My Top 10 Takeaways from Maggie Dent’s
Boys Boys Boys Seminar
Understanding, Nurturing and Connecting to Today’s Boys
Recently I was fortunate enough to attend my first Maggie Dent seminar. It won’t be my last. It was a sold out event, full of parents (including fathers who admitted they were dragged there!), as well as caregivers who wanted to learn her secrets to connecting with the boys in their life.
I wrote 7 pages of notes, but I thought I would share with you my top ten takeaways:
Build a connection, with your boy, and friends of your boy
Boys need to see your presence. A small gesture like a wink, fist pump, high five or small act of kindness, goes a long way. You will see over time that they grow to love these and it is a connection just between the two of you.
I have already started doing this with some of my son’s friends at school. Their eyes light up when they see me, as they know we are about to have some silliness.
Boys are visual NOT auditory
Do you find yourself yelling at your son to do something 5 times and on the last time when they finally hear you they give you that look like “Why is Mum/Dad shouting at me?” Boys need to see things and not hear them. If you tell them to go put their socks on (which are 2 rooms away), they are likely to find something really interesting to do on the way there and come out with the Lego spaceship they just constructed.
Making an organisational chart where they can tick off what they have done in the morning is really helpful (get dressed, brush teeth, shoes and socks on, chores etc). We have started doing this at home and it is working wonders. Also, instead of telling them things like taking their feet off the table, gently get their feet and put them on the floor, then give them a wink or a kiss on the head.
They love micro-moments
These can include things like things like:
The bedtime ritual - Telling you how much you love them. Boys love ‘spatial’ I love you's like “I love you as much as there are grains of sand on every beach in the world”, next time they are the beach they will get to see how much!
Notes in their lunchbox or on the mirror (they need it written down, they’re not listeners, remember).
Tickles – whether it’s a surprise bedroom attack (not for adolescents!) or when you’re just chilling together.
Body connection – they love rough and tumble, a big squeeze, or a running hug. If they happen to want to crawl on your lap, let them, that space used to be theirs.
Don’t take them anywhere you don’t want them to touch things
Boys are wired to touch things and pull them apart. They need to fidget and rock to produce dopamine. So give them things to play with – an old radio to pull apart, Lego, or even a bit of exercise like stomping their feet to their favourite song. Also give them fidget toys in the car – a whoopee cushion, a Rubik’s cube, a set of fangs, they need to fidget!
Let them be boys
We have to stop being helicopter parents and let them learn some lessons like how far you should actually climb a tree. Stop micromanaging them and let them make some decisions. They need to learn things the hard way. Let them climb, be superheroes who seek adventures and are warrior kings, shoot a pretend gun (Maggie commented that a lot of people don’t believe in buying toy guns for their child, they will make a gun out of anything anyway – a stick, their finger, a wooden spoon! None of her sons grew up loving guns, so why fight it).
Set some simple family ground rules
Boys still need boundaries. The rules she had for her 4 boys:
Try not to hurt yourself
Try not to hurt anyone
Try not to damage property
Avoid shaming them
Boys are a lot more sensitive than girls. This one shocked me. Because girls are often thinking of 1,000 things at once we often don’t delve too deep into things. Boys are the opposite; they are generally thinking of one thing and therefore go deeper than we think. That’s why they can come up with some awesome advice, but at the same time, when you shame them they think way too much into what was said and can think you don’t love them as much. Make them feel like they matter.
Boys need to be around respectable men
This is how they learn how to be when they grow up. If they don’t have a father figure then have them hang around uncles, friends of the family or sportsmen. If you don’t have any of these tell them stories about men who make the world a better place.
Help them out when they do something wrong
Instead of saying “I am so disappointed in you” and giving them ‘the look’ when they do something bad, talk it out with them. Discuss what they did and help them solve what they did wrong. Whether it be fixing something damaged or apologise to a person when they hurt them. Help them understand that there is a consequence to everything they do.
Let them PLAY
We need to get them off the devices. They aren’t able to learn life skills from these, they need skills regarding connection. Girls are about rules, boys are about play. They need interaction, teams, noise, as well as a space for quiet time to regroup.
Maggie assured us, love them ferociously as they do come good. Be the lighthouse and show them you are there. And if you’re having a particularly crappy day, get them to show you one of their favourite videos (like fainting goats) and try to have a good giggle with them.
If you have the chance to attend one of Maggie's seminars I would highly recommend it. It is well worth the time.
Click here to view her upcoming Seminars and E-books