Trying to figure out how to raise boys? These are practical, simple, actionable tools, resources, and long term strategies I’m using as I’m raising boys.
I’m a boy mom times three, so raising good boys is really important to me.
As a mom of three little boys, raising boys, and more importantly raising good boys is super important to me.
There are so many ways to raise boys well, so obviously these ten tips are based on my opinions and my experience of raising sons.
After years of questions about what resources I use for raising boys, and asking for tips to raise a son, I’ve narrowed it to ten tips to raising a boy.
10 TIPS FOR RAISING BOYS
1. Create a routine.
We all know boys are know for being wild and crazy. But I’ve found with all three of my boys (who have very different personalities), that routines and familiarity creates a feeling of calm and safety for all of them. I wrote all about our basic daily routine RIGHT HERE. Do the same things at the same time everyday: have a snack tray after school (check ours out HERE); make a chart or checklist of their morning/afternoon/evening expectations; have the same bedtime every night. Kids thrive in repetition, and creating that in your home calms the crazy like nothing else.
2. Learn their love language and speak it!
I’ve become really aware of my two older boys’ love languages a few years ago, and I make a point to “speak” that love language every single day. It’s especially important for me to do it every night before bed (like an extra snuggle for my “physical touch” boy, and a specific compliment about something he did that day to my “words of affirmation” son).
If you haven’t read The 5 Love Languages Book, get the ADULT VERSION HERE, and the CHILDREN’S VERSION HERE.
3. Make time for one-on-one time.
This is so important as a mother and son. Make time for one-on-one time! A few years ago I implemented a “One Hour Mom Date” once a week, and it’s been a game changer. They open up and connect in an incredible way when you have one on one time.
When they’re really little, quality one on one time is more frequent (especially if you’re a stay at home mom), but it’s easy to get distracted by household chores or phones. Try dividing your days into time slots and having uninterrupted time for 30 minutes coloring, or reading stories, or music time, and then let them play independently for a bit. Then get outside for an hour and then let them play independently for a bit. You’ll get that uninterrupted time in, but also feel like you’re doing more than just sitting on the floor playing cars all day.
Read all about our One Hour Mom Dates HERE.
4. “It’s ok to get upset, it’s not okay to take it out on other people.”
There’s that weird stigma about “tough guys,” and “big boys don’t cry.” As a mom, I’m trying to avoid that. Let the men have their feelings too! I don’t want to squash all their feelings, but we have a phrase in our house that I say all the time, “it’s ok to get upset, it’s not ok to take it out on other people.” And then after saying that, I try to always get on eye level with them and try to figure out what the root of the issue is so they can work through the problem instead of kicking a wall or punching their brother.
5. Teach respect
We use this word in our home A LOT. Words are so important, and repeating that word frequently in our home will hopefully help it sink in over the years. Respect each other’s things (ie. lego creations), respect each other’s need for some space or quiet time. Respect their opinions, that might be different from yours — we talk about this a lot as they’re getting older!
Also, I talk a lot about being respectful to me (as their mom, and as a woman). If they are speaking disrespectfully, it’s most helpful for me to say, “please try again,” and have them repeat their question or statement in a more respectful way.
When I’m talking to someone (especially another adult) and they interrupt, I tell them, “I’m talking right now, please be respectful and don’t interrupt.”
I think it’s the little repetitive reminders that will help them get better at this over time.
Are they respectful all the time? Absolutely not. But we’re working on it.
6. Don’t say “can’t”
This is something I learned from my dad. He always talked about how powerful words were, and I’d frequently hear him say, “don’t even let those words come out of your mouth!” Because as soon as you say it, it’s so much easier to believe it.
So he always encouraged us to avoid saying the word “can’t,” because if you say “I can’t do that,” your brain starts to learn those limiting beliefs.
We do morning affirmations most days, and one of things we repeat is “I will not say can’t!”
7. Create a family culture
This will look different for every single family. Decide what’s important to you and make it happen.
These are a few things that are part of our family culture:
- memorized family scriptures put to songs – we sing them before dinner every night
- monthly values (I wrote about that right here)
- family date nights every week (typically just out to dinner together)
- family movie night and homemade pizza on Friday
- family dinner every night at home
- reading together out loud before bed (see some of our favorite read aloud books here)
- celebrating random holidays (I wrote about that right here)
These are the things that they’ll remember and will keep them wanting to come back home and be at home.
8. Teach them self sufficiency and that they are capable!
I love serving my kids, but I want to teach them they are capable of doing things on their own.
