Maggie Dent on raising resilient boys to help them thrive

Kinderling News & Features

Maggie Dent has a passion for helping Australian parents raise resilient, strong and loving men. 

Her passion for helping boys comes from some alarming statistics. Boys are more likely to take greater physical risks, they’re more likely to get injured in accidents and sport and they face bigger mental health risks as they grow into men. 

When Maggie holds parenting lectures, the room is full of mostly women, Mums wanting to get the best advice on parenting the opposite sex well, Mums that want to avoid their boys becoming one of those statistics. 

Listen to Maggie on Kinderling Conversation:

Help boys feel secure

Times have changed but still boys and girls are treated very differently. Boys may be expected to be stronger than girls, but in reality they can feel berated and vulnerable in certain situations. Give your boy small cues so they know that they are loved, like a little tickle, a wink or a high-five. 

Modify language 

Boys develop language a lot later than girls, because they develop more in the right brain, as opposed to the left brain where linguistics are stronger. When they’re frustrated, they sometimes default to anger since they don’t have the words to express how they’re feeling. 

Use hand gestures in addition to speech to explain what you need or want them to do. Boys pick up visual signs more, so avoid calling out to them from another room.

Build bridges of connection 

Building little love bridges, or moments of connection, make boys feel like they matter. Boys need to see constant loving action as well as verbal affirmations of love. 

When boys are naughty it can feel like they’re intentionally being disrespectful, rude or forgetful. Reframe that idea and know that at times they really can only focus on one thing, and that they’re not good with change. If we understand how our sons process information, and that they are incredibly more forgetful than girls, more allowances can be made in a loving space, instead of in frustration. 

For example, try not to enquire about school immediately after the day has finished. He’s exhausted and needs time. Allow him to come to you when he’s ready to talk and create moments of loving connection that they can hold on to. 

Curb physicality and roughness 

Men are biologically wired to be physical. They have a larger amygdala and more testosterone, so their play will be rough. Every now and then it hurts but they’re not good at judging that because it takes reflection. Keep it safe by setting simple guidelines: try not to hurt yourself, others or to damage things. 

Expect testosterone surges 

Boys have a number of testosterone spurts throughout childhood. Be mindful that this will mean excess energy for them, so keep them physically active in large spaces outside the home. Also set them exciting, challenging tasks that require concentration. They’ll be much calmer afterwards.