Psychologists Share 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.
We at Bright Side have prepared an article on this topic that could be helpful for parents of boys.
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.
- And 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.
What is your experience as a boy's parent? Share your answers with us!