Here are a few things we do to help them learn self sufficiency:
- When we go out to a restaurant, they have to speak to the waiter and give their order
- Our family economy work and pay system — they earn money and then pay for their “wants” (eventually they’ll pay for their needs, but we’re not quite there). I wrote about our family economy system HERE.
- They often help in the kitchen and learn to cook
- We have weekly Saturday chores (that are unpaid) that teach them that they are part of the family and help our home run
- they have quiet time daily where they have learned to play by themselves and use their imagination. No screens allowed during quiet time – they learn to entertain themselves. (I wrote about quiet time right here)
- They are assigned to be a “trainer” to a sibling when learning a new task (Fos for some reason loves to be the trainer to teach his brothers how to clean the toilets — he’s the master in our house!)
- They teach lessons during our weekly family home evening (more about that here)
- They lead the discussion during our nightly scripture study
9. Teach them a sense of right without bribes or threats
Bribing and threatening my kids has never sat right with me. I want them to learn how to be good because they want to be good. Not because I’m threatening them. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of this, and definitely takes some conscious parenting.
Sometimes it takes a conversation about why, and sometimes it takes patience as the parent to wait until they are ready to actually be obedient or choose the right. But I promise when they do things because of their internal compass, it’s 1000x better than coercion.
10. Let them be little.
This is one of the most important things for me. Kids grow up so fast today, and I just want my kids to have the chance to be little while they’re little. It’s gone too fast.
We do our kids a disservice by pushing them to grow up too fast. There is plenty of time to be a grown up. I think the more free time, play time, reading time, and happy time they have, the better adults they will be.
We spend a lot of time outside, riding bikes, playing at the park, going for walks or hikes. We snuggle up and read books in front of the fire. We play card games. We play imagination. We really limit screen time, and just let them use those big imaginations.
Childhood is magical, and as a parent raising boys, I want to let that magic last just a little bit longer.
BONUS #11: Let them be themselves.
As my boys get older, it’s so fascinating to watch them become their own people. They have their own interests, their own passions, personalities, and quirks. Instead of trying to push them to become what I want them to be, I’m trying to let go of the reigns and let them become who they really are.
It’s hard, as a parent, to not want them to be a certain thing, or push them to do things the way you did (or didn’t do). But every child is an individual and deserves to be given the space to follow their dreams and their own path. We can guide and support, but we can’t choose for them.
These are some fantastic resources for raising children (not just raising boys):
- How to Raise an Adult – I just listened to this book on audible and it’s fantastic. Full of great advice for not over parenting. Highly recommend.
- The Secrets of Happy Families – I listened to this twice during quarantine last year and absolutely loved it. So many practical stories and tips to help us all have happier families.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – A classic book and great advice for yourself and parenting.
- Simply on Purpose – an instagram account with daily instagram story content about parenting purposefully. I’ve learned so much of what I do from her!
- The Read Aloud Family
- Dr. Meg Meeker – she’s a pediatrician and has a great podcast called Parenting Great Kids. This episode on raising boys is great.
I totally agree in avoid saying I can’t. I’ve learnt to use positive speaking. For example, if he must do his homework but want to play, I tell him he can play after he finishes his tasks, instead of ‘you can’t play right now’. It’s incountable the amount of times de say don’t or can’t and that just put the emphasis in the negative when the best os focusing in the positive.
Thank you so much! I really admire you!
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This was beautiful. thank you! You’ve given me a lot of food for thought.
Merrick’s art is such an informative and amusing forum where I learned many life hacking skills and ideas. It is challenging for parents to adopt productive approaches for raising the boys but you provide true guideline in the shape of tips. I was researching for such parenting approaches and visited essaywritingnz.com/ website to learn more to prepare my research papers on this topic.
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I just wanted to sAy i loved this post. So much here that i want to establish in my own family as kids come along. I really admiRe your INTENTIONAL APPROACH to Parenthood and love when you share about it. Thanks!
Ps just found out im having a baby boY aNd yoU are such good boy-mom inspiration! 🙂
We have a saying on repeat with ouR boys (11, 9yo twins, 7) “actions Have conseQuences” which fits in almost all situations 😉 we use it for positiVe and also the power of personal choice to choose what reSponse we get!
We alSo love Maggie Dent’s “MotheriNg our Sons” or her semiNar “Boys, boys, boys” – so entertaining and relatAblE!
Love hearing other boy-moms’ tips and thoughts, thanks!
i loved this article, merrick. I am the mom of one boy and I agree with all of this. I just need to work on making him play on his own more, which is difficult without siblings, because during the school breaks I really get out of all routines, which is okay for a while, but after a week i can see that we are all getting frustrated with having to come up with what to do next.