Talking About Feelings With Boys

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As a mother of boys, I’m always listening for data or studies regarding boys and how they learn.  In a system largely geared towards educating girls, I want to make sure my boys have the best change for success in life.

A few months ago, a friend introduced me to an article discussing the differences in the development of memory in boys and girls.

The basic idea of the article is  that girls tend to remember more and with a higher level of detail than boys too.  This applies to childhood memories as well.  For example, a sister might remember a lot more about the same event in childhood than her brother does, even if both were present for this event.

Researchers hypothesize that the reason for this difference may have to do with the way parents talk to their sons versus the way they talk to their daughters.  Parent’s conversations with girls tend to include a much broader discussion of the emotions involved with an event.  Girls are learning that describing the way an event made you feel is part of the process of telling a story.  Boys are not receiving this same message, and parents are less likely to ask their sons how an event makes them feel.

Sure, I want my sons to be able to remember their childhoods well, however, more importantly, I want them to be able to recognize their feelings and learn how to process them in a healthy manner.  Therefore, I made a conscious effort to begin discussing feelings more with my sons.

This can be so much more than just asking about the feelings your child experienced during the course of the day.

Below is a list of ways I’ve found to incorporate discussions about feelings into our daily lives.

  1. While your son is telling you about his day, ask about how specific events made him feel.  I allow Ender to say as much as he wants about his feelings.  Sometimes he elaborates, sometimes he doesn’t.  I don’t pressure him to say more or cut him off if he goes on for a while.  I want him to know his feelings are important to me and they’re good to talk about.
  2. Ask your son to describe how a character in a book might be feeling.  Sometimes, while we’re reading, we stop and talk about how the character is feeling.  This is great, because sometimes this allows us to introduce the words for new feelings Ender is not yet familiar with.  For example, frustration, guilt, uncertainty, etc.
  3. Validate and help to name your son’s feelings.  Sometimes, all it takes is knowing that someone understands.  Often, if Ender is upset about something, it does wonders to validate his feelings.  For example, if he is upset because he can’t zip his coat, I might say, “You’re feeling sad because you can’t zip your coat up!”.  This is an amazingly effective tool and often is enough to allow him to stop crying so we can talk about a solution.
  4. Look through magazines and talk about how the people in the pictures feel.  We get a few magazines and we’ll flip through the pages and talk about the faces we see and the emotions they’re portraying.
  5. Allow your son to cry.  There’s nothing wrong with having strong emotions.  Having a good cry can be healing.  Allow your boys to take the time they need to release powerful emotions and do not judge them for it.

These skills may have positive effects into the school years.  For example, remembering what you were feeling on the day you were studying for that chemistry exam may help you recall more details about that event.  Psychologists refer to these small pieces of data as “retrieval cues”.  The more retrieval cues you have, the more likely you are to remember details about an event.

Talking about feelings means so much more than we think, and it’s fascinating to learn more about how our brains process events in our lives!  Hopefully these tips will allow others to easily begin discussing feelings with their sons!

Three.

Ender is turning three.

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animal cracker

He is caring and very outgoing.

He loves to talk.  I don’t think he has a shy bone in his body.  He’s happy to converse with anyone while we’re out and about.  He also tells me all about his day while we’re driving home from school.  I still can’t understand everything, but his vocabulary is really good.  I couldn’t believe the way he marched right up to Santa without any hesitation.

He loves to read.  I’m convinced that already he can recognize certain words in the books we read often.  I’ll point to a word and, especially if it’s often repeated, he’ll know what it is.  I don’t think he has a favorite book.  He likes all of them.  I think we’re almost ready to start low-level chapter books.  I think he’d understand them.

He loves cars, trains, tractors, and anything else with wheels.  He lines his Hot Wheels up in rows and drives them the floor.  He still loves building elaborate train tracks and gets mad when his brother ruins them.  He uses tools to “fix” his bikes and ride on toys.

