boys. They believe that this is a result of the hormones that baby boys have – namely the testosterone. It is thought that the higher levels of testosterone that baby boys have can cause them to be more easily stressed than girls and harder to calm down.
The differences between boys and girls become more obvious as they reach school-age and beyond. Young boys typically prefer to play structured games in large groups and they just love engaging in competition. Comparatively, girls often prefer to play in smaller groups and enjoy intimate conversations and highly social activities. In short – boys love action and girls prefer interaction. Of course this is not always the case, rather looking at a majority.
Interestingly, studies have revealed that boys can be more emotional than girls. They can become angry and frustrated, throw tantrums and also take longer to calm down after becoming upset. Sometimes we forget that boys require just as much (if not more) soothing and support as girls.
Steve Biddulph, author of the acclaimed book ‘Raising Boys’ emphasises the importance of challenging traditional ideas about gender and encourages adults to provide opportunities for boys to express their feelings and emotions from birth. Whilst the developmental stages between boys and girls can differ, it is important that parents ensure that they are approachable for their boys to talk to them so that they can support, role-model and mentor them to grow into lovely young men. You can find some of Steve’s key messages here; https://www.understandingboys.com.au/steve-biddulphs-4-key-messages-for-raising-boys/
How do I raise my son to be a good man?
Parents have an important responsibility in teaching their sons how to grow into strong and responsible men. In cases where a father is absent, at least one positive male role model can help a boy learn what it means to be a good man in today’s world. But what does it mean to be a ‘good’ man and how does this develop across each age and stage of development? The following article provides some great advice for raising boys as they grow and has been based upon research and information from parenting experts. https://www.firstfiveyears.org.au/child-development/raising-boys-how-to-nurture-gentle-sons
You can also find some great ideas and information for raising boys in Aaron Gouveia’s book titled ‘Raising Boys to Be good Men’. This resource is available as an audiobook here: Raising Boys to Be Good Men Audiobook | Aaron Gouveia | Audible.com.au
What to know about raising a boy?
After reading what the experts have to say about raising boys and through my own experiences, I have learned a few key things about supporting my son to thrive as he grows. Here are my 10 favourite tips for raising boys:
1. Focus on building a strong relationship with him – Close, secure relationships will provide an environment in which your boy is able to thrive.
2. Foster Empathy – Helping your son to develop a sense of compassion and empathy will build understanding and care for others.
3. Focus on effort rather than outcomes – Acknowledging and celebrating your boy’s effort will help them learn to have a go at challenges and develop a growth mindset.
4. Encourage his interests – Allow your son to follow his interests and don’t limit his access to particular toys or resources. Remember that playing with dolls will help him learn to be nurturing – and that’s a great thing!
5. Give him responsibilities – Providing your boy with some chores and encouraging him to help out in the home will help to develop his confidence and self-esteem.
6. Be a positive role model – Encourage your son by showing him how you want him to behave.
7. Set boundaries – All boys need limits and these can be set in a way that is age-appropriate and kind.
8. Encourage communication – Ask questions and be interested in your son’s life. This is essential for developing a relationship that is loving and supportive.
9. Show affection – Don’t be afraid to hug your son and tell him that you love him every day.
10. Be involved in his life – Spending time with your son is the best way to build a strong and close relationship.
How much does it cost to raise a boy?
Having a child can certainly be a costly endeavour. According to a government study that was conducted in 2018, parents will spend at least $140-$170 per week raising a child. However, this cost is a baseline and it can certainly be higher for some parents depending on where they live and what their lifestyle entails.
Fortunately, the cost of raising a boy is no different to the cost of raising a girl. The biggest variances tend to come down to choices that parents make in terms of private or public schooling, private or public healthcare and the kinds of leisure, recreation and holiday activities that the family engages in. Really, the answer to this question is ‘how long is a piece of string’? A frugal parent of 5 children might indeed spend less than a parent who has one child. It all comes down to personal choice. If you would like to know more about the cost of raising children in Australia, check out the following link: ‘Baby bust’: This is how much it costs to raise a child in Australia (thenewdaily.com.au)
Summary on Raising Boys
When parenting any child, it is important to remember that each is an individual and will be different in their own way – regardless of gender. Whilst young boys can be ‘busy’, they still have the same needs for affection and support as girls. Being an emotionally available parent who invests in their child by spending quality time with them on a regular basis will help form a strong relationship to guide your son through the good times and the bad times. Remember – you are not just raising a son; you are impacting future generations through him. Be kind. Be loving. Be present. Your son deserves it!
You can read my article on Raising Girls here, as a comparison.