With male teenage suicide rates on the rise, the old adage “big boys don’t cry” may need to be readdressed.
Traditionally boys are taught to be tough, not to cry, and shrug off their emotions.
However, recent studies are showing this may not be the healthiest strategy to teach boys how to handle emotion.
While no one wants to raise what may be considered a “mama’s boy” or a “wimp”, boys need to be allowed to feel a range of emotions, and they need to be taught how to acknowledge and manage them in an appropriate way.
In light of this realization, there has been a huge push recently to teach our children, boys included, what has been coined as Emotional Intelligence.
Proven to be equally as important as academic intelligence when considering overall child development, Emotional Intelligence helps children identify and manage emotions.
This helps them understand themselves better, how to react and respond appropriately, as well as be able to understand the emotions of others.
In turn, this prepares them to be better siblings, friends, and partners. Under those pretenses, here are 5 reasons why you should let boys cry.
5 Good Reasons You Should Let Boys Cry
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Prior to puberty, boys are more likely than girls to experience symptoms of depression. When they are told not to cry and stifle their urge to do so, the emotion behind that urge doesn’t simply disappear. Stifled sadness can quickly turn to anger in boys and young men and is often released in bursts of anger or defiance. They don’t understand the anger or where it stems from, and it builds until they find some way to let the anger out externally. This can lead to behavior issues at school, with peers, and at home.
When boys are taught to express their emotions and stay connected to their feelings, they learn to manage their anger in healthier, more productive ways. Instead of acting out in anger, they can learn healthy alternatives to deal with their feelings, such as talking to a parent about it, taking it out on a workout, writing it out in a journal, or expressing it playing guitar, for example.
Boys who don’t express their emotions grow into men who don’t know how to express themselves or be emotionally available. This can cause issues in marriages, in parenting, as well as in work relationships. If we teach young boys appropriate ways to deal with emotions and emotional situations, they will grow up better able to handle these circumstances as men. Marriages will be healthier, fathers will be better equipped to deal with tough issues with their children, and employees with be more productive and better team players.
As boys are taught to “man up” and hide their emotions, the coping method they learn is to become stoic, shut down, and keep their feelings to themselves. Studies have shown that this directly correlates to men being less likely to seek mental health assistance when needed, leading to higher rates of clinical depression, anxiety, and similar issues that can accelerate and worsen when left unaddressed.
Allowing your boy to cry, while telling him you understand how he feels and providing guidance on appropriate ways to handle that emotion, provides him a sense of belonging, of being understood, and of being loved for who he is. This builds self-esteem and strengthens the parent-child bond. This is not to be confused with coddling or over-protecting a child but should be considered as an excellent way to model and teach acceptable outlets for expressing emotion.
Boys feel all the same emotions girls do.
For some reason, our society has traditionally thought it was okay for girls to show these emotions while boys were expected to toughen up and hold it in.
This has lead to generations of men who don’t know how to connect emotionally in numerous aspects of their lives.
If we can allow our boys to cry while also teaching healthy ways to express and manage their emotions, we can raise a generation of men better prepared to handle stressful situations, be better partners, and live overall healthier, happier lives without sacrificing their masculinity.
No parent likes to think about the possibility of their child being bullied, but the reality is that it is extremely common, with an incredible 160,000 children a day avoiding school due to the fear of bullying and 33% of children reporting experiences of school bullying.
These are incredibly sad statistics.
These kids exist in a constant state of fear of physical, verbal and emotional abuse.
Not only that, but as well as bullying victims, the act always involves a perpetrator and usually witnesses, so it’s very probable that you will have to face the issue in some capacity at some point.
So let’s talk about how you can help your child.
How to Support a Bullied Child
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How Does Bullying Impact a Child?
Children that do manage to attend class often experience high levels of anxiety and depression.
Over a long period of time, this heightened level of stress can have lasting effects that can be detrimental to a child’s development and outlook on life.
If left to fester and continue, bullying can impact them for the remainder of their lives.
Chronic experiences of bullying can have a catastrophic impact on a child’s self-worth and ability to trust others.
They can also have great difficulties bonding with others and creating positive relationships and sadly are at a greater risk of substance abuse.
In light of these facts, it’s clear that as parents, caregivers, and educators we need to take a proactive approach to prevent bullying from ever occurring.
It’s not always straightforward to identify a bully, so it’s helpful to be knowledgeable of other less clear signs.
How to Identify Bullying
The best thing you can do to help is to teach your own child how to identify bullying.
Explain to them how they can identify it when they witness it and not be scared to name it.
Educate them that when another individual invokes feelings of shame, guilt or makes them scared that they need to go away from that person and realize that the individual is a bully.
