ON BOYS Podcast

By Janet Allison, Jennifer LW Fink

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Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching, and Reaching Tomorrow’s Men

Episode Date
Masks We Wear with Ashanti Branch
Our boys often wear metaphorical masks. We all do, in fact. At work, we typically wear our confident, professional faces. At home, we aim for warm, nurturing and competent. But underneath, we may be feeling anger, frustration, sadness or shame. Our "masks" allow us to go about our days and meet our responsibilities without ruffling too many feathers or attracting too much attention. Boys don masks for the same reason. Our boys are swimming in a soup of messages that tell them exactly how boys should look and behave. So, to meet expectations and find social acceptance, boys often adopt personas and attitudes that conceal their true personalities and feelings. Ashanti Branch, founder and executive director of Ever Forward Club, helps boys (and girls) identify and remove their masks. He helps them get in touch with their inner selves and emotions, so they can connect authentically with themselves and others. He also helps educators understand and connect with students.   In this episode, Janet, Jen & Ashanti discuss: Social pressures that affect boys Why telling a boy he's "the man of the house" is harmful The #100K Mask Challenge Why it may take boys a long time to remove their masks Why treating boys as if they're giving their best is often a better option than nagging or negatively engaging How to create space for boys to be human Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Ever Forward Club -- Ashanti's non-profit The Mask You Live In -- 2015 documentary about boys' struggles with masculinity; features Ashanti. The film is currently available on Amazon Prime. #100K Masks Challenge --  Ashanti & Ever Forward's effort to engage 100,000 people from all over the world in self-reflection The Masks We All Wear -- TEDx talk by Ashanti LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends: Twitter:  Use this link Facebook:  Use this link LinkedIn: Use this link Pinterest: Use this link STAY CONNECTED: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report on “Understanding Boys Better – and Why He Needs You Now More Than Ever” and  BuildingBoys.net Also, follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetallison/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferlwfink/
Jul 18, 2019
Sensory Processing Disorder with Nancy Peske
Do you know what sensory processing disorder (SPD) is?  Many parents (and teachers) don't, but 5-15% of all children exhibit symptoms of SPD, which affects how they learn, socialize and interact with the world. It's possible that your child has a sensory processing problem that you haven't yet recognized as an issue with available & effective interventions. Nancy Peske, aka The Sensory Smart Parent, is a co-author of Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues. She's also the mother of a son who has SPD. Nancy Peske According to Nancy, children who have sensory processing issues may: Have problems eating (particular textures may bother them, for instance) Be overly sensitive to stimulation -- or under-sensitive to stimulation Struggle with body awareness and control Exhibit language delays Constantly seek movement Be easily overwhelmed and distracted Have difficulty with reading and fine motor control For some reason, the bodies and brains of people with sensory  issues process sensory stimuli differently than most people. Their experience of the world is very different, and that can lead to misunderstanding. The more you know about sensory processing challenges, the better prepared you'll be to recognize and respond to the symptoms. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Nancy discuss: What sensory processing is Signs & symptoms of sensory processing disorder Why you should always trust your instincts (Got concerns about your child's development? Talk to your pediatrician. Keep pushing. Ask for an evaluation.) How to find help for children with sensory challenges Sensory diets Interventions to help children with sensory processing issues How movement helps boys with sensory issues The role of "heavy work" in manage sensory processing disorder How the changing expectations of childhood may be contributing to a rise in SPD diagnoses Screen time and sensory processing disorder (Spoiler: "Kids with sensory issues often have a different relationship with technology than you might expect," Nancy says. "It's often helping them learn.") How teachers can accommodate sensory processing issues Why recess should NEVER be taken away from children with sensory challenges Classic children's games that can help kids with sensory issues Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: sensorysmartparent.com -- Nancy's website (includes links to all her social channels) Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues, by Nancy Peske & Lindsey Biel Helping Boys with Sensory Issues -- 2016 Building Boys interview with Nancy Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist Balancing Screen Time for Boys & Kids with Sensory Issues -- YouTube video featuring Nancy & Jen Creating an Inclusive Classroom -- Scholastic Teacher article by Jen; mentioned at 28:17 STAY CONNECTED: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report on “Understanding Boys Better – and Why He Needs You Now More Than Ever” and  BuildingBoys.net Also, follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetallison/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferlwfink/
Jul 11, 2019
Encouraging Independence
As we in the United States celebrate our nation's independence, we reflect on our boys' drive for independence.  Toddlers cry, "I do it!" when we attempt to put on their clothes. Our teens scowl when we tell them what time to be home. Their frustration -- toddlers' & teens' alike -- is driven by their desire for mastery and control. Children are wired to learn. They're wired to gradually take on more and more responsibility. "Kids," Jen reminds us, "have an innate drive for independence. You can use that to your advantage." Of course, it's not always easy for adults to release control. Our boys' judgement seems questionable at times (often, in some cases!). We worry for their safety. And sometimes, we simply don't recognize that our little ones are capable of more. We don't see the ways in which our well intentioned actions may be handicapping our boys' development. It's never too late to begin giving your boys more independence. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: Age-appropriate responsibilities Why ages 0-7 is the perfect time to introduce skills & healthy habits (Spoiler: O-7 is the Age of Imitation) Why investing in right-sized tools is a great investment in your child's development How to make time to allow your child to develop his skills How building a child's independence prevents entitlement and apathy Why it's so hard to give our boys autonomy How to get buy-in from older boys who aren't used to managing their own affairs How to deal with resistance Dealing with the heartache & pain of letting go Independence vs interdependence Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Why Boys Need More Independence -- Building Boys post Parenting: Raise Independent Children -- excelled Psychology Today post 5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting - Janet's online course; mentioned at 12:20 How to Deal with an Unmotivated Boy -- one of Building Boys' most popular posts Hygiene Help for Tween & Teen Boys -- On Boys episode 120; mentioned at 15:30 The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, by William Stixrud PhD & Ned Johnson  Waldorf Education turns 100 this year.  Find out more about Waldorf Education here:  https://www.waldorfeducation.org/ STAY CONNECTED: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report on “Understanding Boys Better – and Why He Needs You Now More Than Ever” and  BuildingBoys.net Also, follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetallison/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferlwfink/
Jul 04, 2019
Summer Survive and Thrive Tips
