2 BBoys Facilitator Trainings Fall 2012:
KELOWNA, BC – NOVEMBER 13, 14, 2012 WESTBANK FIRST NATION
There is growing evidence that indicates that boys are rapidly falling behind girls and under-achieving in the regular areas of success – academics, motivation, and self-efficacy. In order to turn this around, boys need education settings suitable for boys learning needs and an environment of healthy emotional relating within the group.
Boys are often seen as socially and emotionally disengaged. Research shows that boys begin to disconnect from their emotions at the age of 3 or 4, when they are told by adults, often parents, to “be a big boy”, “big goys don’t cry”, “don’t be a sissy” etc. This results in boys learning to disassociate from their feelings and shutdown to their true nature. This male code of “stoicism” that creates boys’ wounds also forbids them to acknowledge or deal with them.
While girls tend to do this at 12 to 13 years, and turn it in on themselves with depression and self-hurting behaviors, boys, who disengage further at adolescence, turn it outward and hurt others with anger and acting out behaviors. Boys need to be motivated to learn how to channel their energy and risk-taking behaviors in ways that are disciplined, have integrity and are morally appropriate. Boys need access to safe places, emotionally challenging experiences and caring adults on a daily basis.
Boys often find their need for nurturing to be at odds with the cultural male expectations to be tough, grown up, and independent. The opposite is actually true: when one is being emotionally vulnerable, it is really a sign of strength rather than a weakness. Popular culture encourages boys to be independent, but in practice, too much independence often encourages counter-dependence, where a boy denies his natural need to lean on others from time to time. In the male-cultural myth, dependency on others is often equated with being vulnerable, which itself is confused with being weak.
A significantly large number of boys are being diagnosed and medicated to control their behaviour. Research suggests that many youth are inappropriately diagnosed with ADHD is actually Nature Deficit Disorder. He suggests that boys spend too much time indoors, playing video games, instead of interfacing with nature. The data indicates that putting boys in nature in all kinds of weather, where they can get their hands dirty and feel and smell real “stuff” (trees, sap, dirt,plants, etc) is helpful in treating ADHD, obesity, and depression.
Boys who have been deprived or time outdoors often have trouble grasping simple concepts – such as how to hook up a garden hose, dig a hole, or hammer a nail, etc. There’s a whole generation of youth who have not spent time in the backyard, woods, or in tool shed – this has instead been replaced by indirect learning through computers.
Peers, to a large extent, are programmed by the mass media and tend to be fascinated by the culture of the extreme. In addition boys tend to behave quite differently in groups than when alone – they become more stimulated and competitive when in groups. This can be seen in shock videos such as “Jack Ass”.
Thus, the problem of aggression in today’s society keeps growing.
Aggression is primarily a learned behavior that develops through observation and imitation. Children are constantly exposed to the hyper-masculine heroes who act simply as emotionless killing machines. Boys are particularly fascinated by extraordinarily violent images and imitate such behaviors through play, video games, and toy collection. So, how are they learning things like sensitivity to others’ feelings, compassion, or tolerance and patience necessary for learning to get along with others? Unfortunately, the answer is that many are not.
Research indicates that in order for boys to be successful as men at work, they need to develop and increase their emotional IQ.
Some differences between boys and girls are:
• Boy’s attention span is shorter than girls
• Boys are more adept at learning spatially than girls, boys need more physical movement to learn than girls do
• Boys brains need more rest than girls
• Boys require more time to process emotions
• Boys wanted to do some form of action to solve the problem
If you ask a boy how he feels he will often tell you what he thinks or what he plans to do about the problem.
Boys don’t even have words for many of their feelings – such as sad, ashamed, or afraid. A large part of work with boys is to expand their emotional vocabulary. Boys who are especially defiant may be behaving this way to counteract dependency and fears of loss. A boy who feels hurt by a loss may become angry and full of rage as a way to avoid feeling sad and powerless. While anger is not the best emotion to feel in all cases, it might be easier to feel than some of these other, more painful emotions.