He loves his “B”, which is the blanket I made him for first birthday.  He takes it to school every day.  If he knows it’s being washed, he’s happy to take a substitute blanket to school or bed.  He’s very reasonable about it.  He always wants it, but if it were to get lost, I think it’d be fine.  He’s started to call it his “blanket” rather than his “B”, which is heartbreaking.  He’s growing up so quickly.

He’s very good at taking care of his brother, which surprises me.  He’s always bringing him toys and he is concerned about him when he’s crying.  They seem to genuinely enjoy being with one another.

He’s opinionated and outspoken.  He has no problem expressing if he doesn’t like something.  He’s very stubborn and there’s no getting him to do something if he doesn’t really doesn’t want to.  He gets angry if his dad and I play fight (or real fight).  He tells us to stop!

He loves hockey and football.  He loves owls.  He loves his stuffed puppy that was mine when I was a kid.  He loves talking on the phone.  He loves slides.  He loves pancakes.  He love pumpkin seeds (which is actually Pez candy in a pumpkin dispenser).  He loves helping do chores.  He loves making beeswax candles.  He loves wearing hats.  He loves doing yoga with me.  He loves giving hugs and kisses (never one without the other).  He loves playing guitar, piano, and singing loudly (but gets mad if you sing with him).

He has sandy blonde hair and my blue-green eyes.

Happy third birthday Buppy Bear!

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Our Candid Week: December 7 – December 13

Getting our Christmas tree!  No time for a tree farm this year, so we got the tree from a farm stand near our home
Getting our Christmas tree! No time for a tree farm this year, so we got the tree from a farm stand near our home
Christmas lights are magic
Christmas lights are magic
Ender helped decorate the tree - with small ornaments my mom used as gift tags a few years ago (unbreakable!)
Ender helped decorate the tree – with small ornaments my mom used as gift tags a few years ago (unbreakable!)
Ender loves making beeswax candles
Ender loves making beeswax candles
Coloring Christmas elves!
Coloring Christmas elves!
Ender's "pin the star" game for his space themed birthday party
Ender’s “pin the star” game for his space themed birthday party

Our Candid Week: November 30 – December 6

Helping shrink wrap soaps for the craft show
Helping shrink wrap soaps for the craft show
Atlas loves this book.  It's totally his favorite and he wants it read over and over again.
Atlas loves this book. It’s totally his favorite and he wants it read over and over again.
Hanging out in the pink bathroom.
Hanging out in the pink bathroom.
Ender loved the bouncey obstacle course.  What a champ!  He also excelled at the quarterback toss football game.
Ender loved the bouncey obstacle course. What a champ! He also excelled at the quarterback toss football game.
Atlas practicing his walking skills with Da.
Atlas practicing his walking skills with Da.
Ender won this little rubber duck and really loved it.
Ender won this little rubber duck and really loved it.
Laying on the floor of the gym playing with his duck.
Laying on the floor of the gym playing with his duck.
First face painting!  He cried when it got washed off in the bath.  He wanted to hold it.
First face painting! He cried when it got washed off in the bath. He wanted to hold it.
Mama's craft show!
Mama’s craft show!
The best way to sell product at a craft show is to have a cute baby at your display.
The best way to sell product at a craft show is to have a cute baby at your display.

Atlas’ Words

Atlas is quite the talker.  Shortly after turning one, he started saying those typical baby words, “dada” and “mama”.  Well, “mama” sounds more like “nana”, but we know what he means!

Since then, he’s added on a few others.  The third word he’s picked up is “deer”.  No doubt he’s been inspired by the frequent visitors to our backyard.

Just today, he’s increased his vocabulary to four!  He’s started saying “delf”, which we’re pretty sure means “elf”.  Atlas has clearly been inspired by this cheeky little fellow!

elf

Ender called our elf “Elp” the year he turned two.  So it’s extra cute that Altas’ interpretation of the word is “Delf”.

I’m thinking that now that Atlas has a few words down, he’ll begin adding more rapidly.  So exciting!