The powerful subconscious ways we suppress boys emotional growth and why
Here are 10 things I’m working on becoming more conscious of within myself, about how I speak to and condition my little boys. I’d love to hear your additions and edits in the comments below.
- Boy’s Don’t Cry
We tend to shut down boys emotions much quicker than girls, or take them far less seriously. Hence our emotionally stumped men.
“It’s OK to cry”
“Awww. that was really disappointing/ that hurt/ you’re sad!”
- Like a Girl!
“You’re throwing like a girl!”
We teach little boys that being like a girl in any way is bad. And then we’re surprised when men act superior to women.
Instead: “Nice throw! Let’s shoot it harder this time.”
- Be a Man!
Little boys are not men, let’s not rush them into growing up. Let’s allow them to embrace their full childhood!
Instead: “It is hard, I understand! How can we solve this problem?”
- Suck it Up!
We expect little boys to suppress their emotions and to be toughies. But ‘sucking up’ feelings doesn’t make them go away, they simply resurface through challenging behavior.
Instead: “Do you need a hug?”
- You’re So Wild!
Just because a kid is a boy we immediately peg their enthusiastic, active behavior as “wild”. This doesn’t serve their self image as focused, regulated people who are also excited at times…and it shames them for needing to move their bodies which is natural!
Instead: “I can see we need to move let’s get outside!”
- You love sports!
Men grow up feeling that if they’re not star athletes and ripping it at the gym, they’re not “worthy”. Some might love this, but for others – competitive sports isn’t their thing. Let’s let them decide.
Instead: “What do you love playing?”
- You Love Math! …
Math is awesome. And hopefully all kids learn to love it. But let’s not shove boys into a STEM box that they might not want to fit into. Boys can love art, dance and music as well…
Instead: “What do you love to explore.”
- You Can’t Be a…
Teacher… nurse… florist…
When little boys express interest in typically ‘feminine’ domains they’re often discouraged. And then we’re surprised that they’re underrepresented in these workplaces.
Instead: “Cool! What makes you interested in nursing?”
- We Don’t Have Boy Toys!
Guys. There’s no such thing as “boy toys” or “girls toys”. There’s just “toys”. Sure, on average there may be tendencies according to gender, but why exacerbate that by labelling?
Instead: “We have some awesome toys for you.”
- Let the Girls Do That.
Boys need to know they’re expected to care for others, to clean up, to nurture and empathize. Don’t expect the girls to do it for them and neither will they.
Instead: “Encourage boys to step up to caregiving roles.”
I want my sons to know that…
- He can feel sad, disappointed, hurt and vulnerable and he can express these feelings in whatever way is true for him without being judged or ridiculed.
- He can express his artistic, feminine, nurturing side and doing so only compliments his masculinity
- He is expected to care for our home, our family and our community and to be nurturing and empathic to the people around him.
- He is allowed and encouraged to explore any type of vocation, hobby, interest or topic that calls to him.
- His high energy and need to move are celebrated and catered for, not a burden to be tamed.