Is it my imagination or does our society just really have low expectations of boys? I’m shocked by the number of people that are surprised that my boys are polite. By this, I’m referring to the fact they will say please or thank you. I’m sorry but this doesn’t seem like to much to expect of a child.
When the boys were younger, I’d hear all about how girls learn to speak sooner than boys. However both of the boys began speaking pretty early. It’s almost as if people have bought into the idea that boys are incapable of speaking early, being respectful socially, and can only fight and get into trouble.
I definitely think boys have a need to express their energy. To me, the question is how to help them do so rather than trying to suppress it. We have been buying inflatable punching bags for years. They jump on them, punch them, throw them, kick them, pile on them, and then we get another. I’m usually surprised by how many boys and girls visit our house and want to take a whack at Superman, Jackie Chan, George Bush, Batman, or Bozo. But they stop and check with their parents to see if it is OK.
I don’t get it. Adults have a need to express their frustration, anger, and upset; so do kids. But if a kid is not given room to express this and must constantly restrain themselves, I think it is only natural that they will take it out on someone such as another kid or act out in other ways. Let’s be honest, some of the problem with boys is that they don’t respond like girls. Girls more naturally fit a kid world dominated by mothers and school teachers that are also women.
I am in no way surprised by the number of boys that get slapped with a diagnosis ADHD and are put on ritalin. While I’m sure significant numbers of them are justified; I remain skeptical. I think a boys natural tendency to run, jump, spin, climb, fart, be silly, and less in control creates teachers with opportunities to be creative in their approach to educating.
It seems the issue is less about boys and more about an educational system reluctant to rethink how to work with boys. And a culture that passively sits back and accepts a “boys will be boys” approach to parenting. If nothing is expected of a boy, he will not deliver. However if we raise the level of expectations for our sons, and support them in succeeding, we may be surprised by the results.