Ahhhh, summer! Relaxed lazy days....oh, who are we kidding?!? For most parents in the Northern hemisphere, summer is a time of stress. The kids are home from school and the parents have to somehow juggle their regular work schedule while also trying to keep their kids engaged, active and on screens for less than 12 hours a day. Navigating summer responsibilities and expectations is a challenge for the whole family. If we can give you one piece of advice, it's this: Relax your standards. You don't have to take the kids to the pool weekly. Your kids can stay up later; strict bedtimes really aren't as important if the kids don't have to be anywhere in the morning. PJs are perfectly acceptable summer attire, at least sometimes. And no one -- seriously: no one -- is expecting a gourmet meal every night. Focus your attention on what's important to you and your children instead. Our summer tips will help you do just that. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: Common summer challenges Why boredom is perfectly OK (in fact, it's important!) Balancing scheduled vs unscheduled activity How to prevent "summer slide" (loss of academic skills) Fun FREE activities Summer jobs for kids (even kids younger than 16) Summer schedules Recording summer memories Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Surviving Summer -- classic Building Boys post Kids Bowl Free -- 2 free games of bowling daily for registered children at participating centers Planet Fitness Teen Challenge -- high school teens ages 15 - 18 can work out at any of  1,800 locations throughout the United States and Canada for FREE all summer long Free Meals -- No Kid Hungry runs a summer meals texting service. Text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 to find free summer meals sites in your neighborhood. On Boys Episode 117: Summer Jobs On Boys Episode 114: Sleepovers, Camp & Separation Anxiety On Boys Episode 118: Business Tips for a 12-Year-Old Entrepreneur Keeping Bored Boys Occupied During the Summer Holidays -- Building Boys post Summer Safety: Preventing Injuries -- Building Boys post   STAY CONNECTED: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report on "Understanding Boys Better - and Why He Needs You Now More Than Ever" and  BuildingBoys.net Also, follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetallison/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferlwfink/
Jun 27, 2019
Backcountry, Barbells & Boys
What do you get when you mix two fitness- and outdoors-minded dads with two moms who are staunch advocates for boys? A freewheeling discussion that touches on everything from fatherhood to weapons play and the current lack of movement in schools. Janet met Jaremy Day, co-host of the podcast Backcountry & Barbells, when she spoke at an event in Washington state. As a former boy and current dad of 2 boys & a girl, he's all too familiar with the challenges facing boys today. His co-host, Joe Szymanek (pronounced Sh-mon-ek), is also a father. He has three young children (one is a boy) and also teaches middle school. Despite the fact that they are both former boys & current parents of boys, neither Joe nor Jaremy were really aware of the obstacles and challenges that make life difficult for boys -- until Joe discovered Christina Hoff Sommers & The War on Boys via Joe Rogan and Jaremy heard Janet speak. Think about that: we are a culture that pins so much blame on individual boys that even men and boys aren't aware of all of the ways school and society work against boys' interests. All too often, boys, parents & teachers think the problem lies within the boy, without recognizing the many ways we've all contributed to the problem. For instance, in many schools, students who do not have PE that particular day stand or move for less than one hour a day. (Joe actually calculated this out with his students.) Growing children who NEED movement to develop their bodies and minds are denied the opportunity to move and often punished if they do so out of turn. (Raise your hand if your son has ever gotten in trouble for wiggling or squiggling or refusing to stay on the rug in the classroom.) via GIPHY In this episode, Janet, Jen, Jaremy & Joe discuss: The value of outdoors time & play The war on boys How schools contribute to boys' struggles Corporal punishment The influence of coaches Creating a culture of movement (including specific ideas parents & teachers can use at home or in the classroom) Screen time (because a group of parents cannot come together today without touching on screen time!) The plight of high-energy boys Hunting and guns Weapons play Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Backcountry & Barbells -- Jaremy & Joe's podcast StandUpKids.org -- website mentioned at 13:58 NASP -- National Archery in Schools Program Joe Rogan Experience #724: Christina Sommers -- podcast episode mentioned at 5:03 The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men, by Christina Hoff Sommers -- book mentioned at 5:43 Hudson Highlands Nature Museum -- includes the Grasshopper Grove natural playground mentioned around 37:45
Jun 20, 2019
Breaking the Boy Code
The Boy Code. The Man Box. Whatever you want to call it, our boys are constrained by a largely unspoken set of expectations that exert pressure on them to behave and act in certain ways. Jonathon Reed helps boys -- and others -- understand and question these expectations. His podcast, Breaking the Boy Code, features real boys talking about their real, lived experiences. Reed adds the voices and insights of experts to each episode, and it's impossible to listen to even one episode and not be moved by the plight of boys and men. It's impossible to listen and not learn something. Jonathon Reed, creator of Breaking the Boy Code podcast, & friend While many people talk about boys, Jonathon talks with boys. He gives them a safe space to explore their thoughts and experiences of masculinity, and he gives them a venue to share their insights with others. For instance, after reports of sexual assault and hazing at St. Michael's College in Toronto made international news, Jonathan asked boys about their experience. Was the episode at St. Michael's an aberration, or something boys commonly experience? Why does hazing persist? How does it affect boys? The resulting episode, In That Moment You're Scared: Boys & Hazing, is a must-listen. Seriously: if you are raising boys, teaching boys or coaching boys, you need to go listen to it. Right now. (We'll wait.) As a child, Jonathon says, "I got told everyday, 'The way you're being a boy is not okay.'" Today, he helps boys understand that it's perfectly okay to be themselves. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Jonathon discuss: Hazing Building relationships with boys The Boy Code How to help boys handle social stereotypes and peer pressure Why you need to know what's going on in your son's life How to talk to boys about social expectations -- & how to support them when they want to step beyond the norm The search for safety How boys' experience & express emotion How to equip boys to handle spaces with no supervision (such as locker rooms) Why you shouldn't take your boy's moods personally Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Breaking the Boy Code podcast In That Moment You're Scared: Boys & Hazing -- Episode 1 of Breaking the Boy Code Cracking the Boy Code: How to Understand and Talk with Boys, by Adam Cox -- book mentioned at 24:21 Next Gen Men -- a Canadian-based nonprofit organization engaging, educating, and empowering men and boys around gender in schools, communities, and workplaces Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons From the Myths of Boyhood, by William Pollack -- the first book by the author mentioned at 14:50
Jun 13, 2019
Managing the Transition to College
Do you have a son heading off to college or university this fall? How about in the future? The more you know about the college search and admission process, the easier this transition will be -- for your son, for you and for your entire family. Dr. Pamela Ellis, author of What to Know Before they Go and founder of Compass College Advisory, has helped many families navigate college preparation and the transition from high school to university. She says that lack of knowledge -- the "unknown" -- complicates the process, causing unnecessary anxiety and stress. She also reminds us that one of the most important questions we can ask our college-bound kids is "Why?" -- as in, Why are you going to college? What do you hope to get from the experience? That question might seem extremely simplistic, but it's crucial. Your child's answer will help him focus his energies and find the path that's most appropriate for him. It may also highlight a disconnect. If your expectations, hopes and dreams for your child's college experience are radically different than your child's, one (or both of you) is bound to be disappointed. Better to have these conversations in advance! Pamela also encourage us to take a holistic view of college preparation. When your child is in middle school, developing social skills and taking some tentative steps toward independence (by gradually assuming more responsibility, for instance) IS college prep. Children also need to learn how to spend time alone. High school students should develop self-advocacy skills and increasing self-awareness. Teenagers must be in charge of college planning, Pamela says. Your child may benefit from your guidance and experience, but ultimately, your child should lead. If you're having a hard time letting go or are concerned about some of your child's choices, Pamela suggests involving a third party, such as a teacher, coach or guidance counselor who's already a part of your child's life. "Kids hear things differently from their parents than they do from a third party," she says. "They could say the same thing that you're saying but somehow it just sounds totally different when they say it than when you say it as a parent." In this episode, Janet, Jen & Pamela discuss: Why the summer between high school and college is particularly challenging for teens & their parents -- and how to make it easier Why YOU need to be confident when your son is leaving home What parents of middle-schoolers need to know about college How an interest inventory can help your child create a realistic post-high school plan How reading for pleasure prepares kids for college and beyond How to minimize stress in the college preparation process Why visiting colleges too soon is a very bad idea Managing college costs 4 key features to ensure that a college is the right fit Gap years (and why a gap year may be a particularly good idea for boys!) How working with an independent college counselor can save you time & money How to find a trustworthy, ethical college consultant Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: What to Know Before They Go: College Edition -- Pamela's book Compass College Advisory -- Pamela's website. Includes lots of FREE, helpful information about college preparation Want Your Son to Succeed in College (& Life)? Do This -- classic BuildingBoys blog post Will He Ever Grow Up?! - OnBoys episode mentioned at 26:45 AmeriCorps - gap year option mentioned at 27:30 (AmeriCorps programs are community service oriented and include a living stipend) How to Find the Right College: 5 Key Steps to Helping Your Teen Find the Right College Without Stressing Through the Process -- Pamela's webinar, mentioned at 30:45 IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association)
