Bonding over Xbox: Building activity-based relationships with boys

Looking for ways to bond with your son, grandson or nephew? Do something together. This article will help you find ways to grow closer together and have a lot of fun in the process.

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  • I grew up in a family of four girls and one boy. My brother is the youngest, so he was subjected to lots of dress up and make believe play. Now I’m a mother of three girls and one boy, and I want to make sure my son has a good relationship with me. I’ve had to learn to be involved and interested in the things he likes, even if they are foreign to me. These tips will help anyone hoping to strengthen their relationship with a boy.

  • Do your homework

  • Learn what your son (or nephew or grandson) is interested in. Ask him questions about the games and toys he enjoys. Have him show you his Lego collection or favorite superhero. Try to learn more about what he likes. Sometimes boys know every detail about their favorite thing, like dinosaurs, Star Wars or Pokemon. If you know even just a little bit, he’ll be impressed and feel that you care about him.

  • Jump in with two feet

  • It might feel unnatural to join in on boys’ play. Put your fears aside and just do it. I like to show my son and his friends that I can throw a football and wield a light saber. Even though I’m not great at it, my enthusiasm makes up for my ignorance. When you do something with a child, what they want most is for you to be engaged.

  • Act interested until you are

  • So video games aren’t your thing, or you don’t really want to play with tiny figurines. That’s not important. What is important is that the boy in your life has your attention. Once you pick up the toy and start playing, or grab the blocks and start building, you might find it’s more fun than you thought. I’ve enjoyed building complicated K’nex sets with my son, and he gets a kick out of me trying to play video games with him.

  • Meet in the middle

  • Find common ground with your son. Since he likes video games and we both like to dance, we enjoy playing dance video games together. We both like to run and ride bikes, so we can do those things together as well. Discovering common interests and developing them together will be positive for both of you. Some of these activities can be done throughout your lives, like fishing or playing a sport.

  • Teach him something

  • Don’t assume your son or grandson is only interested in certain things. He may want to learn a skill that you have, like crocheting, sewing, cooking or baking, painting or woodwork. I’m slowly teaching my son how to babysit and play with his younger sisters. We also have fun in the kitchen making treats.

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  • Make time

  • Kids are savvy about parental put-offs. If you plan on playing a video game or shooting hoops at the park, do it. If you need to, schedule time in your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. Knowing time with him is a priority will make your son feel special.

  • Listen

  • While you’re enjoying your activities together, make sure to listen and let your son talk. He might want to concentrate on the game or task at hand, but he also might want to open up about his hopes and concerns. Making your time together a safe time to talk and listen is important.

  • There are many benefits to having a healthy relationship with the boys in your life. To cite one, a study reported on CNN.com notes that teen boys who spend more time with their dads have higher self esteem. Time with moms may lead to less depression. Other benefits include learning more about each other, having fun, being active and learning new things.

  • Choose an activity and get started. You’ll both end up having a great time.

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Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.

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