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3 Stages of Boys’ Development Every Parent Should Know About



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3 Stages of Boys’ Development Every Parent Should Know About

Parenting is not an easy game to play, and it’s definitely more than just caring about what your kid eats and wears. Girls and boys both have very specific developmental processes. But boys need more attention. Psychologists and developmental specialists distinguish 3 main stages of boys’ development, which are very important to consider when bringing up a child.

Stage 1: From birth to 6 years old

Babies are just babies, regardless of their gender. They like when we play with them, hold them in our arms, speak to them — basically, they seek attention. When growing up, baby boys discover the world around them through different activities, and it’s important to help them with this. Erich Fromm, a social psychologist, performs research that often points out the significance of parents’ roles in a boy’s early development. Here are his most prominent ideas:

    If a mother suffers from depression, it will affect the child too, because a love for life passes on from a mother to a child.
    Boys need their parents’ participation, and here, mothers mostly play the role of a loving and caring parent. This is really important because a child needs to feel confident and loved.

    The father’s role is to be an authority for his son, be the person who the child will want to be like, from whom he will learn what is good and what is bad.
    A mother’s love is unconditional. Mothers love their child just because he is there, but a father’s love is different. It needs to be deserved by doing good things, by behaving rightly. This is how a kid learns about morality and basic rules. If this balance is not kept, then a boy might grow to become either a narcissist or a cruel person.
    However, starting from 2 years old, it’s of utmost importance for a mother to establish boundaries in her relationship with her son in order to avoid the development of the Oedipus complex.

Stage 2: From 6 to 13 years old

This is an age when boys clearly realize their gender role and get involved in “boyish” activities. Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., and research psychologist considers the following points to be the most vital in parenting a boy of this age:

    “Realize that boys will, yes, be boys.” The point here is not to try to protect your child from what you may consider masculine and rather aggressive activities, but rather, to just deal with the fact that he has these kinds of interests. Value your son’s manliness while encouraging growth, independence, and a sense of adventure. If he wants to play with a toy gun or play violent video games — he will find a way, despite your restrictions.
    Respect his individuality because “boy” has no one definition. There are different styles to express masculinity and, of course, it’s totally okay to have interest in feminine activities as well.

    Encourage diverse interests. The problem of many parents is that they want their children to be just like them and have the same interests. But encouraging your son to get involved in different activities will enrich his life and help him to appreciate freedom of choice.
    Don’t have gender-based expectations. Peggy Drexler says that according to her observations, boys who were not trapped in gender roles were more independent, more open-minded, and more sexually tolerant than their peers.
    Teach a boy to deal with criticism. Show him how he can stand up for himself without being overly aggressive.

Stage 3: From 14 years onward

This is the stage when your boy becomes a teenager. This period is tough since hormonal activity makes boys angry and even aggressive. The way out of here is to direct this energy into the right channel.

    You need to help your son to become responsible for his own actions because responsibility doesn’t come naturally, it should be taught. As psychologist Steven Stosny, Ph.D., says, “The key to teaching responsibility is to make sure that your children understand this crucial fact: Power, privilege, and responsibility go together. When responsibility is high, so are the other two. And when it is low, so are the other two.”
    At the same time, give him a chance to establish his own identity. A child development professor David Elkind, Ph.D., thinks that unless you see your child going along with bad company, you should give him more independence.
    Decide rules and discipline in advance. According to Amy Bobrow, Ph.D. and a clinical psychologist, both parents should have strict rules of punishment they may implement or things they allow their son to do. Otherwise, it would be difficult to explain.
The most important rule is to be a role model. It doesn’t matter what you teach your child if your behavior shows the opposite.
Be a good example and you will have no troubles with parenting.


Source :
From Boys to Men: Raising Independent, Open-Minded Sons
May 01, 2012

Boyishness can, and should, show up in many different ways.

More than just about anything, Fiona’s boys hated having their nails trimmed. They were rough-and-tumble types, with a penchant for superheroes and playing with sticks. So Fiona came up with a diversionary tactic: nail polish. “At one point, both boys had toenails in every color I own—purple, gold, fire engine red, green,” she recalls. “It started out as a bribe, but it turned into a big treat… our little in-joke.”

A few years later, when the older boy, TJ, started kindergarten, he came home and told Fiona that the other boys in his class thought his painted fingernails were “weird.” Fiona told TJ that he could do whatever he liked, but that painting his nails was his own choice. Though TJ’s interests varied widely, he was never a boy people would describe as “feminine.” He was a kid who wanted to tape sharpened sticks to his fingers so he’d have claws like the X-Men’s Wolverine. He was also a kid who wanted his nails painted green and purple from time to time.