Jun 06, 2019
Teaching Boys Social Skills
Boys interact differently than girls do. Sure, some of that is socialization. (A lot of that is probably socialization.) But the fact remains: boys' interactions on the playground, in school and at home are different than girls'. The way boys greet and play with one another is different than the way girls do so -- and if you're a mom or teacher of boys, odds are good that you've never been a boy yourself and don't understand the nuances of male interaction. Most boys naturally pick up these nuances. But some kids, particularly children with ADHD or autism, do not. These kids need extra assistance and support as they learn social skills. Unfortunately for our boys, many of people who do that work are middle-aged females who don't "speak" tween or teenage boy. Ryan Wexelblatt does. Ryan Wexelblatt Ryan is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with boys. He's also the father of a 21 year old son. Raising a son ignited Ryan's interest in teaching social skills to boys -- and highlighted the need to teach social skills from a male perspective. (Did you know that the vast majority of people who teach social skills are women, while the vast majority of kids who require help with social skills are boys?) "These boys were learning social communication skills that weren't organic to the way boys their age spoke to each other," Ryan says. "It was overly formal, it was a lot of scripted behavior." Essentially, he says, many boys who were receiving formal social skills training "were being taught to speak like middle-aged women" -- which wasn't doing them any favors on the playground. Ryan helps boys navigate friendships and social situations. Listen & learn how you can support your boys' social development. In this episode, Jen & Ryan discuss: Male/male social communication How to differentiate disrespect from "roasting" & sarcasm The importance of perspective-taking skills (& how to teach them) Appropriate vs. needs-some-support social behavior Signs of social problems The difference between social anxiety and social learning challenges Signs and symptoms of social anxiety How to help boys with social anxiety Why accommodating social anxiety is the absolute wrong thing to do (& what to do instead) How to talk to your child about learning differences Techniques you can use to reinforce and teach social skills How to develop boys' social problem solving skills -- so they can solve playground and friendship disputes on their own! Why trusting your instincts is a better option than soliciting parenting advice online Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Ride The Wave Counseling -- Ryan's counseling service (includes info about online coaching and his summer camp) ADHD Dude -- the online home of Ryan's ADHD work. Includes a link to his ADHD Dude Facebook group, and will soon feature an Executive Function class for parents as well as a Social Skills class for boys socialthinking.com -- includes lots of free articles about social, emotional & mental health Dudes Learn Social -- Ryan's series of YouTube videos aimed directly at boys
May 30, 2019
Will He Ever Grow Up?!
Photo by Daniel Hooker via Flickr   When do boys grow up? That question tends to elicit a chuckle; ask it in a group of middle-aged women, and you're likely to hear someone joke about their not-yet-grown husband. Ask it in a group of men, and well, you'll hear much the same thing. But to anxious parents, the when do they grow up? question is anything but funny. Parents of teenage boys wonder if their won't-listen, leaves-his-clothes-all-around-the-house-and-never-wants-to-do-anything-but-play-video-games boys will ever turn into responsible young men who can hold down a job. Parents of toddlers wonder if they'll ever be potty-trained, and parents of preschool boys wonder if their guys are prepared for kindergarten. Moms, in particular, are often anxious about their sons' futures. That's because females, in general, worry into the future, Janet says. We look at what's right in front of us and wonder how that will affect situations we see looming in the future. Which is reasonable, right? When you anticipate what's coming, you can prepare for it. But only to a certain extent. The future is always uncertain, and sometimes our worry about what might happen in the future keeps us from enjoying and appreciating the present. Of course, our worries aren't unfounded. There's plenty of reasons to worry about boys' preparation for the future. Consider these stats: Boys are less likely to succeed in school than girls Boys are more likely to get in trouble at school Boys are less likely to graduate from high school & less likely to attend college Boys are less likely to work in high school and college Men ages 18-24 are more likely to live with their parents than their female counterparts Males Develop at a Different Pace Boys' and girls' brains and bodies develop according to unique timetables. At birth, newborn boys are developmentally about 2 weeks behind newborn girls. Girls typically develop fine-motor control and verbal skills before boys do, and boys' gross-motor skills tend to develop before their fine-motor skills. By school age, girls generally are able to sit and listen for a longer period of time than boys. Females' brain tend to mature years before males' brains. The prefrontal cortex -- the part of the brain that controls impulsivity and organization -- doesn't fully develop until age 25 in men, compared to age 21 for women. Unfortunately, our expectations don't always match our boys' development. If parents and teachers expect a 6-year-old boy to sit and read quietly for 20 minutes, they're likely to be disappointed; the part of the brain that handles language matures much later in boys than in girls, so many 6-year-old boys are not yet independent readers, and most struggle to sit still for longer than a few minutes. Boys who don't meet developmentally inappropriate expectations aren't "bad;" they've simply been asked to do something they're not yet ready to do. It's much easier to work with boys' natural timetable. It's a LOT easier -- and a lot less frustrating -- to teach reading to a boy who is ready to read. In the meantime, you can  read aloud to your son, for instance, while his brain continues to grow and mature. You can point out letters and squiggle them in the sand during play. And you can educate others about boys' developmental timetable. How to Support Boys' Development Don't compare your son to others Recognize that he can do more than you may be allowing him to do Let your son take risks Wait before "rescuing" your son Involve boys in household work Teach/role model interpersonal and communication skills Connect them to the adult world Discuss opportunities Relax Delight in your son In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: How worry can steal happiness in the present, and affect our relationship with our boys Male development Why it's important to understand the difference between expectations and reality
May 23, 2019
Finding Balance & Handling Disrespect (Listener Q & A)
