Welcome to Week 4 of our Raising Boys series. If you’d like to read previous posts, you can catch up at Raising Boys!
Foreign to the world of boys and testosterone?
I once read an article on testosterone, that forever changed how I understand my boys. Well, my oldest son, and my husband. It will definitely help with my three month old son too, as he grows up. Knowing that testosterone changes at different ages, and understanding when, and how, can help us moms (and dads) realise that our son’s behavior isn’t always based solely on their character (or lack thereof), or our parenting skills.
I like to relate it to PMS, or PMT. Right?! Can we always be perfectly in control of our emotions when crazy hormones are in control of our bodies? Of course not. There’s only hope with huge amounts of chocolate and a red flag warning everyone to steer clear of mom for those day(s) 😉
The same goes for boys. There are certain ages where testosterone peaks and they seem to transform before our eyes. I saw this slogan at the back of a 4×4 once, and it makes me smile when i think of it. It’s apt for boys some days: Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up & Hold On.
I can definitely relate to the HOLD ON part some days.
Steve Biddulph in his book Raising Boys, says the following about testosterone and it’s peaks in boys: (summarized)
In The Womb
Did you know that all creatures start life being female? The Y chromosome that makes a baby a BOY is an ‘add-on’ chromosome which starts to act in the womb at around the eighth week of pregnancy, giving the boy the extra bits he needs in order to be a boy, and stopping the other bits growing. Once a baby’s testicles are formed (by the fifteenth week) they begin making testosterone too, and the baby boy becomes more and more masculine. This won’t really affect us moms just yet; all we really have to ‘deal with’, testosterone-wise, is planning for a blue bundle of joy 🙂
When a baby boy’s born, he has as much testosterone in his bloodstream as a twelve year old boy! He’s needed all this testosterone to develop male qualities in time to be born.
At Three Months
By this age, the testosterone levels in a baby boy will drop off to about a fifth of the level at birth. For the next few years, testosterone levels will stay quite low. The testosterone won’t be too noticeable just yet..
At Age Four
At this age, boys will get a huge surge of testosterone – almost double their levels. Dads especially could love this – more fighting and wrestling, and active boy-dad activities 🙂 This is the age boys will use your lounge suite as a jungle gym, beds as trampolines and burglar bars on windows as ladders. Trips to the emergency room for bouts of stitches may be needed randomly too 🙂
At Age Five
At this age, the testosterone level drops by fifty percent. calming a boy down enough for school, but still keeping him interested in active activities.
At Ages 11-14
Somewhere between these ages, testosterone levels rise sharply again. By age 14, testosterone levels hit a peak – a boy’s testosterone levels are 800% over the level of toddlerhood.This results in a sudden growth and lengthening of his arms and legs (so much so that his nervous system has to rewire itself!) This can make a 13 year old boy disorganised and ‘dopey’ for many months. Take heart in knowing it’s testosterone, not parental failure, changing your sweet natured boy into a stranger.
Catering for the changes
Don’t make it personal
Your son’s probably as overwhelmed about the changes in himself, as you are. But if you learn WHEN to expect them, and in which ways, you can be prepared. Try not to make it about HIM as a person; but rather, because you know when to expect it, love him through it and let him know it’s happening to him, not because he’s turned into a rebel, although of course you’ll have to be wise as to when he’s really being naughty.
Don’t take it personally
If you’re expecting the testosterone surge, it won’t catch you off guard. A sudden and wild change in attitude co-inciding with the above ages may just be a testosterone surge, and not a reflection on you as a parent. Find the new ‘norm’, keep the lines of communication open with your son, take it in your stride. And up your chocolate intake if need be. Keep calm and tackle the testosterone 🙂
Keep family informed
Support from family can be a great help when trying to keep a four year old ‘calm’ at home, or a thirteen year old out of trouble or focused. If family members all know what changes are going to happen and when, you can also make sure everyone is in agreement on how to treat and view these changes. It’s no use upping the activity in the household with your four year old, and then having other family members who don’t understand the testosterone surge, calling your son ‘naughty’ or a ‘terror’.
Get dad involved
Once dad knows what to expect at what ages, he can help out more too. A four year old full of energy can be taken on outings with dad, help out in the garden and play soccer instead of ‘sitting’ at home doing calmer things he used to enjoy. Dads can really take full advantage of the ‘peak’ years in directing and moulding their sons. And having dad around when a four year old is bossing around his siblings and jumping off cupboards is very handy too! My four year old seems to respond a whole lot better to his dad’s authority and testosterone than he does my soft approach. Man, am I grateful for dads! 🙂
I hope these testosterone peak ages have given you some insight, if you don’t already know about them. They are really worth looking into further, as well as discussing with your spouse. An approach that is preplanned is sure to be a winner!
<< Last Week: How to Sweep the Mom Guilt Out of Your Life
>> Next Week: 4 Important Tools to Successfully Teach Boys
Recommended reading as mentioned in the Raising Boys Series.
- Bringing Up Boys
- Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different – and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men
- Bringing Up Boys ~ Parent Workbook
- The 5 Love Languages of Children
- Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul
- Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan
- Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children
- Building Confidence in Your Child
- Parenting Isn’t for Cowards: The ‘You Can Do It’ Guide for Hassled Parents from America’s Best-Loved Family Advocate
- The Power of a Praying® Parent (Power of Praying)