Loving: A Novel By Corin Hughs

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys!

David Thomas is co-author of Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. Don’t you just LOVE the title of the book? Yes, boys ARE wild! And, yes, I want in on the secret to nurturing my wild things!wild things cover

I have not read his book (yet), but I’m sure it expands on all that you are about to read. This is, essentially, the cliff notes version of his book. These are my notes from a session taught by David Thomas at dotmom this past weekend. He’s funny, smart, wears black-rimmed glasses, jeans with a button-down and tie and has a wealth of info, stats, stories and ideas about boys! As a dad of twin boys and a counselor in Nashville, he has experiences and facts to back up his words.

Oh, and he is a man so I can conclude he must have been a boy a couple decades ago and knows the workings of a boys mind. Something I don’t know first hand!

I soaked in every word he said, nodding as he spoke, thinking about my own little wild things!

Parents of boys, teachers or boys, anyone who knows a boy…take five minutes and read this!

Listening to David left me feeling better equipped to mother – to nurture – my fun, active, crazy, adorable boys. Read on! No matter the age of the boys in your life, you will gain a better understanding of boys and feel more equipped to nurture, accept and love them.

Note: each stage is categorized by age. However, take that loosely. It’s just an estimate.

Stage 1 – The Explorer (ages 0-4)boys experimenting

  • Active
  • Aggressive
  • Curious

At this stage, he NEEDS:

  1. Boundaries – he cannot self-regulate or self-control well at this stage (ie. you tell him don’t touch the glass figurines on the coffee table at grandma’s house. This will be nearly impossible for him! Instead, just move the glass out of read/sight. This better sets him up for success).
  2. Open space – think boys at a playground. Need I say more?
  3. Consistency – you will need to speak the same expectations to him again and again. He’s not dumb and he’s not trying to “forget” what you told him yesterday and the day before. But, the way his brain is wired, he just DOES forget. Remind him. Gently. Be patient. He is a boy and this is par for his precious little mind.

Also, sequencing is HARD for boys at this stage. Do not give him too much instruction at once. He will forget all you told him. As you pull your car into the driveway, instead of telling him to go inside, take off his shoes, put them in the shoe rack, go upstairs and wait in the bathroom for his bath (that’s TOO MUCH!) just tell him to go to the garage door, take off his shoes and wait for you. THEN praise him for listening and give him another instruction.

boys markers

Stage 2 – The Lover (ages 5-8)

At this stage boys are highly IMAGINATIVE! Their spiritual competency is expanding TONS! This is why they really like Old Testament stories like Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lions Den, etc.

  • Tender (immense kindness can emerge here)
  • Obedient (they want to please their parents, teacher, etc.)
  • Competitive
  • He also has a desire for POWER & PURPOSEluke muscles

At this stage, he NEEDS:

  1. Reprieve (ie. time to “let loose.” He sits at school most of the day. When he gets home, let him run wild for a bit. He needs to move around)
  2. Routine
  3. Regulation

Note: around age 7-8, most boys start to desire 1:1 time with parents.


Stage 3 – The Individual (Ages 9-12)

  • Searching for identity
  • Evolving
  • Experimenting (which often presents itself in the form of rebellion)

At this stage, he NEEDS:

  1. Parental involvement, mainly in the form of protection. While he is growing up, he still needs parents to protect him and he needs to know he has this
  2. Information – he needs information about puberty and what to expect from his body, changes, etc.
  3. Outlets to:
  • test his strength
  • test his mind
  • feel a sense of risk and adventure
  • feel purpose

Note: when communicating with a boy at this stage, side-by-side conversations are easier for a boy than face-to-face; eye contact can intimidate a boy.


little boyI LOVE how all this information has enabled me to “get” my little boys just a little bit more.

I look forward to purchasing and reading the entire book Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys! I’d love for you to read it, too and share your thoughts.

Yesterday, I took my boys for a walk on a trail near my house. Luke picked up fallen tree branches along the way and swung them around, hitting the ground and tree trunks. Instead of immediately telling him to put down the sticks and branches, I let him play. He had fun. I had fun watching him.I felt like I understood this needed developmental milestone. It made me more patient.  It empowered me to feel like I sorta knew what I was doing as a mom. I don’t! Of course I don’t! BUT, I felt like I did for a moment. It was nice. Enjoyable. Fun.

I hope some of this info is brewing in your mind and that you’ll find it to be usable tools in your parenting or teaching toolbox.

Relationships work SO MUCH BETTER when we understand where the other person is coming from, don’t they?

Now, just to figure out the art of nurturing little girls…!

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