Most days, TJ decided to limit the painting to his toenails only. That way, he told his mom, he could still enjoy the ritual but “the other boys won’t know.” One day, though, TJ came home and asked Fiona to paint his fingernails blue. He took some teasing for it at school, but this time around, he didn’t care. Later that week, Fiona and TJ were shopping at the local market when the checkout guy remarked, “nice nails.” The guy had a black leather jacket, black nail polish and, recalls Fiona, “oozed cool.” TJ was visibly proud of himself for being so hip. “It really made his day,” she says. “He walked taller, spoke in a deeper voice, and acted cool for the rest of the afternoon.” All on his own, TJ had figured out something about identity, belonging, and what it means to be interesting—and it had nothing to do with conforming on the playground.

For years, psychologists hypothesized that raising strong, confident boys had more to do with nurture than with nature, and that it was essential for parents—fathers, mainly—to instill in their boys a masculinity and sense of self. But most scientists now believe that boys are hardwired from birth to be boys—and that boyishness can show up in a variety of ways. As mothers of young sons, my friends and I often worried about the influence of just about everything they encountered, from violent movies and video games to divorce, gangs, drugs, and alcohol. We wondered: What kind of men do we want our boys to grow into? How could our boys learn to be masculine without being destructive? How could they learn to be caring without being faint of heart?

Through years studying children and adolescents and their families, I’ve observed that the mothers who are the most successful at tapping into their sons’ boy power are those who realize that boyishness can, and should, show up in many different ways, from messing around in the mud to running home to help fix dinner to expressing themselves creatively. To help your son harness his “boy power” and grow into a strong, independent man:

1. Realize boys will, yes, be boys.
Value your son’s manliness while encouraging growth, independence, and a sense of adventure. Though Mac’s mother, Susan, tried to shield him from aggression by keeping him away from TV until age 2, Mac liked using sticks to poke things from the time he could walk. By age 7, despite Susan’s ban on toy guns, Mac and his brother would regularly chew their morning toast into the shape of pistols and pretend to shoot one another. The lesson: Boys will create what they need to express themselves. If they want gun-shaped toast on the menu, they’ll put it on the menu.
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2. Respect his individuality.
“Boy” has no one definition. There’s a wide range of styles of being a boy. By not insisting that your son acquiesce to standard gender roles or play with “gender-correct” toys, you will help him develop into a more independent, open-minded, and sensitive person. When 12-year-old Ethan had to select 7th grade electives, he chose cooking and sewing. “I’m sure in some circles that wouldn’t be a very popular choice for seventh grader to make,” says his mom, Ursula. “But I didn’t say ‘You’re what?’ I said, ‘That sounds great. What are you learning to cook?’”

Realize that being masculine doesn’t exclude boys’ interest in female activities. The boys I’ve met through my research cook, clean, garden, and primp, all in their own ways and with their own goals in mind. “Nobody’s gotta tell me I’m a boy,” says 7-year-old Sean, a boy with a well-developed affinity for both judo and baking cookies. “I know it inside. Always did, ever since I was little.”

3. Refuse to fall prey to gender-based expectations.
We as a society persist with the notion that the male and female genders have different and distinct traits. This is not true. This sort of gender typing is, in fact, thought to impede emotional development and account for violent behavior. Children who are not bound by gender conformity seem to be better adjusted. In my work, I observed that boys who are not trapped in gender roles were more independent, more open minded, and more sexually tolerant than their peers. These boys also more easily related to females with respect and openness.

4. Help him deal constructively with criticism and prejudice.
Teach your son how to be assertive and stand up for himself without being overly aggressive. 10-year-old Caleb was struggling with being small for his age, and his classmates were starting to tease him about it. His mom talked with him about “all the great things about being small—like when playing hide and seek, you can find a really good place to hide,” she recalls. Later, Caleb was heard playing with his younger cousin. The young girl said, “Caleb, you’re really small for your age, aren’t you?” Caleb replied, “Yes, I am,” and proceeded to proudly enumerate all the good things about being small.
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5. Foster diverse interests.
Many parents want their kids to be just like them: If they like piano, they want their kids to be pianists, only better—and the same with sports, choice of career, and lifestyle. But encouraging your son to participate in a wide variety of activities will enlarge his scope of interests, enrich his life, and help him appreciate freedom of choice for himself and in others.

Maria enrolled her son, Zane, in ballet when he was four, wanting to expose him to a range of cultural experiences. Though he loved dancing, as he grew older, teasing ensued. Finally, at age 8, Zane quit, only to find that he missed ballet. “You can handle this teasing thing,” Maria told him. “Tell your friends to shut up and get over it.” Deciding that he wasn’t going to let his friends influence his decisions, Zane made his friends apologize. Then he returned to ballet class.

Dr. Peggy Drexler is a research psychologist, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, and author Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family (Rodale, May 2011). Follow Peggy on Twitter and Facebook and learn more about Peggy at


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