The nature of boys
Lots of young boys are little bundles of energy who seem to be forever on the go. They love the rough and tumble of physical activity, they can be very noisy and messy and often seem more boisterous than girls, but they are also very lovable and great fun.
Boys are physically stronger than girls and can be very competitive, so they are ideally suited to physical activity such as sport. Therefore it is good to encourage them to be active and help them to channel all that excess energy. Too often, boys are discouraged from following their natural instinct, which is to investigate, explore and compete.
There is often a misconception that because of the nature of boys and their tendency to be more aggressive, they are less sensitive and less caring than girls. However if boys are taught about emotions and have positive role models that show caring behaviour, then they will be equipped with the tools they need to develop into a compassionate, empathetic human being.The changing roles of the sexes
Boys growing up in today's world are faced with many pressures that previous generations didn't have to deal with. Whereas up until the 1940's male and female roles were clearly defined, this is not the case anymore. Men are no longer seen as the main breadwinner, women are doing jobs that at one time would have been considered only suitable for males.
Women may be earning higher salaries than their partners, and their domestic roles have merged.
Men nowadays will often shop, cook and clean up whereas this used to be traditionally seen as the woman's role.
As a result, women today can be independent, successful and very confident. This in turn can make young men feel emasculated. We hear women say, 'We don't need men anymore', which makes me feel it has never been so important to raise boys who feel valued, confident and ready to take their place in the world as successful adults, partners and fathers.The male's perspective
As a man, you must take the lead role in bringing up boys. A young boy is more likely to become obedient when the rules are enforced by the male of the family because their instinct detects the difference between male and female dominance. This isn't to say a female cannot show dominance of course, but if it is absent, a child can easily become out of control.
If you are the female in a single parent family then you must take on the male role in its entirety if you wish to raise boys correctly. Remember, a lad can still detect the motherly instinct behind all your bravado, so you must stay strong and resilient.
It has to be said that parents have a compulsory duty to bring their children up correctly.
It isn't fair on the child or the community in which they live in if they neglect this responsisibility.
When things go wrong because of the child's misbehaviour, the parents can often hide away from the consequences, but the child and the community cannot.
As the undisciplined child grows up and creates mayhem for themselves and everyone around them, the parent who is ultimately responsible for all these problems, finds themselves having to bear the repercussions of their negligence.
All children need to know the boundaries of what they can or cannot get away with, but this is especially true for boys. They can be very testing and always pushing at these boundaries and you must push them back harder when they do. You won't be doing yourself any favours if you fail at this because they will know that if they push hard enough, they will get away with it, and win.
The end result is an out of control child who may grow up to be an out of control adult.
Don't be afraid to discipline them because you think they will hate you, if you do it right, they won't.
Show them your bad side when they are bad, and show them love and your good side when they are good.
If you fail here it's not fair on the child, or yourself.
No child wants to be out of favour with their parents and this is where you have a key advantage.
If you have fun with them, show you love them and give them treats, they will miss them dearly when you take them away.
This is your leverage, take away what suits the crime and don't give it back until they have admitted defeat. This might sound cruel but it's more cruel not to teach a child obedience, after all, what kind of adult will they be without learning the rules of discipline?
They would expect to do, and get, anything they want without question or reprisal.
Start with lower level punishments first. This way you will have more ammo if you have to up the game.
For instance, remove their sweets and if they show too much resistance, threaten them with early to bed and no TV if they don't stop whinging. When they know they can't mess with you because your word is final, they will see the line and be too frightened to cross it. Why would they? They'll think............I've lost me sweets!.........if I don't shut up they'll empty me bedroom!
One tricky area when disciplining a child is that the punishment must be upheld by both parents, if it isn't it's doomed to failure. The weaker parent can easily undo the work that the other parent is struggling to enforce. The child will spot this weakness straight away and play on it, trying out different methods to gain ground and get what they want.
