There’s a saying that when you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. It’s the same with parenting. When we fail to set a mission or goal in training our children, we miss the target. Parenting offers an awesome and rich opportunity for us to shape future generations. Our legacy and values will continue to pass on to our children and our grandchildren.
As I was writing this article, I watched my five-year-old son eating popcorn. He asked me what I was doing. I told him, “I’m writing something about raising boys.” He smiled as he chewed his popcorn, asking, “How do you do that?” That caught my nine-year-old son’s attention. He commented, “Whatever you write, don’t write anything that is embarrassing to me!” Boys. Aren’t they cute?
I offer you my non-embarrassing suggestions for training your boys to be good men.
Teach Them to Play Within the Playing Field
We must teach boys to respect authority and to follow the rules. My nine-year-old said, “If you don’t follow the rules, you will be sent to the principal’s office.” Some unwanted outcomes may take place when a child fails to learn this lesson at a young age. Some men challenge the authorities in a disrespectful manner such as arguing with a police officer for traffic violation.
Personal boundaries teach us to respect our own and other’s physical and personal space. Boys need to know where the line is drawn so that they can play safely within the line.
Teach Them to Apologize
Parents should teach boys at a young age to admit their mistakes and apologize to others when appropriate. A common problem in relationship comes when a husband or father is unable or unwilling to apologize. Tell your boys, “It takes a strong man to say ‘I’m sorry.’”
Teach Them to Use Words of Appreciation
Constructive communication can help a man achieve a higher probability of success. Often, using words of appreciation strengthens teamwork. Train your boys to use words of appreciation. Make your home a nurturing environment to cultivate the frequent use of kind words. Teach your boys to verbalize their appreciation for their parents, who are working to support the family both within and outside of the home. Teach them to say encouraging words to their siblings and peers as well.
Build Their Self-Confidence
Watch your boys’ efforts in various areas (sports, friendships, school), and praise them for the positive behaviors you see. For example, “Son, I noticed that you listened to your coach very attentively, and you practiced hard. You’re a great team player.” Don’t give them empty praises just to make them feel good—go the extra mile to be specific. Avoid the common mistake of focusing on what they are not doing right.
Strengthen Their Resilience
Often, children give up easily once they find themselves not doing as well as someone else. Teach your boys to successfully recover after an upsetting event or circumstance. Catch them as they recover from difficulty and encourage them with a statement such as, “I always admire how you can bounce back quickly.”
These are some of my perspectives on training your boys to become good men. Please make each moment count in passing on your legacy. You can shape future generations right in your own home.
Gloria So-Lloyd, Ph.D., LCSW, is a Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Counseling and Consulting Offices at Stonebridge in Edmond (CCOffices.com). She and her husband are the grateful parents of four young sons.