As my husband and I stood by school the other morning waiting for our boys to enter it was evident that there are some myths when it comes to typical 9 year old boy behavior.
The biggest myth about raising boys is the phrare boys will be boys. How many times have you heard a parent say this or perhaps even said this yourself? What harm is unconsciously being done by this thinking???
As we stood there watching various boys bump into one another and pretend punch each other my husband remarked, “You can tell that these boys are being raised by video games. It’s their world.”
As we observed, it indeed looked like a video game being played out in real life. Friends were ripping off backpacks, stepping on toes, pushing and shoving, creating little groups of players. Some areas of the line where quite aggressive and chaotic. Think about the video games out there…the goal is always to win. Always. Most include destruction or winning through strength. They are all about ego. Being tough. Can we really let our boys play these games and then think it does not matter?
But the problem is not just video games.
The problem is the excusing of poor behavior through this phrase, boys will be boys or the thought that typical 9 year old boy behavior includes aggression (or toughness), talking back and trash talk.
Last week in my son’s math class most of the boys were talking about poop while goofing off and disrupting the class. They did this for several days even though the teacher asked them to stop and focus on math. After about 3 days my son had enough. He put his head on his desk and just sat there. One of his classmates said, “Hey what are you doing? Why aren’t you laughing?” My son replied, “Because you are talking trash!”
Boys don’t have to talk trash, boys don’t have to be aggressive and act like the hot shot. But when you dress boys with skulls from day one thinking it is cute, when you let things slide because boys will be boys, you just reinforced the idea that boys=being tough. You missed an opportunity to let your boys know that character counts. You can talk about being kind, but if you reinforce otherwise through what they visually see and participate in, then you are walking a slippery slope.
Kids don’t just turn out a certain way, they are guided. If you don’t guide them by setting expectations of their behavior then who will?
Sure my boys have talked about poop and farts before, but when they do I don’t let it slide. I don’t subscribe to the typical 9 year old boy behavior myths. I don’t roll my eyes at them. I firmly ask them to stop and if they don’t then I ask them what kind of person do they want to be. I ask them what kind of husband and father do they want to be. When I ask them this, they respond with, “kind, funny, caring, loving.” They get the point immediately and the behavior changes.
So what is typical 9 year old boy behavior?
Curios. Active. Inventive. Caring.
Here’s what you can do to lift up your boys.
Talk to your boys.
Instill in them pride of having good character.
Catch them doing something kind and thoughtful and compliment them about it.
Let them know that who they are counts and how they treat people is matters more than being strong or tough.
Start a discussion about what strength really is. Let them know that it takes more strength to stay calm and choose to be nice than to get angry, aggressive and fight.
Give them things to do that instill responsibility. Let them know that by folding the laundry they are preparing for running their own household someday. Have them mow the lawn. Yes, kids can run a lawnmower without cutting off their toes. My boys started their own business this summer at 8 years old (and yes, I am there to help, I’m not totally crazy…)
Give them work to do that they can accomplish and feel good about.
Raise your expectations. They can do more than you sometimes think. Yes, I know it can be easier (and faster) to do something yourself, but what your boys will gain by doing the task themselves is worth it. I promise.
There is lots of talk about girls and the pressure to be thin and pretty, but most people are not talking about boys and the pressure to be tough. Take a moment to watch this video and then let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Share this post for the future of our boys, be the one to start the discussion. Do it for our boys.