The plan in this situation is for the parents to discuss the punishment regimes and come to an agreement on how to enforce them. The result will probably end up with the weaker parent biting their lip and hiding when the punishments are under way, this is the best thing to do, and it works. Remember! You must be strong.
If your child is particularly difficult to discipline, despite your best efforts, you should take a closer look at their diet. E-numbers and chemicals found in a lot of processed foods and sweets can play havoc with the behaviour of some children. You can find some useful advice on these topics in the E-numbers, Diet and Mood Trait sections of this site.
Gaining the trust and respect of your child is one of the most important goals to achieve as a parent.
If you want your teenagers to treat you with respect then you must earn that respect.
Never underestimate the power of this.
When a child respects you, they are much more likely to listen to and act on your advice. You can find more detail on this subject in the Parents and Teenagers section of this site.
If you did your work well in bringing up your boy(s) in their younger years, you will have a much easier task raising them through the difficult times of teens and puberty. As they move into puberty and testosterone starts to rise, their priorities, and so behaviour, takes on a new identity. Awareness of the opposite sex and insecurities about their appearance become their main concerns. This rise in testosterone can often trigger aggressive and boisterous behavior, and this must be nipped in the bud.
They must be taught to control all the negative emotions their changing hormones bring.
We, as men, have no right to wander about giving grief to everyone around us just because our testosterone has ramped up.
Teaching your boy to understand that he is becoming a man, and how and why testosterone affects his body as it does, will help him deal with the negative side of his behaviour.
In other words, teach him to recognise when testosterone is pushing him into unreasonable behaviour, and teach him how to show restraint during these times.
Don't be afraid or embarrassed about having intimate conversations about the opposite sex or his manly equipment and the facts of life. He needs to learn all this from a reliable source, and this is where your bonding and mutual respect really begins. He will be less likely to make mistakes because he will come to you first whenever he has any concerns or problems.
This is simply because he knows he can talk to you on any level. You will tell him honestly, he can confide in you, and you give him strength in his time of need. This is the bond at work.
Insecurity at some point is inevitable during puberty and you must give them confidence in themselves without lying to protect their feelings. Young adults are not stupid, if they are not attractive, they will know it. If you tell them they are, although they want to believe it, they will know that you are lying and you run the risk of losing their respect.
Whether they are attractive or not, tell them that beauty in a human being comes from within, and this is the quality that attracts others to you over all else.
- Teach them to develop an attractive personality
- Nobody likes a person who tells lies, is selfish or greedy, so these traits are to be avoided at all costs
- Teach them to be kind, considerate and generous to others without being gullible
- Warn them to be aware of those who take advantage of people with a kind nature and not to buy friendship
- Teach them to recognise their strengths and work on their weaknesses to make them a better person
- Instill in them the importance of personal hygiene, lads can be sloppy in this area
As a dad, the relationship with a well adjusted teenage son can be fun and rewarding.
Learn to share common interests and activities, and look forward to the day when you can both spend time together with a pint or two.
Young people often get labelled as having a bad "attitude" whether it's true or not. If you're young this can be very frustrating. So don't be too quick to condemn your child just because they seem different.
Young people hate to feel they've been treated unfairly and when this is their perception they can become very argumentative, even rude!
As parents we don't always allow for our children's growing maturity and can still treat them like a "baby" which causes friction.
During the teenage years it's common to think we know so much when in fact we don't.
It's a time when we are just beginning to find out about life, in arrogance we think that we have invented new ways to do everything and older people are beyond this understanding, however we don't see this at the time.
It only becomes crystal clear as we learn more in later life and reflect on the things we said and did as adolescents.
The Attitude questionnaire may be helpful in revealing problems in this area.
One of the most challenging problems parents face today are keeping their children free of recreational drug taking.
Drug abuse is all around them and peer pressure is immense.
There is always the temptation to think "its okay I'll try it once.......I don't have to take it again".