Photo by Veronique Debord-Lazaro via Flickr We recently put out a call for listener questions, and boy, did you send 'em to us! Deanna asked: about the struggle of trying to find the perfect balance of keeping your boys busy enough to stay out of trouble, yet not overscheduled Erin asked us how to handle a "chatty" son who insists he's the one being unfairly targeted at school: Our son is almost 10, and in 4th grade. We've always heard report card feedback of "we know that he can talk and get his work done at the same time, but he needs to respect the fact that other students are disrupted by his talking." Ok, I get it -- I heard the exact same feedback on my report cards. We're chatty people! But now we're getting negative reports that are more serious because when he is asked to stop talking or joking around in class/after care, he is defiant, keeps doing what he's doing, and then tries to talk back when he gets a consequence. And when we talk to him about it, he acts like a victim who is unfairly persecuted...He'll argue with his teachers that his behavior isn't that bad, and that they're just being hard on him.  We're not sure how to handle this. He has certainly talked back to us at home before many times, and we feel like we know what to do about it. But he has NEVER been disrespectful to his teachers...Any advice would be lovely! Penny asked a related question: When is "disrespect" really DISRESPECT? How much attention, energy and punishment should we devote to it? Is it that they really need to be listened to and understood without judgement? In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: The myth of "perfect balance" Balancing your sons' need for activity with your family schedule The culture of busyness How to help a son who doesn't accept responsibility for his behavior and blames others instead Emotional development of 9- and 10-year old boys How to effectively collaborate your son's teacher to solve behavioral challenges (Hint: Involve your son!) How to differentiate between "disrespect," thoughtless behavior and sarcasm Dealing with disrespect How to discuss respect and disrespect with your son (Note: You need to be very, very concrete! What does respect look like? What is disrespect?) Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: You Asked About Age 14, Implicit Bias and Sensitive Boys (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode 144 Help! My Son Has a Girlfriend (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode  127 Lying, Risk & How to Advocate for Boys (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode 113 Potty Talk, Vaping & School (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode 112 Emails and Phone Calls From Teachers -- On Boys Episode 131 (includes the story about Sam's struggle w his art teacher, as mentioned at 8:56) Helping Boys Deal with Negative Stereotypes -- On Boys episode mentioned at 10:59 How to Advocate for Your Son - The live webinar with Janet has aired but you'll get the replay when you register. Boys Alive FB Group BuildingBoys FB Group
May 16, 2019
How to Raise a Boy with Michael C. Reichert
How do you raise boys to become great men? That's the big question we tackle here at On Boys. It's the question Jen grapples with in her own home and on BuildingBoys, and the question Janet helps parents and teachers explore and answer through her coaching and online courses. Michael C. Reichert has spent a lot of time studying this question as well. He's a psychologist, dad & grandfather of boys and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Boys' and Girls' Lives. He's also the author of the recently released book, How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men. The key, he says, is to make sure your boys feel known and loved. Many people today blame "toxic masculinity" for violent, entitled and racist behavior in men and boys. But blaming "masculinity" for these behaviors draws attention away from the ways the current method of raising and socializing boys leads to all kinds of harms, including loss of virtue, loss of connection and loss of humanity, Reichert says. Unfortunately, stereotypes about boys & masculinity cause many of us to forget or neglect boys' basic need for connection. Pushing a boy out of the nest too early -- insisting he go it alone with minimal support -- does not lead to strength, resilience and grit. Boys who lack a solid relational anchor (usually, a strong relationship with a parent or other adult) are adrift -- and these the boys who harm themselves and others. Of course, boys don't make connection easy. Thanks in part of stereotypes and societal expectations, boys are likely to resist, reject and avoid your efforts to connect. Try anyway. Keep trying. Reichert recommends these three strategies to build connection:  1 Deep listening 2. Special time 3. The listen-limit-listen model of discipline It's possible to reach your son, no matter how disconnected he may be, Reichert says. It is never too late to develop and deepen your relationship with your son. Raising good boys, Reichert says, is really quite simple.  "If we violate boys' basic natures, bad outcomes will ensue," he says, "If we meet their basic needs, they're likely to wind up connected to their hearts, connected to their virtue and connected to their goodness." Memorial to the victims of the Portland MAX train shooting In this episode, Janet, Jen & Michael discuss: The importance of connection to boys How relationships help boys become good men The "Man Box" & how it restricts & harms boys The 2017 MAX train attack in Portland & what it teaches us about masculinity Toxic masculinity The mama's boy myth (Spoiler alert: It is NOT TRUE that only men can teach boys how to be good men) Dads' role in raising boys (Spoiler: It's NOT to teach him the secrets of masculinity) 3 strategies to build connection with boys Why boys won't work for teachers they don't believe care about them How stereotypes affect boys' behavior Why you need to create space & time to simply be delighted by your boys How to control your emotions so you can become emotionally available to your son Why it's perfectly OK to not be perfect Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men -- Michael's book michaelcreichert.com -- Michael's website (includes contact information) The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger -- book by Kate Stone Lombardi When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity -- book by Judy Chu, mentioned at 19:58 The Truth About Parenting Teen Boys -- BuildingBoys post that addresses the "asshole" question mentioned at 28:00
May 09, 2019
Helping Boys Deal with Negative Stereotypes
Photo by Pat Knight via Flickr Boys are subject to negative stereotypes too. If you've been parenting boys for awhile, that fact probably isn't news to you. You've probably heard your son complain about teachers who treat boys differently than girls. Maybe you've seen the way other moms watch your son -- and you -- at the park, as if they expect your son to cause trouble at any moment. If you're new to parenting boys, it might surprise you to learn that a lot people assume (consciously and subconsciously) that boys are troublemakers. Worse yet, these assumptions color the way people talk about and interact with our boys -- which affects our boys, socially and emotionally. A 2018 study, The Education of Playful Boys: Class Clowns in the Classroom, found that kindergarten teachers regard active, playful boys as "rebellious" and "intrusive." These attitudes transferred to the children. By the time the children were in 3rd grade, both the boys and their classmates had internalized the teachers' negative perceptions of the "class clowns." Is is any wonder that boys, on a whole, are less interested in school than girls? Or that boys are far more likely than girls to be suspended and expelled? Despite its prevalence, anti-boy/anti-male bias is not often discussed. Socially, we've made a lot of progress in addressing racial stereotypes and sexist behavior toward women, but negative assumptions about males are rarely acknowledged. One of the things we can do, as boy parents and advocates, is draw attention to persistent negative stereotypes. We can point them out. We can share our experiences with other families and insist on equitable treatment of our boys. And we can talk honestly about negative stereotypes. Our boys already know that many people are quick to assume the worst about boys. They need us to acknowledge that fact. They need us to help them untangle stereotype from reality. We also have to equip our boys with the tools they need to stand strong in the face of anti-boy messages. You can begin by loving your son unconditionally, as is. In this episode, Janet & Jen: The "feel good" news story about middle school boys befriending a boy with autism at a local skate park -- and the negative stereotypes embedded in that story How to respond when your son reports stereotyping or misunderstandings at school How to help your son process negative stereotypes The link between fear and implicit bias Connection as a cure for implicit bias and negative stereotypes How to effectively teach self-advocacy skills Why moms of boys might be boys' best advocates Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Stop Assuming Boys Are Bad -- BuildingBoys blog post The Education of Playful Boys: Class Clowns in the Classroom -- research study mentioned at about 7:00 Don't Assume the Worst About Boys -- U.S News article by Jen How My Son, and a Pleather Jacket, Schooled Me on Being a 10-Year-Old Boy Today -- Washington Post article mentioned at 9:40 The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys -- book mentioned by Janet at 15:18 Boys Will Be Boys? How Schools Can Be Guilty of Gender Bias -- Guardian article
May 02, 2019
Trust Yourself Mama (w Kelly Goodwin)
