30 March 2008

Help me, mothers of boys!

I know I could probably just spend a while researching this on the internet, but I'd prefer to deal with anecdotal evidence instead...
Moms of boys -- have you found that your little guys need a certain amount of physical play from you in order to function well?
I ask this because Daniel was fussy/ punky today. I tried kissing him and feeding him and walking around with him and singing to/ dancing with him. All were temporary fixes. In frustration, I held him by his hips upside down in front of my face and started tickling him and kissing him and he started laughing. For the next 30 minutes, I flipped him around and tickled him and had him doing gymnastics and basically doing what my Gramps and Dad always call "getting worked over." He was laughing and happy the whole time. And he didn't want to stop, but my wrist was killing me, so we had to stop. After that, he was pretty content, though he kept coming over to me to wag his head and get some more tickling.
It occurred to me that long ago I heard that boys tend to form intimacy in relationships through physical play, while girls tend to form intimacy through verbal interaction. It makes sense to me that rough-housing would be helpful for a little guy. But I am the eldest of four girls. Our physical contact was either loving or such that Roo and I still bear scars from each other's fingernails. It wasn't playful that I really recall (correct me if I'm wrong, Mom).
Any mothers out there find that your boys need a different kind of physical contact from you than your girls do?


Sarah said...

Oh my word, YES!
We tease that LittleMan's love language is wrestling. I can honestly see a night-and-day difference when he hasn't gotten a chance to do something physically exerting. During the bad storms here, we were cooped up and spent a lot of time painting pictures. That was plenty of freedom and movement for my little girl, but I had to send my son running up and down the stairs chasing bad guys before he could really "settle" into the afternoon. I'm sure you've heard it a thousand times, but Dobson's Bringing Up Boys is enlightening as is Wild at Heart. But our favorite has been The Making of a Modern Day Knight because it gives an idea of not just why boys need different expressions from girls but how to provide those.
A good throw-down in the living room is always appreciated, too. :)

Kalin said...

Yes. I find that if I chase Huckleberry Finn around, grab him and pinch his belly, poke him out from behind the stove with a broom or shake a Wal Mart bag around for him to tackle, we bond a lot better because he's less likely to bite my feet when I'm on the computer. Your mileage may vary.

elizabethsmith said...

i agree with sarah and kalin. all three of my boys need to run and wrestle and run and eat and run (all within one day) in order to sleep well every night. if they've had no physical activity/exercise, they sleep poorly, are up early and are crabby.
this is why winter is so hard on me! :)

April said...

Thanks, Sarah and Liz, for your wisdom. Kali, um... thanks. I can see that your FERRET has provided you a lot of fodder for sage advice. Excellent.

musicmommy3 said...

A million times YES!

Ok so I have only boys but all three need it. Judah seems to need it more than the others but even Thomas and Gideon require it lots too. Even though they have each other they still seem to want it from me. :)
(which is fine for me since I had a brother and grew up playing with almost all boys. BRING IT ON!!)
Sarah that wrestling love language thing was really funny and your book recs were great too. :)

The Waltons said...

Yes! About every night, mine says to anyone who'll listen, "Let's wrestle!" The thing is, now his sister tends to want in on it as well!

A. Lin said...

My boys (ages 5 and 2 1/2) don't need the wrestling although they are thrilled with daddy comes home and rough-houses with them. Both of my boys' personalities are more laid back. So I wouldn't say this physical activity is always true. I do find that my boys like to be off playing together for a while and then come to mama for some hugs--then they run away again.

I'll have to see how boy #3 is after he gets here in about 5 more weeks. He may be my rough-houser.

I don't buy into everything that Dobson says about bringing up boys or what Eldridge says in Wild at Heart. A boy's personality is not set in stone because of the Y chromosome. I think it is important to recognize and appreciate all of our sons for the unique creations they are.

April said...

This is good to know. I think, because my whole world was girly, AND because my first child is a girl, that I am going to need a little more guidance with Mr. D. I may have to tap into your-all's wisdom again!

Ann Kroeker said...

My friend with two boys says absolutely, positively yes. In fact, she adds that time outside expending energy is doubly effective.

I have three girls and a boy, and my boy is quiet and reflective and not at all the stereotypical stick-wielding, high-energy, wrestling kind of kid, so I can't offer much for your anecdote-gathering (Wild at Heart/Bringing up Boys/Modern-Day Knight fans, please don't attack me). However, I've noticed that at certain stages and ages, *all* of my kids, girls and boys, benefit from getting out and running around.

For that matter, we *all* benefit from burning up some calories and getting our blood pumping--even grownups!

I doubt if I've contributed much to the conversation...only to promote movement and exercise for all.

Mandy said...

Yes, yes, yes, and yes again. My boys have to have some sort of outlet for physical play EVERYDAY. If we don't get outside or physical, we will have a long night. My three and two year old are very active and need to be constantly moving. Not a problem for me...it makes the days go by faster!

Marlaine said...

To answer your question first, I found that my boys needed more physical play, period. It didn't necessarily have to be from direct interaction with me. They learned early on that Daddy was the fun on the floor man, and Mommy was the laughing safety zone on the couch they eventually ran to squealing, so they could catch their breath and then turn right around and dive back down on the floor with Daddy for a while. I see it as the best of both worlds! ;-) I've only recently found your blog (enjoying it!), and as the mom of four, (boy, girl, boy, boy; 20, 18, 13, 11 ), the boys in this household are "hands on", physical creatures (ok, sometimes the correct term IS animals, oy!) My daughter's accompanying girlhood soundtrack was the little songs and voices she made up for all her dollys and stuffed animals. My boys all came complete with motor sounds, WAAAY more energy, and this innate urge to wrestle! (Can't relate!) I once saw a homemade film about homesteading in the Yukon Territory in which the family learned that if they didn't go outside every day during the winter (even when it was -50 below!) they got cabin fever. This is SO true with my kids! So, let me encourage you, (mental health tip!) even if you spend an hour getting them ready to spend only 20 minutes outside on a wintry/blustery day, IT'S WORTH IT!! And, as your kids get older, especially with boys, it's amazing how much more they will open up and talk with you when you are sharing a task. Somehow keeping their hands busy loosens up their mouths--but if you're not right there with them you'll miss it.