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Raising Confident Boys. Arbor Clinical Associates. Concerns about Boys. Concerns about Boys. The signs of the troubled boys and young men in this country are all around us: The shocking violence of Columbine, Paducah and Jonesboro Bullying and intimidation in schools

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raising confident boys

Raising Confident Boys

Arbor Clinical Associates

concerns about boys3
Concerns about Boys
  • The signs of the troubled boys and young men in this country are all around us:
    • The shocking violence of Columbine, Paducah and Jonesboro
    • Bullying and intimidation in schools
    • Popularity of violent, sexualized video games
    • Adult bookstores and domestic violence shelters in our communities
    • Emphasis on material wealth to indicate status and self-worth
    • Rates of addiction 3x that of women
concerns about boys4
Concerns about Boys
  • Peg Tyre column in Chicago Tribune (Oct. 08):
    • Boys are 5x more likely to be expelled from preschool
    • Boys continue to lag in reading and are doing worse in writing
    • 2x as likely to be labeled “learning disabled”
    • Compose 2/3 of special ed. classrooms
    • Up to 10x more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental or emotional disorder, and 4-6x more likely to commit suicide
    • In high school, boys are withdrawing from extracurricular activities, like student council and theatre, with sports being the sole exception.
    • In college, there are 2.5 million more female undergraduates than male undergraduates with the gap increasing by 100,000 each year.
concerns about boys5
Concerns about Boys
  • Summary: Our boys are hurting. These statistics all suggest we have to look carefully at how we’re raising our boys and attending to their unique needs as they grow up.
boys code7
Boys Code
  • In “Real Boys”, Harvard developmental specialist William Pollack describes a strict ‘Boy Code’ of acceptable behaviors, taboos, rules and words.
    • Be tough – don’t show any feelings except anger
    • Don’t show vulnerability or need – DO NOT CRY
    • Don’t show that you’re close to people physically or emotionally
    • Handle difficulties on your own – don’t ask for help
    • Relationships are about power and control
boys code8
Boys Code
  • Problems arise when a boy’s experience or feelings inevitably do not fit the code or its prescriptions. When a boy looks to the code and it doesn’t reflect his actual feelings or give him a realistic option, he’s caught in a true dilemma, because the code cannot be forsaken without the risk of deep shame
    • Results in confusion, isolation, and a sense of despair for the boy.
    • Parents are also confronted by a dilemma: “I sense my son’s needs, but he has to fit into a tough world.”
boys code9
Boys Code
  • Example from Pollack: One boy, who was severely taunted at school, grew more and more depressed, even as he told his parents and teachers, “everything’s fine.”
  • We often see boys who are suffering silently inside and hiding behind more acceptable masks of toughness and withdrawal.
building confidence alternatives to boys code
Building Confidence – Alternatives to ‘Boys Code’
  • Focusing on development of a positive, accepting relationship with parents as a foundation for healthy confidence
  • Boys may present as ‘doers’ true to the ‘Boys Code’, but they crave relationships with others, including their parents.
  • Solid relationships can:
    • Help boys better negotiate challenges of growing
    • Allow boys to share and heal emotional injuries
    • Become more authentic, expressive, and caring
gender differences in brain development
Gender Differences in Brain Development
  • Boys are “Doers” and present as active
  • Gross Motor Development – delayed fine motor skill development compared to girls
  • Cerebellum and Dopamine – increased impulsivity and movement
  • Frontal Lobe – less impulse control
  • “Rest State” - boys require some down time between tasks
    • May present as sleepiness or distractibility
    • Boys may stimulate themselves during this time by pencil tapping, etc…
gender differences in brain development13
Gender Differences in Brain Development
  • Linear Learning - less multitasking, preference for one task at a time
  • Lower Sensory Integration – difficulty attending to verbal tone or subtle verbal cues
  • Corpus Callosum – less communication between brain hemispheres when compared to girls
  • Blood Flow – 15% less blood flow may contribute to more linear focus on tasks
  • Boys make good use of structure – however, they may need more time to memorize
gender differences in brain development14
Gender Differences in Brain Development
  • Relationships/Expression
    • Relate through activity
  • Delayed verbal/language development compared to girls (3 ½ year old girl equivalent to 5 year old boy)
  • Prefer structured and organized activities
  • Conflict – more likely to initially use physical and behavioral ways to resolve conflict
gender differences in brain development15
Gender Differences in Brain Development
  • Development of Self-Image/Self-Esteem
  • Poor motor development and low self-esteem
  • Poor fine motor development and low self-esteem
  • Self Image connected to proficiency in physical activities
the dilemma with boys
The Dilemma with Boys
  • Boys’ attempts to find balance
    • Authenticity
    • Relationships
    • Functioning/Performance
  • Boys tend to focus on Functioning/Performance if they cannot find balance and may sacrifice relationships and authenticity
  • Risk of shame if self-esteem focused on Functioning/Performance without supportive relationships
what to do
What to Do?

