Families with boys
“Parents can help nurture the brains of baby boys by talking to them right from birth,” says Whitcombe-dobbs. “Engaging with children face-to-face and responding to their verbal cues with imitation and smiles helps them learn to regulate their emotions. Nursery rhymes and songs are also great for speech development.” As boys venture into toddlerhood, it’s important for parents and caregivers to be encouraging of their emotions and show them sympathy and comfort when upset, just like with young girls. This all assists in developing their emotional intelligence. “Labelling emotions and giving children time to cope with them helps them understand their feelings,” adds Whitcombe-dobbs. “As babies grow into toddlers, parents can help by listening to them, describing to them what they are doing and repeating their words back to them, which supports language development and predicts how easily children learn to read and succeed at school.” The key point to remember, however, is to consider each individual child and their personality. Discover their interests, regularly offer new age-appropriate experiences and allow them to freely explore your world.
It’s a daily practice of which Wanaka mum Alice Mason is mindful. Exploration and adventure are top priorities for her two little lads, three-year-old Riley and 14-month-old Monty. “The boys are always very busy and full of adventure, fun, noise, mess, laughter and sandy, muddy, wet laundry – lots of it!” she says. “I feel like the boys bring out my silly, crazy side. They’re great mates and Monty certainly looks up to his big brother. I’m constantly in awe of their creativity, imagination, determination and warm hearts.” Alice and her husband Blake find that keeping the boys amused usually requires physical activity of some description. They love to be outside and enjoy going for walks with their dog, riding bikes, throwing rocks in the lake, playing in the sandpit or jumping on the trampoline. But they’re also big on offering indoor fun such as baking, building forts and creative or imaginary play. “What I’ve learnt from being a mum to boys is that sometimes it’s the simplest things that create the most joy. Dirt equals fun!” she says. “There’s also not a lot of drama with them – everything is pretty clear-cut. They do really love adventure and the outdoors, but they’re also very empathetic and affectionate and love cuddles with their mama too.”