I’ve been wanting to read Janet Allison‘s new book, Boys Alive!: Bring Out Their Best!, for months. Thankfully I got my chance during my journey to New Hampshire and I couldn’t wait to share with you some of the gems from it.
Janet created this book in a coaching style so it really allows you to reflect on your boy through journaling. If you’re struggling with your relationship, or with his behavior, there’s space for you to think more deeply about each.
I love that Janet reminds us that we can’t change our behavior without knowing what we want and how we ultimately envision the home or school life that we want for ourselves and our children. You always need a map or at least a GPS to help get you to your destination!
Some of the amazing gems in this book that will help me communicate more effectively with both my husband and my little boy that will be helpful to you as well…
- Eye contact can trigger a flight or fight response in males. We talked about this actually at my Simplicity Parenting training in Seattle. Kim Payne explained that we should encourage the women in our groups to consult with their husbands while taking a walk or sitting side-by-side on the couch.
- Use less words. This is such a powerful reminder, especially to us as mothers. We tend to over-explain and describe EVERYTHING in too much detail. Keep it brief and clear.
- Speaking with authority without anger is the goal. Janet has some great exercises in the book to help us learn this skill.
- Eliminate or decrease screen time. I learned so much from Janet explaining that our boys’ brains are very delicate. We need to treat our boys’ brains as delicately as we, at times, treat girls physically. Screens cause unbelievable havoc on the boy brain, neurologically.
- This was my favorite nugget of wisdom…males have a daily testosterone cycle! In the morning they experience a surge of testosterone and they are more likely to be more “aggressive, ambitious and determined, with a feeling of confidence and a competitive edge.” In the afternoon they are “more agreeable to suggestions, less aggressive and less defensive.” And in the evening it rises again but lowers around 8pm. “Oxytocin, the ‘tend and befriend’ hormone, rises and men are more likely to talk about feelings and resolve conflicts…”
- Boys express themselves in physical ways and this can be particularly alarming as a mom because physical aggression makes us feel uncomfortable. You can help your little boy by giving him words to express how he feels, “Wow! You love your little brother you just want to squeeze him tight. But look! Squeezing that tight doesn’t feel good to baby Sam. He really loves it when you kiss his hand gently like this.”
- It’s so easy for us to communicate with our boys like they are girls – in too much detail and ask too many questions about their feelings. Instead of saying, “how do you feel about that,” we want to ask, “what do you think about that.” Our boys need us to speak with authority, with clear rules, and to consistently follow-through when they are not listening.
- When we yell and act aggressively toward our boy, it only releases more cortisol into their bloodstream which increase their stress and more testosterone! Yeah, so they then become more likely to become even more challenging and aggressive.
- Guess what? This was mind-blowing and incredibly helpful, Janet…moms, boys “naturally have less oxytocin, which makes them slower to respond to others with empathy. They are also less likely to see how their behavior impacts their relationship with others.” So, you need to say, “Being rough with your baby sister makes her sad and she cries. If you want her to smile and laugh you could stand here and show her this toy she likes to look at, but you have stand back and do it so you can see her face and she can see you.”
I can’t say enough about what a helpful guide this book is for all parents, but particularly for mothers – we will have a lot more success with our boys if we know how to connect with them, understand why they do what they do.
Janet convinced me too that I need to buy Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different – and how to help them become happy and well-balanced men by Steve Biddulph.
It is so supportive to have information like this explained in simple terms so that parents can implement effective ways to handle the challenges they are experiencing and have the confidence to explain what they’re doing to those around them who may not know that consistent, loving, and firm teaching is the best method of discipline.
Thanks Janet Allison for this wonderful workbook for parents of boys!
You can also listen to the podcast of Janet and I discussing her work at
Raising Boys Podcast on Inside Out Mama Blog Talk Radio
Stay tuned! There will, obviously, be another podcast with Janet scheduled soon.