If it was that simple we wouldn't have so many lives ruined by drug taking as we have today. Teaching them correctly about any addictive substance whether it be alcohol, drugs or tobacco is essential. You may think these substances are fine if they can be controlled, but how many people can really control them?
You have some chance as a social, periodical drinker of avoiding addiction, which can actually enhance your life by helping you unwind and relax. But drugs are a different beast which need to be viewed with great suspicion for their ability to secretly destroy lives.
Alcohol has its roots in socialising and bringing people together, and if used that way, it can be very beneficial. If you appreciate this type of socialising, teach your children the benefits and pitfalls of alcohol, when to do it, and when to call it a day. Tell and show them examples of what will happen to them if they abuse it.
I am aware that some recreational drugs are used for relief by individuals with health problems, but I cannot recommend the use of any drug to anyone because I have witnessed their destructive power first hand on numerous occasions.
I believe that you should gather together enough bad drug case histories and frighten the kids into avoiding them at all costs. Give them nightmares, it's better than visiting them in rehab.
If they or anyone needs drugs or alcohol on a frequent basis just to feel nice there is probably something wrong elsewhere, in their lives or metabolism. In this case alcohol and drugs don't cure the problem, they just paper over the cracks, and when they wear off their problem returns.
If you have a child that has a reliance on alcohol or drugs, you should look at their nutrition and general health.
They may be a highly strung and nervous individual, they maybe schizophrenic or highly sensitive and artistic.
In these cases drugs and alcohol gives them peace and tranquility for a tortured mind, but its not the answer. It would be such a waste to let them risk destroying their lives when they may have so much to offer the world.
Help them with kindness and understanding, and if you feel that it's beyond your capability, refer them for professional help. You won't regret it, and in time nor will they.The female's perspective
Fathers have a vital role in the raising of any child but they are particularly needed by their sons. We live in a world where many single parents raise their children alone and do a wonderful job, but in an ideal situation a boy has his father as well as his mother to bring him up.
If this isn't possible, a boy should try to have regular contact with another caring, supportive male role model. For women who have had no significant male relatives in their lives and are raising their son alone, it can be difficult to address some of their son's needs in the same way a father could.
When raising a son, there are areas that a woman can feel ill equipped to help him with, especially during puberty. A boy and his father, however, can feel happy discussing "male" topics.
It is important for boys to feel the strength of an adult male's influence, for example when it comes to discipline. They can be difficult to contain and a male's involvement can be invaluable here.
Men can suffer from feelings of insecurity more than women, and It is therefore important to instill confidence in our young men and develop their self esteem.
This is more important than ever because of recent changes in the perception of the male's role in society. In recent years, the media seems to have encouraged a negative stereotype of our young men, portraying them as unintelligent, weak and easily manipulated.
We see a tirade of 'comic' portrayals of the male gender, particularly in TV advertising, in a similar fashion to that which used to be aimed at 'the dumb blonde'. If the same type of 'humour' was aimed at women now I think there would be a backlash, but because it's aimed at men it seems to be readily accepted. This seems wrong and unfair.Some helpful tips
- Praise and encourage good behaviour and achievement
- Listen to what they have to say and respect their opinion. Even if you think they're totally wrong, don't be negative or critical, just explain why you don't agree
- Don't refuse to talk about sensitive topics because you feel embarrassed or self conscious. It is much better to hear the truth from you than some half truth or inaccurate information from someone else
- Don't compare them to other siblings, or peers in a negative way. For example avoid saying, "Why can't you be like".......or......."You're hopeless, you're stupid," and words to that effect
- Spend time with them. Don't make the mistake of thinking that buying things for them can ever be a substitute for your love and involvement in their life
- Avoid being too controlling and bossy
- Never belittle them, either privately or publicly. There's nothing constructive about humiliation, it just breeds resentment
- Don't air any grievances in public. Some things are best sorted out in private
- Appreciate all that's good about them and tell them so
- Don't be afraid to discipline them to save hurting their feelings, they must be taught right from wrong no matter what, but do it in an understanding, explanatory way