In Safe Hands Newsletter – February 2023

I hope you are all enjoying a positive start to the new year and are avoiding all the bugs and viruses out there at the moment.

This month, I am talking about ‘How to help Boys Thrive’ and also encouraging you, as a parent, to reflect upon your own self-care needs.

Helping Boys Thrive
As parents, we all want our children to thrive. Understanding how our children learn best enables us to set up an environment which is conducive to learning and supports development. If we understand how children learn, we can help nurture in a secure and stimulating way, whilst acknowledging that boys and girls do learn in different ways.

This month, we are focusing on boys.
The following are ways in which we can help boys do better in school (Golon, 2006):and support learning in the home:

  1. Allow for ample hands-on learning opportunities.
  2. Maintain a sufficient level of challenge – boredom comes more quickly to boys.
  3. Give them plenty of workspace.
  4. Allow and encourage physical movement. This helps to stimulate and provides oxygen to the brain.
  5. Use symbolism, including diagrams, charts, graphs and use more images.
  6. Use computers and other media as often as possible.

Generally, fine motor skills develop later in boys than girls. Rather than focus on writing skills, which can be really challenging for boys, provide activities which support this area of learning but in fun, active and physical ways.

  • Set up obstacle courses.
  • Provide LEGO and other small construction materials.
  • Help them to learn how to ride a bike.

Boys produce less serotonin and oxytocin than girls which makes it more of a challenge to sit still. Naturally, a traditional classroom can have expectations that children should sit and listen and this can create situations where behaviour is inappropriate. If this is your child, talk to the school and ask if there is a way that, when your son starts getting fidgety, they can (with permission) get up and move around. Having a cue card can help children communicate their need to move.

Children in general are much more likely to be motivated with their learning when the subject interests them. But boys in particular thrive when opportunities are created to pursue interests and hobbies. As a family, try to bring experiences and materials so your son can experiment, explore, discover and problem solve through topics he has interested in.

Make sure (and this applies to all children) that you provide plenty of outdoor, physical play periods. Have equipment or activities which allow for physical movement but also bring them in touch with the natural world. You can also do some grounding/mindfulness activities outside to help the brain refocus.

They don’t listen to me!
In case you wonder why sometimes it feels like your son doesn’t listen, this can be physiological. Girls have a sense of hearing that is 2-4 times better than boys. The male voice is more audible than the female voice. This may explain why in school the same issue happens, particularly in Pre-School and Primary ages where there is a greater percentage of female teachers. (John F Corso)

When you are speaking to children, always approach them, get down to their level so that they are clued in to you wanting to communicate with them. Try to avoid calling from across the room.

Most parents are taking on several roles each day. This includes being a parent, partner, employee and/or employer and it can be easy to miss what we need personally to survive and thrive.

I have put together a list of questions to help you reflect on how and whether you are meeting your own physical, emotional and mental needs. From your answers, try to put together your own action plan on how to address any areas you feel could be improved, for the sake of your mental and physical health.

  1. What is the most helpful thing you are doing for yourself?
  2. Are you getting some time outside every day?
  3. What are your sleeping patterns like? Do they reflect your personal sleep needs?
  4. Are you eating a balanced diet and incorporating exercise in to each day?
  5. What gets in the way of taking care of yourself?

Then ask yourself: What would be your most ideal self care routine? What would be one step you could take to start?

Next month, I will be asking you more questions along these lines but we will focus on Emotions, Thoughts and Behaviours.

In the meantime, if you are a new parent, you can read my latest blog post which contains a list of Top Tips that might be useful! If you wouldn’t mind sharing this blog post with your friends, that would be great!

Until then!