Thoughts on Parenting Boys
A blog entitled, "Why My Kids are NOT the Center of My World" was written by a concerned parent. Stephanie Metz, a mother of two boys, posts a contraversial dialogue that expresses her concerns for modern parents. Stephanie expresses how she does not stop everything to deal with her boys every little need. Instead she feels they sometimes need to learn to solve issues on their own. She gives personal examples of her experiences raising her boys from their normal and natural aggressive behavior to the values she tries to instill in them.
According to the Wall Street Journal, videogame and associated hardware and software sales represent a $600 million a year industry in the United States alone, a massive sum even amidst reports of sluggish sales.
After a spate of horrible school related shootings in the U.S. and abroad, much of the buzz over videogames concerns levels of violence in some games. Like most things, videogame use by children definitely needs to be closely monitored and supervised by parents, but some games have much to offer and could be used effectively to engage boys in school. It's the focal point of important research I'm currently doing with graduate students at Penn State.
Recently, I shared my thoughts on videogames with the folks at 33 Voices Website and hope the parents reading this site find them useful when determining what games if any their children should be allowed to play.
10 gaming insights from Alison Carr-Chellman
1. Video games are part of the answer to re-engaging boys in the classroom.
2. As a society, we aren't rejecting game culture as much as we are rejecting boy culture in schools.
3. When a child is labeled ADHD, first see if he's put in an environment that engages him and demands his attention.
4. Extract from the video games lessons that are aligned with state learning standards.
5. When kids are allowed to choose what they read, they become highly engaged.
6. Creating experiences for kids that puts them in deep role plays is highly motivating.
7. School is not as much about the content as it is about developing character.
8. As a parent, it's especially important to be active in your child's learning from ages 3-10.
9. The opportunity for boys today is to articulate the learning that video games are teaching them to their teachers and parents.
10. As a parent, play video games with your child and keep him involved in other activities.
Dr. Carr-Chellman shares parents' concerns about the growing percentage of children--especially boys--diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder. This New York Times article does a great job illuminating the issue of hyperactivity in boys and is worth a read. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, boys (13.2%) are more likely than girls (5.6%) to be diagnosed with ADHD with boys 2.8 times more likely to be on medication for ADHD.
While any behaviors exhibited by boys in school result in a bona fide ADHD diagnosis, oftentimes the behaviors exhibited by boys are simply normal boy behaviors that don't fit in with the cultural expectations for behavior in school.
School culture in the U.S. often demands rigid conformity so discipline can be maintained and knowledge "infused" into the minds of young people. Scholar John Dewey decried the anti-social nature of U.S. schools as far back as 1938 in his seminal book, Experience and Education. It even makes a difference where your child lives and goes to school.
Since boys are diagnosed with ADHD in
greater numbers than girls, it's critical parents have the right information when confronting such a diagnosis. In such a situation, find out if the culture of your boy's school suits his needs. When a child is labeled ADHD, first see if he's put in an environment that engages him and demands his attention. For example, an artistic and creative boy might not thrive in a private military academy though generations of family members may have done extremely well in that environment.
Learn all you can about ADHD. One of the best places to start is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page at ADHD. For more scientific articles, try the American Academy of Pediatrics. Being armed with the facts and research maybe your best option when confronting this often misunderstood medical issue that may impact your child's growth and development.
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More on Boy Development
We would like to share more information with you. Below you will find topics such as hyperactivity, video game as well as health and wellness. As it pertains to boys, these hot topic areas are important aspects of development. Below we share links to further resources as well as tips to guide parents towards healthy interactions in these areas.
Obesity ranks as one of the most important health threats to all children in the US, but this summer boys go to the front of the line as the focus of concern. The Boy Scouts of America bars overweight boys and scout leaders from its summer Jamboree when their body mass index (BMI) hits 40 or above. While the policy is not new, it raises the flag on the issues of obesity in boys. The CDC again has some of the best background information available on what parents need to do when their male children are overweith. Find out more here.
Hookup Culture: In a teenager's world, "hookup" means no strings attached sex. A new book on the subject by Donna Fretias entitled The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy is drawing a lot of attention these days. While focused on the sexual behavior of college age men and women, Bring Back the Boys wondered about resources to help parents of boys when it's time for "the talk." The American Psychologocial Association offers an in-depth look at the subject put together by researchers at the noted Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.
Neuroscience, Puberty and Boys
Science understands much more about the healthy growth and development of boys. One of the more interesting introductory articles for background is Parenting a Preadolescent Boy: The Middle-Size Child in Mother Earth News.
The ages between 12-15 are a time of rapid organic and physical changes for boys known as puberty. t's a time for sudden growth spurts, sexual feelings, social awkwardness, hormonal changes and peer acceptance, and gender identity, other issues all of which make the pre-teen and teen years especially challenging for both boys and their parents. Setting boundaries but remaining open to dialogue with your boy become critical issues.
Because plays a huge role in the behavior of teens and pre-teens, parents of boys may find The Palo Alto Medical Foundation's bullet points on puberty an easy way to grasp key points about puberty for use in formulating appropriate responses to teen boys' often confounding and sometimes dangerous behaviors. The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center offers similar background.
For those in search of more in-depth scientific research, a wonderful background paper is Linda Patia Spear's The Biology of Adolescence. This article--written by a psychologist--is a turn-key reference resource for anyone interested in exploring the neurosociobiological aspects of teenage puberty. The reference list alone is worth a read.
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