I’m probably the last person who wants to make a distinction between parenting toddler boys versus girls. There are too many gender stereotypes that create foreshadowing in life.
Boys play with trucks. Girls play with dolls.
Boys wear blue. Girls wear pink.
Boys are rough. Girls are gentle.
Sometimes we use these stereotypes to explain why kids are the way they are (when in reality every kid is a unique individual).
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Sometimes we even use these stereotypes to inadvertently mold our children into them, which is the main reason I think we are all pushing for more gender neutral toys and trying our darnedest not to influence what a kid likes or doesn’t like.
I get it.
I tried long and hard to avoid listening to the phrase, “Oh, he’s such a boy.”
If you parent a toddler boy for long enough, you start to realize that there are a few things that are awfully boyish about boys. You hear it time and time again over the years—“Oh, he’s ALL boy.”
And I what finally decided to do was this — embrace the stereotypical boy characteristics and go with it.
Embrace the climb.
I gave up trying to prevent my toddler boy from climbing on things that were slightly risky. We go to the beach, and I let him climb on rocks that other parents might gasp at.
I let him stand on toys and stools to reach things higher up.
I let him climb atop the the playground equipment, trees and dirt piles that are perceived as “beyond his age”, and I stand by to see if he needs me.
Embrace the jump, throw and wrestle…
I let him jump on the bed and bounce around. I started letting him hop off curbs and picnic benches and playground equipment.
We even throw balls in the house. We try to keep it within reason, but indoor hockey, soccer and catch are not entirely off limits in our home.
Roughhousing with kids is a great way to release energy and build a physical connection and emotional bond with your child. We embrace the roughhousing and wrestling around here.
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Why embrace it all?
This is actually something Clare Caro put beautifully into words when she talked about schemas recently.
I had no idea what they were until she explained that “it’s really a fancy word for the urges that children have to do things like climb, throw things and hide in small places.“
In her post, Schemas in Children’s Play, she shares all the different urges children have and how to nurture them. I decided to give it a whirl.
Three things happened.
Part of what you learn is that embracing the urges—in a safe and responsible way—is vital towards helping our children thrive. These impulsive actions help children learn and understand the world around them.
1. He learned what climbing, jumping, throwing, and wrestling actually felt like.
He learned what those experiences actually involved. Allowing him to just go ahead, have at it, and experience those things quelled his urge to attempt them incessantly.
2. He learned the cause and effect of those actions.
He learned that when you jump from too high, you can fall and it hurts. Again, I let him fall down within reason. Bumps, bruises and scraps are part of our everyday home life. If true risk is present, he is coached towards how to make a safer choice or how to keep his body safe.
3. He became safer.
He developed his own watchful eye for which type of climb was safe and which type was too high or dangerous. More often than not, child will set exactly the right level of challenge for themselves. Kids aren’t able to make a safety judgment call correctly all the time.
But more and more, if you trust your kids, they will show you the right level of challenge for themselves. Often he is able to make better judgment calls when it comes to safety.
That’s the thing about parenting toddler boys.
No matter how hard you try, your child is who they are. The primal urge to do many things stereotypical of the boys is a hard one to avoid. There’s nothing wrong with simply embracing it.
But I will share one secret with you…
We also bought him a doll.
And helped him learn to give his baby a hug and a kiss and to be gentle.
Just to balance things out a bit.
He loves that baby doll almost as much as he loves climbing and jumping.
Print this free toddler listening checklist.
This post comes with a free printable checklist to help with toddler listening. I always have the hardest time remembering these phrases. This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
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- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
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