Encourage them to tell you if they ever feel like themselves or anyone else is being isolated from the group.
Explain to them that there is nothing wrong with them and that if they are ever being bullied; the bully is the one with the issues.
Typically, if a child is a bully, there is something adrift in that child’s life.
Frequently, this can be due to being a former victim of bullying themselves, or maybe they come from a dysfunctional household.
Often they are quite envious of their victims and are seeking validation from peers. Sometimes they may have issues dealing with their own feelings and therefore, their actions.
Emphasize to your child how much you love them and care for them. Highlight how much influence they have over their lives and how tough they are.
Encourage them to communicate with you by communicating with them.
Zero Tolerance for Bullying
If you discover your child is being bullied, reassure them that you will handle it and then proceed.
Have a talk with your child’s teacher and if you can the bullies parents. Every adult that has a role to play should be made alert to the issue and you should all aim to cooperate in order to resolve the problem.
If the conversation doesn’t seem to resolve the issue and the bullying continues, you will need to go up the ranks and make an appointment to see the principal.
In the meantime, you can instruct your child with sensible ways to deal with the bullying.
Firstly, tell them to avoid the person as much as they can and not to antagonize the assailant in any way.
You will then have to be prepared to go to battle for them and don’t give up until the issue is fully resolved.
Letting the bully win will only lead to more suffering for your child and when they see you making a stand for them, they will find the courage to stand up for themselves too.
How to Overcome Bullying
It’s not possible to be with your child 24 hours a day, therefore, it’s essential you teach them how to overcome bullying and beat it, even when the bully is right in front of them.
A great approach is to make your child feel courageous and strong in the face of bullies and that can easily be achieved through a role-playing game.
If they know exactly how to deal with the situation before it occurs, they will be ready to deal with bullying when and wherever it happens.
Provide a range of situations where bullying could occur, including the bus, walking home and so on, via the art of role-playing games.
As the parent, you act the role of bully and instruct your child how to react in a positive way.
This can really help them verbalize and communicate better when the times comes. If your child is a little passive and shy, then don’t worry, what’s essential is that they feel cared for and supported.
Instruct them to say confidently and clearly, “No, Stop it.”
Or perhaps “I am going to tell the teacher”, emphasize that this is never wrong if people feel scared.
Highlight that their opinion matters, bullying is always wrong and adults will always put a stop to it.
Everyone Involved can Help
If you have ended up here and think your child may actually be the bully, that doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent.
In effect, since you have come to that conclusion means you can be a big player in fixing it. You have the influence to put a stop to it and fast before anyone else has to suffer.
Be aware that you need to lay down the rules for your child and the potential consequences for breaking them. This will be positive for them and the child they bully.
You can even make a huge change if your child isn’t the bully or the victim; you simply need to teach them how to recognize bullying.
Encourage them to make a stand against anyone who partakes in bullying and to always inform an adult.
In reality, children can make a huge difference, since they often hold more influence over their peers than any adult does.
If no one makes a change, who will? We need to be prepared to stand up for our children and any other child who may be a victim of bullying. Don’t just wait for someone to speak out, be prepared to speak out on your own accord.
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Give them opportunities to be social, even at a young age
Communication and language is the key to learning at a young age. When children spend time with others their communication improves.
Studies have shown that children learn habits, good or bad, from those peers they spend the most time with.
Giving them plenty of opportunity for social interaction will help them build the skills they need to succeed later on in life.
Feed their curiosity
Children are curious by nature. They are constantly seeking out new experiences and knowledge. Research suggests that the higher the curiosity, the higher the academic achievement.
When you encourage and feed that curiosity you’re helping them stay motivated to learn and setting them up to succeed academically.
Learning opportunities are all around us; teach your child there is something to be learned no matter the environment or situation.
Exploration can lead to greatness
Be present in the moment with them. Talk to your kids, interact with them and show them love and compassion.
When your children have a peaceful, supporting home environment you are giving them the peace of mind and comfort they need to perform at their best.
Turmoil or chaos in your home can make it difficult for a child to feel grounded or safe and can cripple them emotionally.
The more you are available to answer questions and encourage that curious little mind, the more they’ll learn.
Books, Books, Books
Read to them, have them read to you, and encourage independent reading.
Reading from a young age, and limiting screen time is an exercise for your child’s brain.
Reading enhances language skills and concentration. A great story allows their imagination and curiosity to
run free yet also opens the door to other parts of the world or information that they might not
normally be exposed to.
Reading takes your child on a journey to new things; children who read regularly typically have higher intelligence and do well in school.
Assign them age-appropriate chores
Chores help children to adhere to a schedule while teaching them responsibility.
