4 things Maggie Dent wants parents to know about raising boys

Posted in Learning and Development.

Maggie Dent has a passion for helping Australian parents raise resilient, strong and loving men. 

Her passion for helping boys comes from some alarming statistics. Boys are more likely to take greater physical risks, they’re more likely to get injured in accidents and sport and they face bigger mental health risks as they grow into men. 

When Maggie holds parenting lectures, the room is full of mostly women, mums wanting to get the best advice on parenting the opposite sex well, mums that want to avoid their boys becoming one of those statistics. 

Maggie joined us on the Feed Play Love podcast to share her thoughts on the differences between raising boys and girls, and shared her four top pointers for parents raising young men.

Listen to Maggie on Feed Play Love:

1. Help boys feel secure

Times have changed but still, boys and girls are treated very differently. Boys may be expected to be stronger than girls, but in reality they can feel berated and vulnerable in certain situations. Give your boy small cues so they know that they are loved, like a little tickle, a wink or a high-five. 

2. Use visual cues 

Boys develop language a lot later than girls, because they develop more in the right brain, as opposed to the left brain where linguistics are stronger. When they’re frustrated, they sometimes default to anger since they don’t have the words to express how they’re feeling. 

Use hand gestures in addition to speech to explain what you need or want them to do. Boys pick up visual signs more, so avoid calling out to them from another room.

3. Build bridges of connection 

Building little love bridges, or moments of connection, make boys feel like they matter. Boys need to see constant loving action as well as verbal affirmations of love. 

When boys are naughty it can feel like they’re intentionally being disrespectful, rude or forgetful. Reframe that idea and know that at times they really can only focus on one thing, and that they’re not good with change. If we understand how our sons process information, and that they are incredibly more forgetful than girls, more allowances can be made in a loving space, instead of in frustration. 

For example, try not to enquire about school immediately after the day has finished. He’s exhausted and needs time. Allow him to come to you when he’s ready to talk and create moments of loving connection that they can hold on to. 

little boy wanting to be picked up

4. Understand their physicality 

Men are biologically wired to be physical. They have a larger amygdala and more testosterone, so their play will often be rough. Every now and then it hurts, but they’re not good at judging that beforehand, because it requires reflection. Keep it safe by setting simple guidelines such as “try not to hurt yourself or others, or to damage things” – but also understand that this is just how many boys are built to play and learn.


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