“At the age of four, for reasons nobody quite understands, boys receive a sudden surge of testosterone- doubling their blood levels.” (Raising Boys, Steve Biddulph)
Thank god I read this book before my oldest son turned the glorious age of four. It prepared me, somewhat, for what was about to hit us, smack between the eyes.
I’ve written before about age four being a completely golden time, with your ‘terrible two/threenager’ starting to settle, but what I neglected to mention was the bashing and crashing of this testosterone surge.
If you have a boy, you need to know this!
Testosterone effects mood and energy. I can almost predict when Angus is going through a surge. He eats EVERYTHING in the house. He wants to rough and tumble with EVERYONE and he basically can’t sit still.
So how do I deal with it?
According to Steve (my guru, Biddulph) “the boy with testosterone in his bloodstream likes to know who is the boss, but also must be treated fairly.”
“It gives him growth spurts, makes him want to be active, and makes him competitive and in need of strong guide lines and a safe, ordered environment.”
So, BOUNDARIES; this is a BIG ONE in our house. We have rules, which are basically centred around safety and respect.
If the kids are doing something dangerous, they get one warning, if they don’t listen, there are consequences. It’s that simple. Consequences in our house are time outs or quiet time, removal of stickers on rewards chart (or gaining stickers for good behaviour), removal of toys or outings.
WEAR THEM OUT; boys (and girls too, but really this article is about the little men in our life) need to expel energy. And boys going through a testosterone spurt, even more so.
If Angus is in that ‘I’ve just got to bang and crash into something’ kind of mood, I send him off to the trampoline to do it safely. We go to the park and for long scoots/bike rides a lot. We burn off steam.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE SURGE BUT REMEMBER THE SOFTNESS; while I know just how important testosterone is for little boys, I also want mine to have kindness, empathy and compassion. So I make sure this is a daily (or hourly) message. If they hurt one another, I explain how it made the other feel. There are consequences, but the explanation of “why it was wrong” is equally as important in my book. So are hugs.
Finally, by no means do I handle these surges perfectly. I try to remember the three points I made above, but sometimes it’s just downright frustrating and exhausting when your son goes through this stage. Remember it’s just another phase that will pass, and your happy and cuddly little guy will return before you know it.
So, how do you handle these growth spurts?