Bonding and discipline will suddenly come naturally to you when you learn these fascinating facts and decode the boy brain. These 5 parenting tips will help you understand your son’s behavior and bond with your boy.
Sometimes I think my oldest son is my emotional clone.
While a lot of that can be attributed to us both being number one in the birth order, there are other specific similarities. We shut down quickly when our feelings are hurt. Being left out of a conversation is almost painful for us. And when we commit to something, a brick wall couldn’t stop us.
Other times, we seem to understand each other as much as a fish understand what a dog is barking about.
These hiccups in translation were often due to my inability to fully decipher what his growing mind was really, truly thinking. As a mother of two boys, I was determined to decode my son’s minds.
Also read: The Art of Raising a Gentleman
3 Facts About the Boy Brain
As parents, when we can better understand what motivates and drives our boys, we can enhance how we parents and connect with them.
While we know that every child is different and some gender stereotypes are false, there are three biologic differences about the male brain that influence some of their behavior.
Learning these three facts can help you to better understand your son:
Gray Matter Matters
There are two types of “matter” in everyone’s brain. Gray matter, which controls muscle coordination and sensory activity, and white matter – which connects processing centers.
Males typically use more gray matter, which makes them do well with task-focused projects. Scientifically speaking, multi-tasking can be challenging to your son, but they may thrive with single tasks.
He will most likely feel understood and accomplished when he is allowed to focus on a certain task.
Looking for More tips on how to decode the boy brain? Check out: How to Stay Close to Your Growing Son
Literally Wired Differently
The brain is divided into left and right hemispheres. Opposite of what you might assume, the right hemisphere takes in sensory input from your left side and vice versa.
While a female’s brain is wired to jump back and forth between sides, the male brain is not. It is wired from front to back.
The result of this is heightened perception and stronger motor skills for boys. For example, boys are better at visualizing a two- or three-dimensional shape rotated in space compared to girls.
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Emotional Processing Differences
Research suggests that the male brain has less blood flow in the specific part of the brain that’s involved in processing emotions (cingulate gyrus) compared to the female brain.
This results in less intense emotional reactions and reduced emotional memories compared to females.
While you may be annoyed that your son isn’t showing you the level of emotions you expect, it is important to understand that boys’ brains aren’t necessarily wired to attach emotions to memories in the same way yours is.
Learn how to help your son feel comfortable talking about emotions here.
5 Ways to Enhance Your Boy-Mom Parenting Skills
So, what does this all mean for the mom who wants to better communicate and connect with her son?
After you decode the boy brain, you can use these five tips to improve your mom-son bond:
1) Give Single Requests
Your son may not be purposely ignoring you if you tell him to “clean his room, finish his homework, and wash his hands before dinner”.
His brain (grey matter, remember?) may just be struggling with all the unrelated tasks thrown his way.
The boy brain does a great job focusing on completing one task at a time, yet multitasking can be challenging.
Provide him with one task at a time before moving onto something new.
2) Charts and Checklists Help
Biology tells us that boys like to focus on a task until it is complete.
Providing instructions or positive discipline in the form of charts and checklists are a great way to help your son feel accomplished.
For example, a chore checklist or routine chart can help motivate him and guide him to feel excited and proud of himself.
3) Bond with Tasks and Activities
While not every boy is the same, the “typical” boy brain loves tasks and activities.
Try bonding with your son through activities like these:
- Throw a ball outside with him
- Ask him to help you make dinner
- Build a big Lego castle together
- Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt
Whatever the activity is, you will have better luck connecting with your son if it involves an activity.
4) Engage in Conversation During Activities
When I ask my son how school was, I am lucky if I get a shrug.
However, if we are outside throwing a baseball and I start asking him questions, he gets excited to open up about who he sat with at lunch, how he did on his science test, and what he wants to do over the weekend.
The “typical” boy may gravitate more towards tasks verse social interaction, but if you engage in conversations during activities you may be surprised at how much he opens up.
5) Model Openness and Expressing Emotions
Labeling emotions may sound easy to us, but many children (especially boys) need help identifying their feelings. When kids slow down and think about how they feel, they can learn how to be mindful of their actions.
Talk openly about how you are feeling -and why – throughout the day and be specific. This provides solid examples that help your son understand.
We can’t expect our sons to learn how to express their feelings if we shutdown and lock up when things aren’t going our way.
These tips will help you raise boys who feel comfortable talking about emotions.
Final Thoughts on How to Decode the Boy Brain
While your son’s personality is not set in stone or defined by brain make-up, understanding the biology behind what makes your son tick can help you parent more efficiently.
When I learned what drove my son’s general thought processes, I was able to decode his behavior. I had a huge “A-HA” moment after I understood that his mind thrived when completing tasks and that he didn’t always tie emotions to everything (as I did).
While I still sometimes feel like he is speaking gibberish, and he sometimes looks at me like I have a fish for a head, these tips helped us learn how to remain patient until we could translate each other.
Explore here if you are looking for more positive parenting tips on raising boys.