I just got back from Vegas (ABC EXPO round-up coming soon!) and if I had to bet money on the fact that most of us are trying to raise happy confident boys who can take care of themselves then I’d be a winner. No one wants a son who doesn’t know how to treat others well. No one wants a son that turns out to be a “King,” expecting everyone to bow down in his path. And, as much as we love caring for them now, most of us want to make sure they are functioning and able when they leave the house. These things are no small tasks for a Mother. Some days the job feels bigger than others. Some days we wonder if we’re doing it right. I sat down with nationally known child expert and book author (“The Way Of Boys: Promoting the Social and Emotional Development of Young Boys”) to ask some hard hitting questions about raising little men. I think you’ll find his answers quite interesting.
Kristin Quinn: What are some of the top myths we should know about boys?
Dr. Rao: Myths about boys abound. Here are a few. Boys and girls are basically the same and differences don’t really matter. All boys are over-active and aggressive. Boys don’t communicate. Boys don’t cry. Boys aren’t social. Truth is, boys are complex and don’t neatly fit into these simple stereotypes. Once you understand early boy’s development and appreciate the trends impacting boyhood, you gain what you need to see them in their true complexities. Once better understood, raising boys moves from frustrating to rewarding.
Kristin Quinn: How can you help my readers to avoid the dreaded power struggle that often comes with raising boys?
Dr. Rao: As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. If you’re locked in a power struggle with your son, you’re likely fueling it by giving him attention. Here’s a new way to think about power struggles: It’s natural, especially for young boys, to push the boundaries. They’re experimenting with ways to gain control to achieve what they want. So, don’t engage in a back-and-forth struggle. If the issue at hand isn’t important, let it go. Wear sneakers or shoes to school? Gloves or mittens? One more bite of broccoli? Don’t get caught up in these relatively tiny daily details. As soon as you see a power struggle starting up, step back and disengage. Don’t give it attention. Instead, seize the moment as a learning opportunity. Let natural consequences help your son learn that he’s making life tough for himself. Tell him, “It was your choice not to get into bed at the time we agreed. So there’s no time left for a story tonight. I’ll miss reading to you. But, tomorrow will be another day and I know you will do a better job not fighting so we have more time for a story.” At first, he will cry and protest if you don’t join in on his desire to struggle… but by using this approach you can start to reverse negative patterns. Remember to always stick to what you say. Always appear calm and collected. Use fewer words. These will bring about fewer struggles.
Kristin Quinn: I often hear people say, “I love my kids, but sometimes I’m exhausted and think maybe they are too.” Any tips for restoring some balance to home life?
Dr. Rao: Exhausted? That means you’re expending too much energy to run your household. Maybe you’re trying too hard. Most parents I know work to be their “best” and to do everything for their kids. I think they’re putting unrealistic expectations on themselves. Rather than trying harder, try this: Shift your mindset. Start thinking of yourself more as a leader (and not only as a parent). When we approach parenting as a set of leadership skills, the job becomes clearer and more gets done. First lead yourself. Get calm, collected, never yell (it only makes you look weak). Avoid perfection and over-scheduling and don’t expect your kids to always be happy. That’s not possible or realistic. Good leaders are also in charge of what their environment is like. Be thoughtful about what you allow into your home. Foremost, control high stimulation. Watch exposure to screens and negative news broadcasts. Set up your house to be a place where people face each other and talk. Be aware of hyper-stimulation, information overload, noise, disorganization, and multitasking. These all tap your energy and rev up your nerves. Above all, focus on the big picture – tell yourself what really matters is happening right now… right in front of you. That’s mindfulness, and it helps you appreciate precious moments. Start enjoying the time you have with your children. They won’t be young forever.
Don’t miss the opportunity to hear more about these and other topics at Dr. Rao’s talk:
Are You Doing Right By Your Son?
Wednesday November 4th, 7PM-9PM
Fessenden School in Newton, MA
Open to the public and free of charge
Visit This Link to reserve your spot
Last March a similar but different event had a waiting list of 100 people so don’t delay!)
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This is a sponsored post by the Fessenden School.