WHAT MAKES BOYS TICK - 10 FACTS ABOUT BOYS THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW
Here at COBRA, we are both educators and parents. Our goal is to empower the vulnerable, to strengthen individuals and to incite inner confidence! We have taught many thousands of children across the globe, and hundreds here on the Sunshine Coast. Every child is unique and not all boys or all girls are the same. However, it is a fact that gender is one of the two great organising principles in child development (the other principle being age).
This means that, in our courses, our homes, on the streets and in school playgrounds, we see that boys and girls have marked physical and psychological differences. They therefore have to be educated differently.
We know that boys can be a mystery to many parents, particularly those who were raised in all-girl households or who have had minimum exposure to males in their formative years. The more you know about boys the better placed you are to meet their needs as a parent, carer or teacher, and the better chance you have to keep your sons happy, healthy and SAFE.
So here are 10 facts to help you better understand what makes boys tick:
1. BOYS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE HEURISTIC LEARNERS THAN GIRLS
Boys, more than girls, are likely to learn many of their lessons from experience rather than being told. This can be make parenting them challenging, particularly if you don’t have an appetite for risk yourself. Perhaps the biggest challenge is keeping them safe, so some risks need to be out of bounds. It can also be difficult as a parent being the support person when the lessons that boys learn bring hardship and tears.
2. BOYS ARE MORE WILLING TO ACCEPT RISK
Most boys enjoy taking risks, and are also impressed by other boys who take risks. This is not the same for girls, who generally are less likely to seek out risky situations just for the sake of it. While boys enjoy doing risky things, they also systematically overestimate their own ability, whereas girls are likely to underestimate it. Boys are also more likely to disobey their parents when told not to do something risky. In addition, boys are also more attracted to violence and conflict and are notably readier to fight and to respond aggressively than girls.
3. BOYS BRAINS ARE DESIGNED BY A DIFFERENT ARCHITECT
In the first five years of life a girl’s brain is busy developing fine motor skills, verbal skills and social skills, which are all highly valued by parents and teachers. Meanwhile, a boy’s brain is busy developing gross motor skills, spatial skills and visual skills. These are all handy hunting skills. So boys often start school with a distinct disadvantage when it comes to learning and fitting in. However it also means males discern with greater facility location, direction and speed.
4. BOYS MATURE DIFFERENTLY TO GIRLS
The maturity gap between boys and girls of anywhere between 12 months and two years, seems to be consistent all the way to adulthood. Parents and educators should take this into account. This maturity gap is also evident when kids finish school and move into tertiary studies or the workplace. Girls are often better placed to succeed, and many boys get lost once they leave school.
5. LOYALTY IS A HIGH DRIVER FOR BOYS
Understand that a boy’s loyalty to his friends and family is a key driver and you’ll begin to understanding the male psyche. They are incredibly influenced by their peers, which can hold many of them back. It takes a brave boy to get too far ahead of the pack, so they often hold each other back when it comes to achieving.
Loyalty to others can get boys into trouble. Call a boy’s sister an insulting name and you are in for fight. Insult his friends and you are asking for trouble. Threaten one of his mates and you might as well threaten him.
6. BOYS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE VISUAL LEARNERS
Boys generally need a reason to learn. If you are having difficulty motivating your son, then try linking learning to their interests. They may play a musical instrument when they know they can play in a band, or they may practise their kicking if they can see it will help kick more goals for their soccer team. If they love skateboarding the chances are they want to know more about it, so use this as a lever to motivate them if reading is a problem. In the context of COBRA, we appeal to the visual learning facet of boys with plenty of role-play and demonstrations in our courses.
7. BOYS FIGHT MORE THAN GIRLS
Research of primary school aged students in the playground showed that boys fight 20 times more than girls. The fighting wasn’t always destructive, as researchers found that boys usually ended up being better friends following the dispute. Male primates have the same proclivity toward fighting and it is largely thought that this aggression is a part of the socialisation process for males. In fact, male primates that don’t fight with other males when young, grow up more violent as adults, not less! We must point out, however, that even though some boys may fight, an important part of the socialisation process is to teach how to resolve conflict with words, rather than using physical means.
8. BOYS BENEFIT GREATLY FROM SILENCE
Boys don’t have the same innate tendency for reflection that girls are born with. Don’t get us wrong, males of all ages have the ability reflect on their behaviours, values and their lives (when older), but they need the environment to be right for them to do so.
Quiet time and down time give boys the chance to let their thoughts wander around inside their heads. It also helps them get to know and even like themselves. Boys will often do their best thinking on their own, so they tend to retreat to their caves (bedroom) when things go wrong at school, in life or in their relationships. They need to go within to find their own answer.
9. BOYS JUST WANT TO BLEND IN
Boys are group-oriented by nature. They want to fit in. They tend to play group games and form themselves into structured friendship groups. Boys generally don’t want to stand out from the crowd. Don’t put them down in front of their friends and understand that they may make poor friendship choices rather than be in a group of one – by themselves. They prefer the ‘wrong friends’ rather than no friends at all. Sadly, this can (and often does) lead boys down the path of poor decision-making and negative peer influence.
10. APPROVAL IS AT THE HEART OF WORKING WITH BOYS
Approval is at the heart of working successfully with boys. They will walk over broken glass or hot coals if they feel you like them. In a sense this notion holds many of them back, as most boys will only work for a teacher if they like them and close down on learning if they sense the teacher doesn’t like them. Take the time to nurture a relationship with your sons or the boys that you interact with. Some boys like to talk; others like to share an activity; some like you as an adult to do something for them; others are very kinaesthetic and love to be touched, cuddled and hugged; while some just love gifts and mementoes. Work out the relational preferences of the males in your life and make sure you match these.
What do you think about the (generalised) facts about boys above? Have you noticed any of these characteristics in your own sons or students? Or perhaps you know a young man who kicks these trends to the kerb! Comment below and let us know your experiences with boys.
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