Chores show them what is expected and helps them to be able to contribute to the household and work as a team.
As children get older, chores give them a great start at independence and helps them build a strong work ethic for the future.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to teach children about responsibility, caring for the household and how to come together as a family.
Let them play
Because children learn the most through their peers it’s important to spend time with them playing and having fun.
Not only is this good for their emotional IQ but play allows them the opportunity to continue learning without the stressor of a structured environment.
Imaginative play and games are all part of learning for kids. Playtime shows them it’s important to have a healthy balance of work and play in life.
Make music a part of their life
Expose your children to all kinds of music, starting with classical and soothing music when they are young. Encourage them to sing and dance.
Let them play an instrument, or two, or three. Music is a wonderful way for children to express themselves.
It has been proven that children involved in music tend to have higher IQ’s.
Music improves a child’s academic, physical and social skills.
It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “Music makes you smarter.” It does.
Doing these 8 things really will help you provide an environment where your child’s intelligence can fully bloom. If you want even more tips check out this post on Inc.
Good Luck To you and your family!
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Strong-willed children can be a real challenge to deal with. They often make day to day life pretty difficult.
But being strong-willed is an awesome trait for your child to have. It means that they’re independent thinkers who will likely become leaders someday.
They are natural-born Alphas.
Dealing with them in a positive way will nurture their independence, and teach them to respect and identify their own emotions.
It will also teach them to respect others, even those with different beliefs and opinions.
Below are 6 Positive parenting strategies on how to deal with your strong-willed child.
6 Positive Strategies for Raising a Strong-Willed Child
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Choices over Commands
Giving your child choices from the beginning takes away from the struggle and resistance that often comes up for strong-willed children.
When you choose to take the command approach you’re asking your child to not only conform, but teaching them to follow along with what others say even if it
doesn’t feel right; this could be dangerous later on.
Giving them choices teaches them independent thought that will serve them well into adulthood.
When you offer choices you are offering up a parameter that you are happy with, but also allowing the child to feel in control by making their own decisions.
It truly is a win, win for both of you.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Routine is important for all children no matter the temperament, but for the strong-willed child, it is absolutely necessary.
When you are consistent you are showing them what is expected and helping them adapt; limiting the questioning and confusion that leads to difficult behavior.
Implementing certain rules teaches the child that things won’t always go their way and that there are consequences.
It needs to be crystal clear to them what is acceptable, and what isn’t. Help them understand that rules and the people around them aren’t
going to change just because they want it to.
Life can be difficult to navigate, help them by being fair and consistent in your routine and your application of the rules and consequences.
Give a Heads Up and a Warning before Change
Change is difficult for young children and especially those that are headstrong and independent thinkers.
They have learned behavior and expect things to happen a certain way; when it doesn’t, it becomes frustrating and confusing and they may start to question your routine
and rules as a whole.
By giving them a warning or heads up, you are allowing them enough time to go through their emotions, the thought process and come to terms with what you need to have happened.
Don’t let them or the system break down, respect their need for communication and give them the time they need to adjust.
Listen for the Purpose of Understanding
When your child is trying to express their emotions, their frustrations, wants or needs, it’s important you give them your full attention and listen with the intent of
understanding things from their perspective.
Children have a tough time communicating; they’re still figuring it all out but active listening, watching their body language, and recognizing the tone of their voice can help them be understood.
A strong-willed child is such a blessing and you’re going to be so proud of the person they become, help them by being their advocate, mentor and most importantly, Mom.
Ask a lot of Questions
One of the coolest parts of raising a strong-willed child is that they usually don’t have a problem telling you what they want and need when they are able.
For toddlers and young children they may not be able to fully convey their thoughts and emotion, it’s up to you to ask questions that get to the heart of
what they are trying to tell to you.
It’s easy to have an immediate response, give demands when you’re trying to get something done but you’ll help your child communicate if you take the time to dig deeper; you do this by asking a lot of questions.
If your child is experiencing extreme emotions (positive or negative) you’ll be amazed at what asking questions can do to calm them down and bring them back to normal.
It’s the recognition that you are listening and giving them the outlet they need to communicate.
Be consistent in your own actions and behaviors. By following through, doing what you say every time, staying true to your word and keeping those promises you eliminate confusion and show your child they can rely on and trust you.
If you want to connect with your child on a deeper, personal level be this person for them. It will strengthen your relationship throughout your entire lives.
Learning to nurture a strong-willed child is a great way to help them develop into a robust adult.
Negative reinforcement in the case of a child like this can be really harmful and have a very negative impact on your relationship because they won’t feel heard or understood.