Kelly Goodwin is boy mom extraordinaire. Kelly Goodwin w her husband & 5 boys She's got 5 boys (currently ages 8-16), a degree in child development and a slew of nieces and nephews. If parenting boys has taught her anything, it's the power of trusting your instincts. That's why she launched Trust Yourself Mama, a YouTube channel that encourages parents of young children to trust themselves. Kelly's videos are short & sweet, so they're perfect for time-swamped parents who need a bit of encouragement and insight. Thanks to the internet (and podcasts!), parents today have instantaneous access to more parenting information than our grandparents could have ever envisioned. But all of that information can be a bit overwhelming. Kelly reminds us that we parents know our kids better than anyone. The parenting tips we find online might sound great, but only we can decide if those tips will be effective or helpful in our families. Kelly's videos are designed to be conversation-starters. You can watch them with your spouse or parenting partner, and then discuss your reactions. Her videos give you the chance to think carefully about your parenting goals and choose strategies aligned with your family values and goals. Kelly is quick to tell you that she doesn't have all the answer. Five boys and 16 years into parenting, she's still not sure when her boys need a dose of reality and when it would be better to simply encourage their dreams.   In this episode, Janet, Jen & Kelly discuss: How to decide when to send your son to school (especially if he has a late summer birthday) Making tough parenting decisions Learning to "adjust on the fly" Why it's important to understand what motivates each of your children The value of intuition in parenting How a family mission statement can help you make effective parenting decisions The importance of consistency in parenting How our emotions can hijack our parenting Boys' desire for a cheerleader Self-care for busy moms -- & why it's not selfish The stupid questions people ask parents of all boys, including the ever-popular "So, you gonna keep trying for a girl?" Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Trust Yourself Mama -- Kelly's YouTube channel
Apr 25, 2019
How to Listen to Him – So He Will Want to Talk with You
"He just won't talk to me." If you've ever uttered those words, you are not alone. Nearly every parent of boys has complained and/or worried about their sons' silence. We know that there's a lot going on in our boys' lives and we want to help -- but how can we help if they won't even tell us what's going on? Psychogeography, Janet says, might be the answer. (Don't know what that is? Don't worry! Jen didn't either.) The term psychogeography refers to the influence of geographical environment on the mind or on behavior. In other words, WHERE you are can influence communication. Think about it: hollering through a door sets an entirely different tone than sitting side-by-side in the car. As a parent, you can't make your son talk -- but there's a lot you can do to set the stage. Your actions, body language and behavior tell your son a lot about whether or not it's "safe" to talk to you. Phrases such as "My door is always open" and "You can tell me anything" are empty words to most boys. If you want your son to talk, you must first prove to your son -- through you words and behavior -- that you won't make things worse and are physically and emotionally available. Here's an acronym you can use to set yourself up for success: :  T.A.L.K. T -  The timing of your conversation. Be sensitive to your son's signals. A -  Incorporate action. Boys o best when they can do something physical during conversation. L - Love. Boys need to know that they're okay whatever is happening with them. K - Keep it kid-friendly. Choose developmentally appropriate words, and engage in your boy's world and interests. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: The importance of listening Phrases that don't work How to set aside time for communication Why side-by-side conversations are often the most productive The T.A.L.K. approach to conversation How to fix things if the conversation goes badly (Note: It is ALWAYS the adult's responsibility to repair the relationship. Don't expect your son to take the first step) Why you must be vulnerable in conversation How to set realistic expectations Males' tendency to process feelings via action & females' tendency to process via words Timing conversation (a.k.a, why it's important to make yourself available when they want to talk) Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: How to Listen so Boys Will Talk -- BuildingBoys blog post by Rob Brown What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents -- New York Times article mentioned at 6:14 How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men -- book by Michael C. Reichert, mentioned at about 10:30 Episode 129: Grief with Tom Golden -- podcast episode mentioned at 16:41
Apr 18, 2019
Learning to Live with Boys (w Katy Rank Lev)
Katy Rank Lev has 3 feral sons. (Her words, not ours!) And up until her first son was born nine years ago, Katy had zero experience living with boys. She recently sent us this message :  I just had to write in and tell you all how meaningful your podcast is for me. I have all sisters and 12 female cousins...I never spent time w boys until I had 3! Your podcast is both validating and practical for me. Today, my oldest son asked if he could dismantle the dresser he broke before we hauled it out to the trash. I paused. And then said yes. All of my sons spent several peaceful hours dismantling the broken dresser, categorizing the metal bits they pulled out, splintering the paperboard into evenly sized stakes to hunt vampires. It was the most imaginative and wonderful morning we’ve had in weeks. Thank you for teaching me it’s ok to say yes to that!! As a "boy mom," Katy is not alone. It's so hard for moms of boys to figure out what's OK. We desperately want to raise boys who become decent, respectful men, but we aren't exactly sure if allowing fart jokes at the table will hinder that process. We want our boys to be active, strong and creative, but when they want to take apart furniture or wrestle at the playground, we're not sure if our job is to encourage them or rein them in. And through it all, we feel the weight of other parents' expectations. Learning to live with (and parent) boys is a skill. As Katy discovered, the more you know about boys, the better you can meet their needs -- and the more peaceful and joyful your home will be. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Katy discuss: The value of free play The benefits of saying YES Why you should let your kids use real tools Parenting "firecracker boys" How letting go of your expectations can create a happier home The stupid comments people make when they see an all-boy family Dealing with judgments from moms of girls The importance of connecting with other parents of boys Learning to listen to your instincts Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 156: katyranklev.com -- Katy's website (includes lots of links to her articles!) Comments From Strangers Upon Seeing My 3 Sons Out in Public This Week: An Annotated List -- Katy's Brain,Child article Step Lively: When Baby's Cries Are Cries for Help -- Katy's article about discovering her oldest son has autism Episode 102: Disappointments and Helping Boys Deal with Them -- all about Sam getting his 4-wheel license Savage Park - BuildingBoys blog post about a free-range playground in Japan 11 Tips for Surviving -- & Thriving -- With Boys in the House -- Parade article by Jen 4 Ways to Make Your House Movement-Friendly -- article by Jen
Apr 11, 2019
Vaping & E-Cigarette Use: What Parents Need to Know
Photo by John Mackie via Flickr Nearly 1 in 3 high school seniors tried vaping in the last year.  Middle schoolers are vaping too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, e-cigarette use among middle school students increased by 48% between 2017 and 2018. Now, nearly 5% of middle school students in the United States vape on a regular basis. Kids and teachers alike say that middle and high school students are vaping in the bathroom, in the halls and even in class. Vaping is so prevalent among tweens and teens that the U.S. Surgeon General declared youth vaping an epidemic in late 2018. The makers of e-cigarettes say that their products are intended to help adult smokers quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. Some have questioned the sincerity of that claim, noting that vape pens and juice come in shapes and flavors that appeal to children. The Juul, a common vape device, looks like a USB drive and is so popular among youth that the word "Juuling" is often used to mean "vaping." Juul e-cigarette and vape juice pods The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to release new rules designed to limit kids' access to vaping products. Among the rules under consideration: A ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes (except menthol and mint flavors) in stores that don't have areas prohibiting children under the age of 18 New age-verification standards for online stores selling e-cigarettes Increased enforcement of rules banning e-cigarette marketing toward minors Such rules may limit kids' access to e-cigarettes in the future, but right now, there are a whole lot of teens, tweens and families grappling with the issue of vaping. In this episode, we talk with Renee, a mom of twin teenage boys who vape. As she learned firsthand, it's not easy to help a son who's hooked on vaping. If your child vapes or smokes, visit teen.smokefree.gov for resources to help them quit including the quitSTART app and a text messaging program (Text “Quit” to 47848). In this episode,  Jen, Janet & Renee discuss: Signs and symptoms of vaping How to talk to your kids about vaping Why kids who would never dream of smoking a cigarette are comfortable with e-cigarettes How to help your kids resist peer pressure, including phrases you can teach your child to use when someone offers an e-cigarette A possible link between anxiety and vaping Health risks of vaping What it's like to help a teen quit vaping What to do if your son is vaping Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 155: Teens and Vaping: 9 Things Parents Need to Know -- article by Jen How to Talk with Your Kids About Vaping -- guide from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) -- basic intro by the National Institute on Drug Abuse A Harm Reduction Guide for Parents of Teens Who Vape -- great resource for parents whose teens are already vaping Additional Resources: Smokefree Teen teen.smokefree.gov Helpful resources, including Smokefree TXT: Quitting on your phone, on your terms Free mobile service, if you have an unlimited text plan, for teens (starting at age 13) Provides 24/7 encouragement, advice and tips No parent permission required Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids  800-803-7178 tobaccofreekids.org Advocate for public policies to help teens quit smoking and protect people from secondhand smoke Truth (a campaign developed by teens) thetruth.com Teen videos, apparel and games
Apr 04, 2019
Age 16, Teen Driving & Cars
Photo by Russ Allison Loar via Flickr Sweet 16. Here in the United States, age 16 has long been an eagerly anticipated milestone, largely because teens are eligible to get a driver's license at age 16. In the minds of many teens, age 16 = driver's license = increased independence. In the minds of many parents, age 16 = increased insurance costs and anxiety regarding their child's safety. In fact, fewer teens are getting drivers' licenses at age 16. According to an article published on Wired.com, just 71% of high school seniors have a driver's license; that's the lowest percentage in decades. Societal changes account for the decline: the prevalence of ride-sharing services such as Lyft & Uber means that many teens don't need to drive to get from one place to another, and social media now allows teens to socialize without leaving home. Economic challenges are a factor as well: 36% of non-driving teens cite "overall cost" as a contributing issue. Whether your teen gets a driver's license or not age 16 is a big deal. It's a step toward independence, and time to talk about responsible decision making. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: Learning to drive as a rite of passage The importance of following your son's lead (Some are ready to drive at age 16; some have no desire) How to tell if your son is ready to drive How to set limits and guidelines that fit your son Why parents may not be the best driving instructors for their children How to talk to kids about the risks & responsibilities of driving (Hint: sharing scary stats does not work.) How graduated driver's licenses help teens build experience The role of role-modeling (Don't want your teen to text & drive? Don't text and drive!) The cost of driving -- how parents & kids can share the expense Things to consider when purchasing/helping your son purchase a car Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 154: How to Intervene When Life Gives Your Grown Son a Lemon -- article mentioned by Jen at about 20:00 Parent-Teen Driving Contract -- template created by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control Street Survival driving school -- driving school mentioned by Janet at 10:02 Age 16 & Learning to Let Go - blog post about what happened after Jen's son got his license
Mar 28, 2019
Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World with Jordan Shapiro
Janet & Jen had very different reactions to The New Childhood: Raising Children to Thrive in a Connected World, by author and educator Jordan Shapiro. Jen loved it. Janet has some, uh, questions. And concerns. So, we decided to talk to the author. Jordan was happy to talk with us. He's an assistant professor at Temple University who specializes in game-based learning, digital play and screens. As a senior fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop,  he coordinates research and advocacy around digital technology and playful education. He's also a dad of two boys, ages 11 and 13, so his knowledge of screens and digital play is more than academic. Like all 21st century parents, he grapples with technology and parenting every single day. Our society, he says, is changing. The digital age is here, and interconnected technology is changing everything -- how we work, relate, socialize, play, learn and plan. The pace of change has been fast and furious, and as a result, a lot of adults are feeling overwhelmed and somewhat fearful. But fear of technological and societal shifts won't help us teach our children to use the tools of the digital age in intentional, ethical and moral ways. To effectively parent today's kids -- and prepare them for the future -- we must open our minds, get clear about our values and talk to our kids about their digital engagement. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Jordan discuss: How parents' fear of screens can disrupt the parent/child relationship & inhibit child development How our ideas of "healthy behaviors" are based on and influenced by when and where we live What's really going on when kids are staring at separate screens Parallel digital play How screens can lead to connection (vs. disconnection) How non-techy parents can guide kids through the digital age (hint: it's all about values) Screens in schools Reading on screens vs reading text -- pros and cons Digital note taking vs. hand-written notes -- what does the evidence say? Whether or not screens and apps are "manipulating" us How our children internalize our voices and values Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 153: https://www.jordanshapiro.org/ -- Jordan's website (includes links to his articles and videos of his talks) The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World -- Jordan's latest book 'The New Childhood' and How Games, Social Media are Good for Kids -- Variety article that brought Jordan's book to Jen's attention Screens and Boys -- On Boys episode 106 iGen - On Boys episode 137 Video Games & Boys (with special guest Greg Wondra) - On Boys episode 108 Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens by Lisa Guernsey & Michael H. Levine -- book mentioned by Jordan at about 21:30
Mar 21, 2019
Our First Anniversary!
Happy Anniversary....Happy Birthday .... Any way you slice it - we're thrilled to bring you this special edition of ON BOYS. After a year of conversations - that's well over 50+ hours of talking, laughing, lamenting, and inspiring each other - and hopefully, our listeners - Jen and Janet learn some new and surprising things about each other in this episode ... and daydream about the day when they will FINALLY meet in person! Thank you, dear listeners, for supporting ON BOYS this year -- and for being boy champions! Much love, Janet & Jen
Mar 14, 2019
Rosalind Wiseman on How to Talk with Boys
Rosalind Wiseman's work is based on the belief that young people's experiences are important, but often discounted. Adults, she says, frequently give young people advice without listening to them first. Boys often tune out adult's well-meaning messages because we fail to recognize that they are the subject matter experts of their own lives. However, if you respect their experiences and listen to their concerns, boys will work with you. Wiseman says that parents and teachers who want to communicate more effectively with boys should: Stop freaking out. Don't let anxiety drive your interactions with boys. Stop making assumptions about boys. Ask, don't lecture. In this episode, Wiseman answers some tough questions from parents, and drops wisdom that's sure to change your approach to (and relationship with) the boys in your life. In this episode,  Janet & Rosalind discuss: Why most social-emotional learning experiences alienate boys -- and why it's so important to consider boys' needs as we create programs to teach them character development, empathy & kindness How parents can more effectively listen to boys Why overwhelming boys with questions is exactly the wrong thing to do The importance of simply showing affection to your boys (vs. showering them with questions) How moms' intensity can cause boys to shut up or lash out The hypocrisy of adults (Boys aren't wrong when they call out adults as hypocritical and unfair!) The tightrope boys walk: On some level and in some instances, males have privilege and power that amplifies their voices. But in other cases, boys' voices aren't respected. Why there are no clear-cut answers to parenting dilemmas The importance of acknowledging the fact that adults sometimes make things worse How parents and teachers can partner with boys to help them solve tough problems Why it's so important to listen to and honor teen boys' fear of being falsely accused of sexual assault How to role-model apologies and healthy conflict resolution How to cope with boys' anger (Pro tip: Ask him what he needs, and let him walk away) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 151: CulturesofDignity.com - organization founded by Rosalind Wiseman. Works with communities to shift the way we think about young people's physical and emotional well-being Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, by Rosalind Wiseman Masterminds & Wingmen -- BuildingBoys' review of Wiseman's book Q & A w Rosalind Wiseman, Author of Masterminds & Wingmen -- 2013 BuildingBoys post Owning Up curriculum -- Wiseman-developed curriculum created in collaboration with children and teens. Designed to help kids deal with bullying, harassment, racism, gossip, media and self-image Creating Culture's of Dignity - Wiseman's speech discussing adult & child/teen perceptions of "respect"
