Steve ­Biddulph says boys are more vulnerable than girls, especially in the first few years, because of their biology. He shares his secrets to raising boys and why we should avoid group childcare for young boys….

Steve Biddulph is one of the world’s best  known parent educators. A psychologist for 30 years, he is now retired but continues to write and teach.

Steve explains, research has proved what he and many others suspected all along — that boys are more vulnerable than girls, especially in the first few years of their lives, because of their biology.

“There are some incredible new findings about boys that we didn’t know in 1998 — that in the first year their brains are weaker, more unprotected and grow more slowly,” he says. “We now know from research that boys have particular times — in the first year, at four, at eight and at puberty — when doing the right thing is critical,” he says.

He says it’s important for parents growing boys to know that most males are slower at learning to talk, read and write than most girls.

Most start puberty a year or two later than girls, boys’ puberty doesn’t end until they are about 17, and their brains don’t fully mature until their 20s. “These things matter if you have a boy to raise, and keep alive,” Steve says in The Australian.

raising boys

Steve strongly believes that group childcare can damage boys.

Steve has always stuck his neck out on this. Now, he points to new research by US neuropsychologist Dr Allan Schore showing increased vulnerability of boys’ brains in their first year.

“The research indicates that probably no boys under the age of one should be in group care,” he says. “It is still less desirable in their second year, and still second-rate to what we can provide in their third. Girls are somewhat more resilient.”

By the age of three, part-time group care can be a plus. “I have a choice: to make everyone feel good, or to tell the truth,” Biddulph says. “Attachment really matters and you can’t pay someone to provide love.”

Alternatives to group childcare include family day care, a nanny, grandparents, exchange babysitting favours, in home daycare, other family or friends.

Share your comments below

  • Some mothers just don’t have any other option.


  • Sometimes it is not an option for some to not put their child in care. I’m lucky to be able to stay home with my children. My son now goes to care once a week as he needs the stimulation, but bonus for us his Nanny works there.


  • I was able to mix a bit of work with having my son at home or looked after by his Nan. He didn’t go into any form of daycare, because I had support. This is harsh on those who rely on childcare or daycare of some sort. We all do the best we can.


  • Hopefully he is wrong as my 2 year old boy is in child care 5 days a week


  • Interesting. My eldest 2 (including my son) didn’t go to child care at all. Now at age 14 he has developed into a pretty smart boy with a beautiful gentle heart.


  • What hogwash. As the saying goes “Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t”


  • What a load of poo. Some people have to work.


  • I love his books, they make so much sense, I agree with his comment that children need one on one care for the first few years, we need more support from the Government to provide parents with longer parenting leave and Grandparents with the support they need too, let’s pay Grandparents childcare fee’s that don’t effect their pensions.


  • Seems I did right by keeping my little male at home until he had to go to school at 5. He is an amazing man now.


  • An interesting article.


  • I actually have Steve Biddulphs ‘Raising girls in the twenty-first century’ and it is facinating. I think with everything though, it does depend on the child.


  • Interesting read, everyone always says boys are slower than girls, maybe it’s true.


  • That is something different that I read today… Thanks for sharing insights


  • Unfortunately for a lot of people group childcare is their only option and it’s another thing they’ll feel guilty about. The reality is that as long as these kids go home to a loving and connected family, there is every chance they’ll do just as well as kids who haven’t been to group daycare. Daycare is just one factor and the quality of the daycare would be a big factor too.


  • An interesting article, thanks for your thoughts.


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