Communicating with Boys

As a mummy to boys for nearly seven years and a wife for nearly 10 years you’d think I might have some clue about communicating with boys. Yet I struggle every day.  I am entirely convinced that boys and girls communicate differently.  Before anyone gets all cross about this it doesn’t mean that I only talk to my girls about flowers, sparkles and pink stuff or that I think you need to be all tough and manly with boys.  In fact I think it is vitally important to get boys to communicate about feelings and develop their emotional intelligence.  I firmly believe that this is more necessary with boys than girls as we need to overcome the social condition of only girls cry! 

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As much as I try to effectively communicate with my boys I have found myself talking to them and wondering if I am simply speaking another language.  They just don’t seem to get what I am saying and look at me as if I just landed from outer space.  I include the husband in this ‘boys’ as he does often look very confused when I ask him to do something and for the life of me I can’t work out why.  Sometimes I just don’t know how else to say it…  In fact I often  just say it in German as if they feel like I am speaking a different language I might as well.  I hasten to add this does not work – they don’t speak German!

Communicating with boys

For this reason and to save myself from getting a little bit shouty I have been looking into communication theory and specifically how men and women differ.  It seems I am not mad we do communicate differently.  So despite being no expert and the fact that I constantly have communication fails both with the boys and the husband here are a few things I have learnt along the way and seem to work for me when communicating with boys. 


Check out the list below to see my top tips:

  • Low and slow 

    • My boys take their instruction better from my husband and after research I found out that men genuinely can’t process higher pitches and fast speech as well as if you speak low and slow.  I know I get high pitched if I am irritated so I try to slow it down
  • Be specific and direct 

    • Passive aggressive does not work.  If I hint about wanting something done and don’t issue a specific, time bound and direct request forget it – it won’t be happening
  • Ask for solutions not support 

    • Sometimes I just want empathy and a listener.  My husband frequently reminds me that this is not his department.  For this he tells me to call my mother or sister and see him about problem solutions.  I have been reading that the male gender are predisposed to create solutions and see this as a main purpose for communication.  There was me just thinking he was being an arse…
  • Talk on the move 

    • There is a theory that boys are generally more physical and kinetic in their thinking styles and so often process information better when on the move so if they are in trouble or its an important message and I need them to understand we walk and talk
  • The fewer words the better 

    • I totally lose the boys and my husband when I include too much detail.  I think they just get bored (sometimes I bore myself so I do get it!).  So short, sharp and direct seems to be the key
  • Use their names 

    • This sounds daft, but I often find myself going for the collective ‘boys’ and then no one does what I ask.  They each assume I am addressing the other so no one moves.  So even if I need both to do something I say each of their names and then sometimes just sometimes they do what I ask.  I think this applies to my girls too.
  • Role Model 

    • This is probably not a uniquely boy thing either! I have noticed that if I say ‘coats on everyone we are leaving now’ and I don’t have my coat on or am quickly doing something no one moves.  To me it is logical to do something whilst they put their coats on as I am quicker, but no this does not compute. However, if I stand at the front door with my coat on and say exactly the same words then voila movement commences.  It is like they need to see it to believe it.  I wonder do they think I am joking or just uncommitted if I am not doing what I am saying?

I am so aware that it really won’t be too long before these boys will be taller and stronger than me.  Then being able to effectively communicate will become even more vital in my opinion.  I get concerned that once this happens I just won’t be able to connect with them or ever get them to do the things I need.  It is so important to build that connection and respect level now so that in the future it is innate.  I also want them to know that they can talk to me and that it is OK to be sad or emotional.  Conversation is key to the expression of feelings and so I want to be able to communicate effectively around the small things in order to build trust for when bigger things come along.  I am continuing to work on my skills around communicating with boys and would love to hear if you have any gems that you use to help get your little or big boys to listen to you or just enhance your communication with them.

Boys feel free to comment too… Is there anything that we girls do when communicating that really doesn’t work for you?

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55 thoughts on “Communicating with Boys

