In the last article, we had seen the unique characteristics of boys (under the age of 5) and how they are different from girls. Equal but, yes, at the same time different. We have thus taken the first step to understanding our sons better.
Here are 10 techniques to encourage your son to listen, engage and accept discipline and boundaries. These techniques work with most of the boys. They are not difficult, but the more you try them the more they will work.
- Touch and talk –
If you want his attention, touch your son on the arm. Even if he looks away his ears will open. This isn’t a grip or a tug, just a touch.
- Low and slow –
If you want him to listen to what you say, you will need to deepen your voice and slow down your speech. This is just low and slow, not aggressive or angry.
- Fewer words –
Whatever you want him to do, strip it down to as few words as possible without commentary. If you go from ‘I have asked you ten times to put those toys away, but you are not doing it’, to ‘TOYS AWAY PLEASE’.
- Look over here –
If he is becoming too focussed on something that is likely to lead to him getting upset, then draw his attention onto something else, such as another toy, something funny, someone else, or another activity. A little diversion in attention can avoid the impending rage or tears.
- Know the rules –
Boys need to be told the rules. They rarely ask what they are. Assume he doesn’t know how to behave in a supermarket, so tell him ‘here we walk’, ‘the trolley is pushed slowly, ‘we put in the basket what is on the list.’ Boys often see the world as a playground so if there are rules they need to be told to them, and often more than once.
- Walk and talk –
A lot of boys find it easier to talk when on the move. We ask boys to sit down and talk, but they are often more comfortable when they are in motion. If you have to have a difficult conversation, then try walking him around the block.
- Say the NO –
Especially if you tend to give him a lot of explanations and certainly if he knows he should not be doing it, a very firm NO will do the trick. If he is about to throw something at someone, say NO firmly, but not aggressively or threateningly. An explanation can follow later, but he needs to know there is no negotiation.
- Nip in the bud –
Some parents say they ask their sons to do something ten times and then shout. Sometimes this is about timing, if you use the techniques above when you can see that something WILL become a problem, then both of you are more relaxed. Sort it out before it becomes a drama.
- Explain later when calm –
When the level of tension is low is the best time to deal with situations. As parents, we usually want to explain what our children did wrong at the time. Even if your son is able to reflect, he probably won’t be able to at a time when both of you are upset. Wait until later, when you are close and cuddling to discuss it calmly and quietly.
- Time Out for YOU –
Usually, Time Out is suggested as a way for the child to sit by themselves, so they are able to reflect on what they have done. This does not work for under fives because they don’t reflect in that way. This time out is for you, giving you a chance to reflect. You are the adult, problems arise because of the way two people react to each other and you have a part to play in the drama.
Are you questioning whether the above techniques are going to work?
The good news is boys form habits quickly, thanks to the ‘Three-week rule.’ If you use any of these techniques consistently for three weeks they will become a habit and you will find you need to use them less and less.
PS – I am not an expert but a regular mom of a boy who has taken help of a few parenting courses (during my 2-year long stay in UK) to get to know my son better. All the points covered in this article are based on references to the ‘About Boys Course (0-5)’ which I attended in 2013.
First published on BabyChakra