Mar 07, 2019
150 Being a Stay-at-Home Dad
Meet Stay-at-Home Dad, Homeschooling Dad, and Mankind Project participant and advocate, Mark. Dad of Sam, age 8, husband of Corissa, living in Portland, Oregon, Mark retraces his journey as a boy who didn't feel listened to by his mom and dad, struggling with his identity as a stay-at-home dad, and his striving to be an emotionally available, strong role model for his family. Mark's story may feel familiar to many men. A dad who was distant and detached. A mom who seemed to ignore his attempts to share his deeper feelings. Mark was left wondering what was wrong with him and wishing for more connection to himself and his family. When Mark discovered The Mankind Project, he discovered a brotherhood of men who are committed to bringing The Mankind Project states, "We believe that emotionally mature, powerful, compassionate, and purpose-driven men will help heal some of our society’s deepest wounds. We support the powerful brilliance of men and we are willing to look at, and take full responsibility for, the pain we are also capable of creating – and suffering. We care deeply about men, our families, communities, and the planet." Mark's conversation with Janet is touching, inspiring, and thoughtful. Listen until the end to hear Mark's heart-warming conversation with his dad - one that he wished had happened years earlier. Article of interest, too: https://goodmenproject.com/parenting/the-stigma-surrounding-stay-at-home-fathers/
Feb 28, 2019
149: All About E-sports
Photo by Ye Fang Kuang via Flickr Competitive video gaming may be coming soon to a school near you. E-sports  (short for "electronic sports") is a $900 million dollar global industry. In South Korea, top video game players are household names, and matches are televised. Here in the United States, more than 80 colleges and universities, including Kent State and the University of California - Berkeley, now offer esports scholarships. High schools are getting in on the action too. In October 2018, the National Federation of State High School Associations -- the same organization that promotes interscholastic sports and performing arts activities -- launches its first-ever eSports season; six different states hosted their first-ever state video game championships in January 2019. In February, another season of high school esports kicks off, with three additional states joining in on the fun. To many parents and grandparents, the idea of video games as a sport sounds, well, ridiculous. But coaches and players say that esports have a lot more in common with football, basketball and soccer than you may think. The real benefit of school sports, most people know, is that they teach teamwork, discipline and camaraderie. Few high school football players will go on to play football after high school, but the lessons learned on the field linger. So do the relationships players develop with their coaches and teammates. The same holds true for competitive video gamers. Like other athletes, they must learn how to communicate effectively and how to best use the strengths of each person on the team. They must learn how to control their emotions and assess and respond to an ever-changing environment. They gain a sense of pride and connection. In fact, there a lot of good reasons to say yes to esports: Kids thrive when they connect with other kids who share their passions Esports teams are under the supervision of a coach during practices and meets (rather than spending dozens of unsupervised hours playing video games) Esports fall under school athletic policies, so competitors must meet academic eligibility requirements and adhere to behavioral standards Anyone can compete in eSports. Size and strength aren't a plus or a minus, and mixed gender teams are common. (Check out this awesome Microsoft commercial, which illustrates how adaptive controllers break down barriers by allowing kids of all abilities to play together.) Most schools already have the equipment necessary to participate in eSports There's almost no travel involved (especially when compared to other sports!) In this episode,  Janet & Jen discuss: What esports are How -- and why -- esports can benefit video game-loving boys, especially non-athletic boys who don't feel connected to school What parents & teachers need to know about esports & competitive video gaming The similarities between esports & traditional sports What kids can learn from esports Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 149: Video Games are the New Competitive Sport in Schools -- Jen's article about esports Griffin's Chovy on His Ridiculous KDA of 104 & The Strength of His Team -- ESPN article (yes, an ESPN article!) about a competitive League of Legends player Which Schools Offer eSports Scholarships How to Start a High School Esports League & Benefit Your Got a competitive gamer in your life? Leave us a message! We'd love to interview him on in upcoming episode.
Feb 21, 2019
148: 14 Ways to Love Your Boys
Love really is what makes the world go around.  At least, it's what makes the world a better place! Photo by photosavvy via Flickr On Valentine's Day, our thoughts typically turn to romantic love (thanks to a hefty assist by Hallmark, restaurants and jewelry companies.) In this special Valentine's Day episode, we're focusing on another kind of love: The love between parents and children, between grandparents and grandchildren, between teachers and the kids they teach. We're talking about transformative love -- the kind of love that tells a kid he's all right, and that the world needs him. We all love our children, but do our kids feel that love in their lives in a very real way? Many moms of boys struggle with how to best connect with their male children, especially when their boys seem more interested in playing video games online with their friends than having a heart-to-heart talk. So, we asked boys: How can the adults in your lives show you their love? Their answers may surprise you -- and give you some ideas you can use to build your relationship with the boys in your life. In this episode,  Janet & Jen: Why investing time in having fun with your boys is SO worthwhile! The importance of engaging with boys on their level, of accepting them as they are right this moment The important of physical affection, even for tween & teen boys Why you might want to be careful about packing "love notes" in your son's lunch box Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 148: How to Tell Your Son "I Love You" -- BuildingBoys post that inspired this episode Hug Your Boys -- classic BuildingBoys post Where the Red Fern Grows -- YA book mentioned by Janet at about 16:00 (and yes, she sent Jen a copy immediately after recording this episode!) McElligot's Pool -- classic Dr. Seuss book mentioned at about 19:00 Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons — Maggie Dent's latest book (Don't know who Maggie Dent is? Pop over & listen to our conversation with her!) Episode 120: Hygiene Help for Tween and Teen Boys The 5 Love Languages of Children -- book by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers -- book by Gary Chapman
Feb 14, 2019
147 Raising Boys with Amy Joyce of The Washington Post