Emphasizing Relationship Building

relationship and connection work for parents
Relationship and connection work for parents
  • Power of parental hopes, dreams and fears
    • Can be both positive and negative
    • Where are the boundaries?
    • Acknowledge risk for anxiety, frustration, and anger
    • Potential impacts on your relationship
      • Distancing
      • Performance based
relationship and connection work for parents19
Relationship and connection work for parents
  • Accept your child’s unique temperament
    • What old scripts are you following?
    • “Progress not perfection”
    • The ‘What if…’ question – naming and considering fears and hopes about the future
developmental awareness
Developmental Awareness
  • Where is my child at and what are his needs?
    • ‘Scaffolding’ Strategy
      • Child can reach higher level with support
      • Question: “What am I scaffolding?”
        • Higher performance, flexibility, independence, etc…
        • Consider that different goals may conflict – it may be difficult to encourage a child’s independence while still maintaining high performance
developmental awareness21
Developmental Awareness
  • Where is my child at and what are his needs (cont.)
    • Find balance between challenge, support, and protection
      • Give enough support to climb – don’t carry him
      • When do I let him struggle and learn from natural consequences?
    • Define and measure developmental progress
      • Operationalize progress – clear, unambiguous measures
      • Work with child to develop expectations and rewards
    • Parent transition from manager to consultant (approx. age 11-13)
building blocks for safety
Building Blocks for Safety
  • Helping your child to know what to expect
    • Consistency
    • Clarity
    • Predictability
  • Relational structures
    • Expectations
    • Roles
    • Responsibilities
    • Boundaries
meeting boys where they re at
Meeting Boys Where They’re At
  • Using the way boys are built
    • Going where your child is
    • Communicating while and through doing
    • Routines are your friend – boys respond to structure
  • Boys’ Interests and Parental Homework
    • Google and Wikipedia – take some time to familiarize yourself with your child’s interests
meeting boys where they re at24
Meeting Boys Where They’re At
  • Mutuality and Creating Common Experience
    • Working and playing together
    • Importance of physical contact – may need to be parent initiated
    • Celebrating
  • Specific Techniques
    • Active Listening
    • Child-Centered Play/Talk – avoiding the performance trap
      • 10-15 minutes of child led or directed play (parent fits child during this time)
      • Schedule consistent and regular time for play/talk
authentic communication reducing felt shame
Authentic Communication/Reducing Felt Shame
  • Principles
    • Openness and acceptance through empathy
    • Engagement of feelings and emotions
      • Reflection without judgment
      • Help child build vocabulary and frontal lobe connections to give non-physical options to manage emotions
authentic communication reducing felt shame26
Authentic Communication/Reducing Felt Shame
  • Principles (cont.)
    • Parental authenticity and vulnerability
      • Modeling
        • How you’re thinking and feeling as parents
        • It’s ok to say, “I need time to think about that”
      • Mutual respect and joint problem-solving
    • Realistic praise and encouragement
resources
Resources
  • Michael Gurian: writes on development and education of boys
    • “The Minds of Boys” – more education focused
    • “The Wonder of Boys”
  • William Pollack: “Boy’s Code” and relating with boys
    • “Real Boys”
  • Leonard Sax: writes on gender differences and implications for boys
    • “Boys Adrift”
  • Carolyn Webster-Stratton: child-centered play and parenting guide for children 3-8
    • “The Incredible Years”
  • David Elkind: importance of play for children
    • “The Power of Play”
  • Mary Sheedy Kurcinka – working with intense and energetic children
    • “Raising Your Spirited Child”
  • Ross W. Greene – working with explosive children; also offers a relational-problem solving approach
    • “The Explosive Child”
contact information
Contact Information
  • Kendra Battaglia, MA
  • Bill Li, LCPC
  • David Rennard, LCSW, CSAT

Arbor Clinical Associates

(630) 462-7005

1725 Naperville Rd., Suite 207

Wheaton, IL 60189

www.arborclinical.com

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