Parents of boys will agree that they just don’t have the same social graces as girls do. They’ll also take longer to learn the ropes. By the way, boys tend to turn to you for emotional support as it’s harder for them to form close intimate relationships with their peers, as compared to girls.
While you may feel like a broken recorder repeating the same advice time after time, thankfully, they do listen. So that they mature into self-assured men, drop these nuggets any time you have a decent convo with them:
1) Manage your anger
If not, it can easily escalate out of control, much like a car without brakes. Boys tend to possess greater physical strength and when paired with aggression, this fiery combination can cause misunderstandings or worse, lead to assault. It isn’t just the use of words but also the way the words are said. Theresa Bung, principal therapist at Family Life Society, advises that you say, “Harsh words can stir up [unnecessary] feelings and managing your tone can help turn away anger.”
2) Never end your sentences with these three words “…like a girl”
There’s nothing demeaning about being a girl, and some day, a girl will grow up and be your wife. Says Olivia Poon, a mother of a 2-year-old son, “Know that every girl you meet is your equal, and can do everything you can do, sometimes even better than you can.”
“Know that every girl you meet is your equal, and can do everything you can do, sometimes even better than you can.”
3) Always treat a woman right
Don’t take the women — be it girlfriend, wife, mother, mother-in-law — in your life for granted. Even simple manners like greeting them when you first meet and remembering to say “Thank you”, matters. And they’ll score brownie points if they take the initiative to render help whenever they can.
4) Pee goes into the toilet bowl…not around it
This is one all mothers with sons can sympathise with. Says mother of two young boys Lynnette Tan, “I went to the toilet one night and recall smelling the stench of dried urine, even though the door was shut!” Remind them: Aim well to ensure your pee goes into the bowl, not around it. If it does end up anywhere else, tell them to give a good wipe and remind them to WASH THEIR HANDS! Explain that you aren’t the designated toilet cleaner. If your message falls on deaf ears, getting them to wash the toilet for a week should drive the message home.
5) When we discipline, it’s not to shame but to correct
Reassure your kids that the punishment you mete out is to correct any disobedience as you’ve already given numerous warnings. Says Chong Ee Jay, manager and parenting coach at TOUCH Family Services, “Remind them that our objective is to correct their behaviour and remind them of what’s right, so that they can mature. We don’t do this to inflict shame or pain.” After you have disciplined your child, give him time to express his emotions. Once your kiddo’s calmer, talk to him, so that he can process what has happened. Remember, never discipline your child when you are angry or you won’t be able to control your own anger.
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6) Be conscious of your body language
Walking around with a perpetual grimace and arms crossed all the time isn’t going to help you make friends. Notes Dr Vanessa von Auer, a clinical psychologist at VA Psychology Center, “First impressions are formed within seconds. So, learning to present oneself confidently is an essential life skill.”
7) Always dress to impress
Dressing appropriately goes a long way towards creating positive first impressions. Know the type of clothes that will suit your physique including colours and prints. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your clothing choices, taking note of what works and what doesn’t. Also, tell him that his friends might dress differently and that’s okay as what suits them may not work for your kid, too. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to smell good, whatever the situation.
8) You can always come to me for help or advice
We expect our sons to become independent problem solvers who are tough or strong. However, Dr von Auer points out, “Because children do not have the life experience to always make the best decisions, this [independence] can often lead to further complications or misunderstandings” So, reassure your son you’ll always be there to support him, however unfavourable the situation.
Keep on telling junior that he’ll always be more important to you than what he can achieve in life.
9) In life, there are no failures, only lessons
Don’t feel bruised when you stumble, it’s a sign for you to adjust your footing to see how you can do better the next time. Bung points out, “Every time you come up short is just a reminder to improve your skills. It is also a reminder for you to change what you can to weather the challenges.”
10) Sad or happy, it’s okay to express how you feel
Tears are not a sign of weakness, so encourage junior to talk openly about his feelings at home, a place where he can be himself. Dr von Auer cautions, “Boys who do not learn to express their feelings can grow up to [experience] psychological turmoil. Instead of expressing feelings, they bottle them up, which can lead to self-medication through alcohol, drugs and other substances; [not to mention] depression or even anger outbursts.”
11) You are important and you are special, no matter what
Be quick to reassure your child whenever he faces setbacks and challenges. Chong says, “[More often than not], it takes one simple word to tear down your kid’s tower of esteem and it will take a whole lot of encouragement to build it again.” So, keep on telling junior that he’ll always be more important to you than what he can achieve in life.
Theresa Bung is a principal therapist at Family Life Society, Chong Ee Jay is a manager and parenting coach at TOUCH Family Services and Dr Vanessa von Auer is the clinical director at VA Psychology Center,
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