  1. I couldn't agree with this post more! you're spot on here!!! #coolmumclub
    1. Thanks Nicole
  2. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you! I am a mom of 2 boys (12 and 14), am publushing a book (this summer) about raising boys, and am a communication studies professor. These are all great pieces of advice, and there are others, too. Let me know if you would ever want to collaborate.
    1. Thanks Diane. I would certainly be interested in collaborating. Maybe drop me an email kirsty@navigatingbaby.com
  3. great post - I have struggles communicating with my 8 year old daughter at the moment, she seems to have fast-forwarded to a teenager already!
    1. Thanks. My 2yr old girl seems like a teenager right now. I’m afraid for when she is actually 13
  4. WHAT AFUNNY YET INFORMATIVE POST! I LOVE YOUR TIPS ON COMMUNICATING WITH BYS AND WILL REMEMBER NOT TO USE MY HIGH PITCH ANNOYED TONE WITH MY PARTNER WHEN HES NOT DONE THE CHORES!!
    1. Thanks. I am glad you found it useful. I regularly forget my own advice and squawk quickly to non listening boys
  5. I have to be so specific when im talKing to my boyfriend esp when its asking him to do something so i get where youre coming from x
    1. When I forget to be specific my husband just fills in the blanks and goes off piste!
  6. These arw great tips, we all get a bit shrill when were starting tonget irritated and i know that with my boyfriend, the more precis you can be, the better.
    1. I am fairly sure only dogs and cats can hear me once I really get going ;)
  7. I think my husband is on another planet sOmetImes. Or he pretends he is. Ha ha.
    1. Sometimes mine would like to be
  8. Really interesting post ... as a man, let me confirm: we HATE passive aggressive and sarcasm in tone. Yes, more direct communication does help ... collaborative. And we do have quite the range of emotional intelligence, just not switched on all the time. Yes, we are a but different, but worth it!!! Hehe
    1. Love it! Thanks for commenting. My husband was the source of some of the ideas as he told me the things he found impossible when I talk to him #DreamTeam
  9. How interesting! It definitely is different communicating with my husband to women in my life and wires often get crossed. I'll be trying some of these out and seeing what happens :) #DreamTeam
    1. Oh yes do. Let me know how you get on. Thanks for joining us on the #DreamTeam
  10. After growing up in a family with only sisters, I have 3 boys and now 3 grandsons. I need these communication tips more than you can imagine! I still haven't figured out how to communicate with boys. Thank you!!!
    1. Ha ha! I will still be learning forever I think. Boys are a mystery!! #DreamTeam
  11. This made me laugh as i was having this conversation with my TeAcher Assistant today as The boys in the class were just in another planet! I have 4 and 5 year oLds this year, mainly boys and they just. Cant. Listen. fun thOugh! #dreamteam
    1. Glad to have amused ;) When my son was in reception last year I don't know how the teachers ever managed to get him and his friends to listen as they are all off with the fairies. They are very fun though #DreamTeam
  12. mhm maybe this doesn't just go for boys but grown men also, might try the low and slow approach and direct instruction approach :)
    1. Totally! Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  13. Have learned this over the years especially the slow and low voice for the children and the walking when wanting to talk about important stuff with my OH. Another thing on communication which is perhaps not a gender thing is about the language of love - apparently my OH uses acts of service whereas I prefer verbal praise - understanding that has helped our relationship a bit. Anyway good post that will help lots of mums #DreamTeam
    1. Thanks Kate. Love the language of love idea. How did you find out what they were? #DreamTeam
  14. As a first grade teacher, I can say yes to all these things. Boys are wired differently. #dreamteam
    1. Thanks so much for your comments. I am dead chuffed that you thought they were good ideas and are a teacher xx #DreamTeam
  15. Hi, I think these are good tips for all moms and even teachers too. I have daughters and think they're good tips.
    1. Thanks so much for your comments Janice and for being on the #DreamTeam this week
  16. This was so useful to read. I have a son, hes only a baby now but the tips are useful for when hes older. Thankyou x
    1. Thanks so much for your comments and I am thrilled that you enjoyed it. It really has helped with my sons and I started lots of the things when they were toddlers basically as soon as I could.
  17. Totally get this.and also totally agree that talking to the hubby is the same. Hinting doesnt cut it. You have to be direct and explicit in your instructions, or the jobs never get done! #DreamTeam
    1. Direct is the only way and time bound I have found. My husband needs me to say ' please do it now' that can't be implied : Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  18. This is so interrsting! I often wonder why it feels like i am talking to myself... thank you for sharing x #dreamteam
    1. I don't always remember these things in the moment, but when I do it really does seem to work Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  19. I didn't HAVE boys BUT NOW HAVE A DAUGHTERS BOYFRIEND OF 27LIVING WITH US and find COMMUNICATiNG WITH HIM ON WASHING UP A CHALLENGE. Do these rules apply for him?
    1. Totally! It works for my husband so I am going with all men! Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  20. This is such a helpful post. Wait as I am typing this, it is coming out as all caps. I do not know how to fix it and I hope it doesn't turn out all caps when published. Anyway, I am a boy mom and i agree...my boys communicate better with their father. I will try to speak low and slow. you know what, these tips could also work when I try to communicate with hubby! love this. Tweeted! #dreamteamlinky
    1. Ha ha! It wasn't all caps. THanks for much for your kind comments. I definitely use them with my husband in fact some of the ideas were his! Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  21. I couldn't agree with you more. i definitely change my tone and speed when talking to my boy as compared to my daughter. i feel i have to explain things that little bit more! #dreamteam
    1. It really does make a difference I find. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam with us
  22. This is such an interesting read! I only have one boy in the house (if you don't count Alfie the dog) and that's mr Button. Slow, low and not too many words... i bet this will work a charm. LOL! Fab post Kirsty. #dreamteam xx
    1. Thanks Annette. Give low and slow a try - I warn you you may feel like a dick, but it certainly works better than my usual shrieking tone ;) #DreamTeam
  23. The fewer words the better is definitely true! HUbster's eyes glass over when my instructions exceed 10 words. #BlogCrush
    1. tee hee!! My husband says all he hears in blah blah blah!!
  24. I am swinging back in with our awesome #DreamTeam linky!
  25. All the men in my house jsut don't listen to a word i say, thats part of the problem! Low and slow is agood point that may help them isten to the odd word i mutter hehe! #dreamteam
    1. Give it a whirl and let me know if it helps. It definitely works with my crew, but it is hard to remember to do when they are driving me bonkers!! Thanks for joining us on the #DreamTeam
  26. Well as a mom to girls I can't relate much to communicating with boys but i do know that my husband communicates different to our girls that what i do #dreamteam
    1. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam this week
  27. As a mum of 2 girls & 2 boy I totally get this! Boys are so different! #Dreamteam
    1. They really are a mystery to me sometimes! thanks for joining us on the #DreamTeam
  28. This is a really interesting post. I don't have boys myself (although I do have my husband), but I love that you took the time to find out why your words were getting lost in translation. This is something I feel really passionate about - we need to look beyond the surface behaviour and find out WHY our kids are acting and behaving in a certain way. And someone else obviously appreciated this post too because they chose to add it to the BlogCrush linky for you. Hurray! Feel free to pop over and collect your "I've been featured" blog badge #blogcrush
    1. Thanks so much Lucy. I am thrilled that I was added to #blogcrush

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