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10 tips to groom your son well
Richa Pant

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September 05, 2006

We recently gave you tips on how to bring up your girl child to be a smart, independent and confident young woman. Now, we do the same for young parents with sons. Here are some areas in which you can groom your little boy:

1. Imbibing confidence

If your son is confident, he will have faith in his own abilities and not be worried about dealing with new situations. "Keep activities like watching television and playing computer games to a minimum, as they don't promote the development of social behaviour," says Anupam Misra, a 28-year old executive with a private bank in Delhi with a four-year-old son.

"Encourage him to participate in extra-curricular activities. If he is trying something new, give him plenty of support and tell him you are confident he will succeed," says Madhu Srivastava, 26. She is a teacher based in Lucknow and has a three-year-old boy.

2. Being independent

"Parents tend to pamper their sons a lot more than their daughters," feels Rishi Gupta, 29, a manager in a telecom company. He has a five-year-old son.

Teaching a son that no one else is responsible for maintaining his things makes life easier on both his mum and future life partner. Besides, if he has to live alone at any point, he will not find it too difficult. Teach him the 'House Rule' -- if he makes a mess, he must clean it up.

By allocating small tasks for him to accomplish on his own right from childhood, he will learn how to become independent. Being over-protective sends the message that you don't think he is capable of handling things by himself.

3. Accepting responsibility

He must be accountable for his own actions. Of course, this applies to boys as well as girls. Start teaching him to take responsibility for his actions early on.  

4. Learning to respect women

"This learning must start at home," feels Anupam.

Parents can be the best agents of social change. They can bring up their sons to be understanding, kind and respectful towards women.

Start by inculcating basic respect for others. Be a role model. "Your son will learn what respect means by observing how you treat other people," says Rishi.

Make respect a permanent way of dealing with people, whether you're talking to customer representatives, waiters at restaurants, or with your family at the dinner table.

5. Being expressive

"Boys are usually not encouraged to develop qualities such as compassion, sensitivity and warmth, but this neglects their emotional needs," says Preeti. They learn that expressing certain emotions or showing weakness is inappropriate, and wear a mask of toughness, suppressing their true feelings.

"Encourage him to recognise and express how he feels, whether the feeling is good or bad. Listen to what your son tells you, and look for messages even in silence or outbursts," she says.

6. Learning household chores

"Boys must understand that chores are not just for women," says Preeti. Something as simple as setting the dinner table helps a child learn he has a contribution to make.

Teaching your son how to do household chores can really be helpful, especially if you are a working mom. "Boys and girls should learn the same kinds of household chores and share the same kind of family responsibilities," adds Rishi.

7. Cultivating friendships

Making good friends is important. "Keep an eye on the type of friends he makes, as his young mind can be easily influenced by peer pressure," advises Madhu. Invite his friends over once in a while and get involved in their activities.

8. Eating healthy

The best thing you could do for your son is make sure he has a balanced diet and eats a variety of food.

Some foods that some children do not have enough of are milk, fruit and vegetables. "Also, try having a quiet meal with your son. This will help both of you to relax," says Anupam.

9. Exercising effectively

Childhood obesity is on the rise, and sedentary behaviour (like watching television and playing video games) are a contributing factor.

If you suspect your son is not getting enough exercise, you are right to be concerned. "Encourage your son to get involved in physical activities he enjoys, whether it's a team sport like basketball or football, or just cycling with friends," says Preeti.

10. Be there for your son

"Take a family walk before dinner. Play some music and demonstrate some dance steps. Go cycling. Blow bubbles and chase them around," says Madhu.

Try your best to be there as much as possible because, if it boils down to just one thing you can do, this comes out tops. The time doesn't necessarily have to be spent in activities. "Just being there for your son is crucial," says Preeti.

Do you have a boy child? Share your tips and experiences.

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