Communicating with Boys

Communicating with boys is a skill

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 on communication and the fact that I constantly have communication fails both with the boys and the husband I have built up my knowledge of communicating with boys.  So this post are things I have learnt along the way and that 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 my boys are teenagers they will sink into that non communicative phase and that 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. 

If you are enjoying this post you may also find this one super useful when raising your boys 

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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 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.

  2. 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!


  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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

  8. 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 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.

    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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

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