Gender parenting

What girls (and boys) need from their fathers (and mothers)!!

I just came across this article about what girls need from their fathers. I think this lists applies to boys as well. We are different in many ways but the core needs are there within all of us, girls, boys, women and men. We all need love, certainty, significance and to be valued and respected. How do we give each other this on an everyday basis? This article gives a lot of suggestions. If some of them strike a cord, have a think and do something about it. A lot are, I hope, already in place but most of us can do more. I have never worked with a client who felt too much love growing up!

Why does my child keep hitting others?

Has your child ever lashed out and hit you or another child?  Have you had complaints of your child kicking or shoving another?  How about hair pulling?  Just like tantrums (blog of the 12th June) - physical ‘violence’ in a child is something they need to learn (as early as possible) is unacceptable behaviour.  They must understand that there will be consequences with this type of behaviour and this does not mean hitting them back!

Why the violence?  Most of the time it is the result of feelings of frustration in your child.  It is their way of expressing a deep level of frustration or anger and they lash out physically at people they feel are ‘causing’ their pain.

 What to do?

Ask your daughter why she is feeling angry.  Ask your son what you can do to help him get rid of his frustrations.  Through talking to your child work out what is the cause of the behaviour and the reason behind their feeling hurt, pain or frustration.  Sometimes just by letting them know that you are paying attention and have noticed how they are feeling will already do a lot to reduce their frustrations.  Use positive parenting a lot – which in this case means age-appropriate directions and logical and clear consequences.   

Remember: No shaming / No Guilt / No labelling - it doesn't help things!

Just like everything else you do – be consistent.  It’s NEVER OK to hit another child or lash out in public.  Stop it the first time – and every time.  Be clear about what type of behaviour you expect – and MODEL it yourself.  Make sure your child knows you are watching carefully and praise them when they behave well.

It is so important to catch this early as if left unchecked - this can develop into some nasty 'bullying' habits later on....

+ More specific tips on biting in 2 weeks time…

How do boys learn to make good choices?

A lot is written about teenage boys and their behaviours, particularly in groups. Egging each other on and not thinking about consequences or that they might actually be hurting someone else. So if you’re the parent of a boy, you need to know that boys’ biology and social conditioning put them squarely at risk of doing some seriously stupid things, particularly during their teenage years.

The human brain does not reach maturity until the early 20s. The last parts of the brain to mature are links between the prefrontal cortex, which assists in judgement and problem-solving, and the limbic system, which handles emotion and self-regulation. In other words, teenage brains are not wired for optimal decision-making or response to crisis.

So what can be done to help our boys to make good choices? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Teach them about empathy. You can build empathy in your sons by modeling empathy for them. Help others. Express understanding and give others the benefit of doubt. Talk about and name feelings; boys are under so much pressure societally to suppress their emotions. Make sure your boys know that your No. 1 goal for them to is become decent human beings.

2. Value your son, not his accomplishments. When you go on and on to others about your son’s grades, athletic accolades or starring roles, your child gets the message that his accomplishments are what you value about him. Of course it’s OK to be proud of your son and to share your pride in what he’s accomplished. The challenge is to balance that with acknowledgement of his value as a human being, separate from anything he’s done. Your son needs to know that he’s loved unconditionally. So hug him. Say “I love you.” Show an interest in his interests, and make time to have fun with him.

3. Acknowledge good choices. Most boys and girls make several mistakes each day. But while it’s natural to point these out, we need to make sure to acknowledge the good things they do as well. Praise your son when he helps someone else. (Insider tip: Mention his good deed to someone else when you know he’s listening. He’ll be thrilled!) Thank him for helping you with the shopping or gardening.

These are just a few things that we can all do but the main things is, start as early as possible! The earlier, the better.