Parent Partnerships

Supporting boys in upper primary school

The upper primary school years are the start of big physical changes and boys can struggle more than girls. Even though some of our boys are growing physically, this time can be challenging, unpredictable and full of big emotions and awkwardness.


Some anxiety can also occur as the end of primary school approaches and some boys can fight with their physiology. Parents need to be mindful to recognise that for many pubescent boys, every day at school feels like going into a war zone because it is so unpredictable.

The following ideas will help to guide you through this time.

Have realistic expectations

Create a calm, predictable environment to counteract the stress many boys may experience. Parents can do this by avoiding asking too many questions and placing too much pressure especially around homework. Especially avoid criticism, nagging and lecturing — they won’t improve anything.

Keep things light

Boys appreciate lightness and humour, especially when they may be struggling with anxiety or worry. Maybe you could find some funny, goofy cat or dog videos to show them or share some funny experiences that might trigger the beautiful happy neurochemicals in their brain. Be a bit ridiculous – intentionally.

Share developmental changes

Have brief conversations with your son about the coming brain changes, especially pruning, which is a ‘trimming down’ process in the teenage brain where irrelevant/unused mental connections from childhood are lost. These conversations can help him understand why he may be struggling with organisation and be forgetting things that he used to remember. Once he knows there is a reason, he’ll tend to manage it better — indeed many boys are relieved! Help your son to work out ways to remember important stuff.

Make home a welcome base for his friends

Ensure that you make your home a welcome base for his friends, regardless of gender. The hunger to ‘hang out together’ is still strong even for our digital natives, and they will always turn up to a place where they are welcome and where there is a familiar space to gather. It’s really good to give your son’s mates the message that ‘our door is always open for you’.  We never know when a family conflict becomes too painful for a boy or that just having some calm down time is what the whole family may need.

Stoke his spark

Help your son identify his passion whether sport, games or music that will keep him engaged in the years ahead. Disengagement is very common among boys in early to middle secondary school and those who have an interest they love and are capable of, tend to struggle less. In primary school, boys should sample many activities so that they can discover their real interests.

Help manage anxiety

Many boys experience anxiety as they move toward adolescence and the end of the primary school years. Some boys display anxiety through silliness, inappropriate behaviour, an increase in aggression (often toward siblings), disrespectful language towards parents, changes in eating patterns and struggles with sleep. If you have ongoing concerns check in with your son’s teacher and seek help.

Practise kindness

Even though this sounds counterintuitive if you are experiencing some hot moments with your pre-pubescent or pubescent son, kindness especially in small unexpected ways has enormous power. Many boys struggle with low self-worth and when they muck up they struggle even more with feeling acceptable and loved.


Above all, reassure your son often that you love him fiercely and unconditionally, no matter what.

Maggie Dent presents a related webinar: Communicating with teenage boys

Our school has a membership with Parenting Ideas. As part of this membership, you can attend the upcoming webinar ‘Communicating with teenage boys’ at no cost.


In this webinar, Maggie Dent shows how using compassionate, empowering communication with teenage boys can better guide them across the bridge to healthy manhood to a place where they feel worthwhile and engaged in respectful relationships.



24 March 2021 8:00pm AEDT

To redeem

1. Click this link:


2. Click ‘Add to cart’

3. Click ‘View cart’

4. Enter the voucher code COMMUNICATION and click ‘Apply Coupon’ Your discount of $39 will be applied.

5. Click ‘Proceed to checkout’

6. Fill in your account details including our school’s name to verify your eligibility. These are the details you will use to login to your account and access your webinar and resources

7. Click ‘Place Order’


This offer is valid until 24 June 2021. If you’re unable to make the broadcast time, just register anyway and you will get access to the recording.