I recently attended a workshop on how boys develop and think, at my local children’s centre. Initially, when I saw the advertisement that said it was an hour long I cheekily thought ‘is that how much or how little they think?’ Turns out an hour was enough to touch on the vital points. The fact is all the attendees where mums trying to understand their boys better and how best to support their development. I doubt if any of us intended to study the subject at a higher learning level. One hour was sufficient. Apparently, up and down the country boys are falling behind girls in reading and writing.


A Boy’s Life


From the early years stage to teenage years, generally boys struggle. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.  Angelo is not at school aged yet but I do wonder how success is measured for our children. I’ve noticed that Angelo does not like to ‘reveal’ how much he know, if he’s not in the mood. The best way for me to discern what and how much he’s learning is to tune into his imaginative play. While he plays depending on his game, I hear him count, talk about colours, talk about taking care of his baby etc However, if I ask him to count for me, its suddenly a game. He giggles, does silly things and tries to distract focus from himself.

He learns best when its fun and interactive and who wouldn’t come to think of it. I wonder how much of  this type of learning is taking place in schools? Parents with older children, especially boys, you tell me.


Investigating in the one spot he should not be



How Boys Mature


It’s said that boys have three big surges of testosterone: when they are newborn, at age four and around the age fourteen. Is it any wonder that boys act ‘the fool’ sometimes, with such surge in hormones?!  In terms of their development boys mature in the following ways (points taken from the handout I received at the workshop):


  • brain/muscle connections happen more slowly and are still developing at age 4. They need large movements such as running, jumping and climbing.  It can be painful to sit still
  •  boys express their emotions physically as their language  and emotional control develops
  • boys show preference  to toys based on movement the right side of brain develops faster (testosterone) controlling developments of visual, spatial and emotional centres
  •  boys need touch, especially as they get older. Consider how long is spent on brushing hair, tucking in shirts, cuddling. The skin is the largest sense organ and experiences that engage that engage the senses are often the most powerful and have the strongest residual effect.


Big brother as super hero



How To Support Boys


So how best can we support our boys?  We have to consider the activities that they engage, in for example:

  • provide them with large books and comic books
  • give them access to toys and objects that they can use for construction (this helps with problem solving)
  • allow mark making (not specifically writing) but on a large scale with big movements (supply big pieces paper or large area e.g. big cardboard box and paint roller)
  • superhero play, boys need positive role models (I’m told there is a good book entitled My Dad is a Superhero, yes dads can be heroes too)
  • take them for outdoor play (fresh air positively affects eat, sleep and learning)
  • allow play time with mechanisms and pulleys (don’t worry you don’t have to buy these things, your local centre is likely to have such things)

In Conclusion

I have to say that I came away from the workshop feeling positive. Nothing Angelo does is out of character with his age and stage. However, his language skill is quite good, he loves books, he will tell you how feels and most touching for me is his ability to empathize and show sympathy for others. Yes, he’s loud and acts the fool sometimes but when I give him that special look he smiles. He says to me, “Mummy you so proud. You proud of me!” and you know what? Yes I am and pleased that he knows it.
What are your feelings on your boys’ behaviour? If you also have girl(s) did you notice a difference in their development? Please share your story, I’d love to hear from you.
(updated 19th November 2020)

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