Teaching Boys in Schools

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When I got my second call from Thumper’s teacher in a three day span, I hung up the phone and had to think for a few moments. Almost ten, Thumper is becoming a calmer and less anxious boy and is learning how to respect authority. So why was he getting into trouble all the time? I could understand the teacher’s fear that our boarder line ADHD energetic Thumper and his pack of friends were going to be the bain of his existence for yet another year but I felt the need to tell him to give Thumper a chance and to practice patience in the first week when the kids are all so excited to reconnect with their buddies and start a new year of learning.

In Raising Cain, an incredible study on boys, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson stress that parents and teachers need to learn how to accept the high activity levels of boys and give them safe boy places to express it. “Many parents of boys do embrace the physicality of boys some do not. Most teachers of boys also love boys; some, unfortunately, do not. Boys are tremendously sensitive to adults who do not have a reasonable tolerance level for boy energy, and when they do sense that a person has a low threshold of boy tolerance, they usually respond to it as a challenge…Boys need to learn how to manage their physicality to do no harm, but they need not be shamed for exuberance.”

I have to admit that I did not immediately catch on to Thumper’s need for sports. He was always so filled with anxiety when trying anything new that I protected him and let him avoid sports early on. It got to the point where I dreaded picking him up from school knowing that I would be barraged with requests to see his friends who were all actively involved in sports and unavailable.

Enough was enough. I lay down the law, Thumper was going to start Lacrosse in the spring and he was going to like it. I was met with some resistance but as soon as we purchased the equipment he grew excited. The first year of Lacrosse was trying and he refused to practice but when he turned eight his agility and confidence grew tenfold. Sports were the answer giving him the opportunity to expend his energy, practice important hand eye coordination and learn to respond and listen to authority.

Football started last week and it was the first time that Brevitt willingly joined a team without knowing or caring if any of his friends were going to be there. It didn’t take long for me to assert my ignorance of the game when I announced to his coach that my son wanted to be a line backer. She means running back, Thumper shyly stated.

The reality is that the quickest way for me to learn football is if I join the team. After all, Thumper’s practice closely resembles what I am suffering every morning in Eric’s boot camp and I feel ready for anything. I’m sure that would go over well!

It is unfortunate for my boys that their mother is completely in the dark about team sports and all their rules but I am trying as best I can to catch on. My excuse is that I grew up with sisters and watching sports on television was about as exciting as sewing.

Later that evening Thumper excitedly put on his new uniform but broke into tears of frustration when I couldnt figure out where all the pads went. He reprimanded me for Twittering during the uniform fitting and told me that I needed to be more focused. We sat there staring at the hip pads wondering why they looked like large outlets. Thankfully, Baddy came home and explained that the holes in the pads were for the belt, which we had neglected to procure.

I am fortunate that Baddy and the boys love and accept me for who I am. After all, they have no choice. The good thing is that Thumper is clearing the path for his brothers and I will no longer hesitate to put them in a sport.

I have learned that there is such a fine line between listening to your childrens fears and taking the courage to push them forward enabling them to become excited to learn more about life’s pleasures whether it be sports or culture.

Boys need to release their energy regularly so that they can think more clearly and become less restless. The truth is their batteries rarely run down, they only get recharged.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Glad I’m not the only one! My boys are young (2 & 4), but they sure wreck havoc at playgroup.
    I’m a little for all the sports-related injuries I have to look forward to.
    Great post!

  2. Hi Jillian – Good lord, don’t join the football team! Get a quickie lesson on the sport from Football for Dummies – better yet, watch a pre-season game on TV with your husband and the boys. It’s a lot less painful than playing it! Won’t take you long – it really is a simple premise – you don’t have to worry about all the penalty stuff initially. Enjoy! Football is great fun ———to WATCH! haha

  3. I raised three sons and completely agree. My boys played junior tennis and were highly ranked in the state, the south, and one in the nation. The one with the national ranking played a year of college tennis. And he was my shyest son who did not want to get out of the car to attend his first lesson at age seven. I made him go, and afterward he thanked me.

  4. I have four young nephews that all belong to my middle brother, and OH MY GOD… Boys have energy! What a fantastic post, and I loved how you said “their batteries rarely run down, they only get charged.” Any time I’ve watched young boys, that’s been my experience. I give you so much credit for not only raising boys, but seeking to understand them and what they need. Hope it’s a GREAT season!

  5. My cousin’s 4 year-old son is a rambunctious soul. His energy level tires adults out. This cousin recalls his own high childhood energy level and is already talking about registering his son for sports. My cousin was an avid hockey player and was also into other sports. These activities effectively gave him a way to channel his energy and build self-confidence. Every behaviour is a sign. You can choose to respond with love.

  6. Hi Jillian! Thank you for stopping by my blog this morning. Ahh, football. I was never interested. However I married Notre Dame’s Biggest Fan Ever, and so began learning about college football 15 yrs ago. I still don’t 100% get all the rules/positions and stuff, but I do like to watch and generally know what’s going on.

    Now that my son is playing, I have a favorite player. http://www.milkbreathandmargaritas.com/2009/07/are-you-ready-for-some-football.html

    I love your blog name too. I actually ask myself that like 12 times a day.

  7. Oh my, I’ve giggled ’til I snorted over here — the description of you trying to make sense of the pads, and Brevitt’s accusation of Twittering during the uniform fitting… priceless! Still laughing.

    I have to show this to my sister, who has two boys and has had to become as active as they are in order to keep up. (My nephews are ALWAYS MOVING.) Is “Raising Cain” a book, or a white paper? I’ll Google it. I’m sure she would love to read it.

    Great post, my bloggy sister!

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