Using the 6 positive parenting strategies above are a great way for you to foster your relationship and help them grow.
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Raising a stubborn child is one of the more difficult challenges of parenting. When I was in college, one of my part-time jobs was babysitting a stubborn child.
During the interview with her mother, I was told that J. was strong-willed. Mom was frustrated and didn’t have any suggestions for how to deal with her stubbornness. With all of the confidence that a nineteen-year-old woman could possibly possess, I was sure that, with all of my years of childcare experience, I would be able to help.
Boy, did J. prove me wrong.
At every opportunity, J. would argue with me. At four-years-old, she could debate me about the color of the sky for an hour. I would walk into the kitchen to put lunch together, and step back into the living room five minutes later to find a crayon masterpiece on the walls.
When nap time rolled around, she would lay in her bed and scream like she was being beaten. Once, I had to run to the store for what I hoped would be a quick trip, with J. in tow. I ended up carrying her out of the store, surfboard style, as she called me names for not buying her a cupcake at the bakery.
What I didn’t Understand then Was that all behavior is communication.
When J. was fiercely defending her right to color on the walls, she was trying to tell me that she needed a creative outlet. When she debated the color of the sky, she just wanted to be right. When she didn’t get what she wanted at the store, she needed some control over her life.
Neither I, nor J’s mom, were being bad caregivers; we just failed to realize that J’s personality was strong and that she needed to be in a leadership position. Kids may also seem stubborn because they are overwhelmed or simply because they are having a bad day.
Today, being blessed with 3 stubborn children of my own, I have learned some ways that I can help my kids get the outcome they need, while I still get the results I need.
Here are five ways I’ve found to help your stubborn child.
Instead of asking your stubborn child to get dressed, which can overwhelm someone to the point of non-compliance, lay out two clothing choices. “Please choose an outfit to wear,” gives those with strong personalities the feeling that they are in control, and helps those who may feel overwhelmed by narrowing their choices down to just two.
You as the parent are happy because kiddo isn’t dressed in purple pants with a yellow top and mismatched socks.
Help the communication
Many times, a child may seem stubborn because they can’t communicate what’s wrong. A child who refuses to eat dinner may have sensory issues, or may merely have a bit of tummy trouble and not feel like eating tonight.
Asking questions can help to narrow down these issues to get to the heart of the matter. However, because young children don’t have all of the tools to effectively communicate more complex needs, you may need to guide them. Keep the questions light, with a conversational tone, so that kiddo doesn’t feel like she is in trouble; if she does, she will get defensive or stop talking altogether.
When I grew up, “because I said so,” was the answer I always received when I asked why. I wasn’t overly stubborn, so this response usually just made me mad. However, with a stubborn child, hearing “because I said so,” is a guarantee of a quick trip to temper tantrum island.
In this case, your child isn’t being stubborn because they don’t like you or they are trying to be difficult; they simply want a deeper understanding of why something has to be done.
A friend of mine has an autistic son who refuses to do anything if the only reason to do so is that it’s socially acceptable. To him, that’s not a valid reason. If she said “because I said so,” he would just not comply with her request.
In that situation, she needs to explain to him why she’s asking him to do a particular task. It’s just the way his brain works.
Keep It Simple
Kids need everything in small doses. When you are trying to find out what triggers your child’s stubbornness, start small. Don’t ask questions for thirty minutes if they refuse to put on their shoes. If you don’t have the answer after a few questions, you have to realize that you are not going to find the solution today, and hope for better results tomorrow. Keeping things simple helps keep your child from feeling overwhelmed or interrogated.
Also make sure that as you make changes to help adjust behavior, you remember the need for small doses. Making accommodations does not mean that stubbornness will end tomorrow. There may be a long road ahead of you.
Get Help When You Need It
Sometimes, parents are not great at communicating with their kids. That’s not a fault in the parent; childhood behavior and communication is something that people study for years, and still don’t consider themselves experts.
There wasn’t a Parenting Fairy who gifted you with the right tools for parenting upon the birth of your child. You are going to stumble occasionally.
When that happens, you may need help. A behavioral therapist that specializes in children may be able to help you and your child communicate better. Seeking help does not make you a failure, or label your child “difficult.”
It merely means that you have reached the point where you realize there is an issue that you alone cannot solve. It happens to all parents at some point.
When you take the time to help a stubborn child, you will find genuinely unexpected rewards.
A child who tested your patience can become loving and compliant when you understand what is triggering the stubbornness. Helping them learn how to communicate better will ease the journey you will be taking together, and will surely make things more comfortable as you navigate the messy teen years, which will happen sooner than you think!
I really hope this helps and good luck 🙂
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