Over the last year or so, as story after story of men's misconduct hit the headlines, one question rang out in the hearts, minds and souls of parents: How do we raise boys to become good men?  Boys, we know, are not born evil or prejudiced. We've seen their sweetness. We tousle their hair and tuck them in bed. We step over plastic dinosaurs and sit on the sidelines in all kinds of weather because we care about our boys. Because we love them. Because we want them to share their gifts and talents with the world. None of us wants to raise a sexual abuser, serial predator or school shooter. But none of us are quite sure how to insure against those awful possibilities. We don't know the exact recipe for a good man. Sure, we have some ideas, but in real time, most of us are just doing the best we can, minute to minute. Raising boys in a culture that's rapidly changing brings some real challenges, and those of us born before the turn of the century aren't sure how to parent the digital natives who share our homes. Washington Post writer and editor Amy Joyce is intimately familiar with the challenges of raising boys; she has two sons, ages 9 and 11. In 2018, motivated in part by national discussions about masculinity and how to raise good men, she and a team of journalists talked to boys, parents and experts about what it's like to be a boy today. The resulting three articles, published in late 2018, captured the essence of American boys at this critical juncture in time. The articles focus on boys at three discrete stages: Age 8, Age 11 and Age 17. Jen calls this series "the most real and compassionate portrayal of boys and their families in the media in a long time." We talked to Amy about this ground-breaking series and her experience raising boys. Amy Joyce, Washington Post On Parenting editor, top L. Janet, upper R; Jen bottom. In this episode,  Janet, Jen, & Amy discuss: Why the Washington Post produced this series, and how they found the boys and families they featured Possible plans for a follow up series Real-life challenges of boys and their parents Generational changes and challenges The "how do I not raise a jerk?" question How our stereotypical beliefs about boys can limit our boys, our parenting and our teaching Implicit biases against boys How working on this series changed Amy's approach to parenting her sons Male friendships during the tween and teen years Changing expectations for boys and men The public response to the WaPo series Why listening to -- and not underestimating -- boys is key to raising great men Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 145: Being a Boy: Age 8 -- Washington Post article Being a Boy: Ages 11 & 12 -- Washington Post article Being a Boy: Age 17 -- Washington Post article
Feb 07, 2019
146 What You Need to Know about Boys & Suicide (w Katey McPherson)
Young men are 4X more likely to die of suicide than young women The suicide rate for boys ages 15 to 19 grew by 30 percent from 2007 to 2015 Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24 No one wants to think or talk about suicide, but as people who care deeply about the well-being of boys, we'd be remiss to stay silent. This episode is a tough, but vitally important, one. Trigger warning: This episode includes frank conversations about suicide and includes non-graphic descriptions of the circumstances surrounding some suicides Katey McPherson Our guest, Katey McPherson, is a boy advocate, educator and consultant who turned her attention to suicide prevention after a slew of teenage boys in Arizona committed suicide. "Just in my 20 mile radius, we've lost 32 boys in 20 months," says McPherson. Most, she said, had experienced a "significant life crisis" in the weeks previous such as a breakup, academic or athletic failure or altercation with the law.  To many adults, these incidents may seem relatively minor. But in the life of tween or teen, these are major events. "The reality is, some of these children have never failed. And so when they have a failure, it is epic," McPherson explains. Social networking can further amplify kids' feeling of failure, as news of kids' achievements and failures quickly spread. Unfortunately, adults sometimes unwittingly make things worse by taking away their child's phone or keeping their child apart from friends. Teens rely on one another for social support, and use their phones to connect. Without their phones and friends, they feel alone and isolated. Trapped in their thoughts, it's all too easy to move from depression to suicidal ideation to suicide. Teenage boys' brains are immature. They don't process the world the same way we do. They're impulsive. We have to remember those facts when interacting with our teen boys. We have to listen, learn and love. Above all, pay attention to your gut instincts. "If your mom or dad radar is going off, there's something wrong," McPherson says. "Don't dismiss your mom or dad radar. That's where we go wrong."  Don't dismiss your concerns; act instead. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, there are resources for you by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Katey discuss: Parenting strategies that can decrease the risk of suicide and build resiliency The importance of discussing socio-emotional wellness Why it's CRUCIAL to discuss suicide, depression and mental health with your boys Why asking about suicide WILL NOT trigger suicide -- but may save a life How to tell the difference between teenage angst & depression Red flags, including disrupted sleep patterns and changes in behavior, hygiene, nonverbal communication and device usage Why you should be on alert after breakups, academic and athletic failures How a growth mindset can build coping skills and resilience How kids signal their despair on social media The importance of family media rules and a central charging station How to help your kids recognize -- and respond to -- friends' cries for help The importance of the village -- why parents must work together to keep kids safe What to do if your son is suicidal (Go immediately to a hospital with an adolescent behavioral center, or call 911) Comments shared with us after podcast went live: "Janet and Jennifer - I listen to your podcast every week in the car on the way to or from work and I am a big fan. Last Thursday, I called in sick to work, so didn't get to listen to this incredible episode. Hours later, my own teen boy was moving from ideation toward taking his own life, and we were alerted thanks to a friend who preferred to reach out for help for him rather than to "keep his trust" as a confidant.
Jan 31, 2019
145 Masculinity Goes Viral: The APA Guidelines, Gillette Ad & Boys of Covington High School
By now, you've probably seen this picture... ...and heard about Gillette's new ad, The Best Men Can Be Maybe you've even heard about the American Psychological Association's Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, which some applaud and some condemn. (Two recent headlines: "Toxic Masculinity is Under Attack. And That's Fine," from a left-leaning website, and "The American Psychological Association Has Made Choosing a Therapist Easy," from a right-leaning site.) Discussion of these videos, pictures and guidelines have dominated social media recently -- for better and for worse. For better: People are publicly discussing masculinity and the expectations placed on boys and men. For worse: Many people are jumping to conclusions without looking at the actual source material. In many corners, "discussion" has devolved into shouting. In this episode, Jen & Janet dive in & discuss: The APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men The Gillette ad, The Best Men Can Be The encounter between the boys of Covington High School, tribal elder Nathan Phillips and the Black Hebrew Israelites Note: On 1/21/19, Twitter suspended an account which spread the initial 1-minute video of the encounter in DC after realizing that the account was likely part of a network of anonymous accounts that were working to amplify the video. Soon after that initial, short video sparked outrage, a longer, nearly 2-hour video of the encounter was posted on YouTube to an account called "John Duncan." As of 1/23/19, no one seems to know who recorded or posted the video. One journalist Jen spoke with said, "We all have serious questions about the origins of the vids and related content and the fact that finding a human attached to any of it proves elusive." Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 145: APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men We Believe: The Best Men Can Be -- the Gillette ad Gillette Responds to Controversial Advert Challenging Toxic Masculinity -- Forbes.com article MAGA Losers Bothering a Native American -- short 1 minute video that ignited controversy Full video of what transpired regarding Catholic High students -- "John Duncan" video Episode 143: How Confidence & Joy Spark Success Episode 105: Masculinity in the Age of #MeToo Let's Stop Assuming the Worst About Boys -- Jen's U.S. News & World Report article    After listening, a Texas mom commented, "Thank you for addressing this issue straight on, Janet and Jen. You have a unique position in today’s world."
Jan 24, 2019
144: You Asked about Age 14, Implicit Bias and Sensitive Boys (Listener Q & A)
Photo by duncan c via Flickr Our listeners ask the big, important questions! When we put out our most recent call for listener questions, we got some heart-felt, thought-provoking, difficult-to-answer questions. Allison asked how to effectively love and support a young teen: We have a 14 year old boy, and I'm on shifting sands. I'm trying to find balance supporting and loving him while holding boundaries for battles that feel worthy of fighting. I know you all have talked young teens before, but this is all new for me, and I'm really struggling to find my new normal now that he's growing into a young man. We are strongly attached and have lots of love, so I'm grateful we get to start from there, but he can be combative and moody and I'm often taken aback by what new terrain this is. Margaret wants to know more about sensitive boys. She wrote: How about some conversation about the highly sensitive tween and tween boy? How to protect and honor and care for that gift and sensitivity, and integrate, be resilient and grow into their full masculine self in a way that honors and keeps the sensitive piece safe and ideally shares and appreciates it in helpful, meaningful, contributing ways? Linda asks about implicit bias: How do you help boys dealing with implicit bias, such as lower expectations from the teacher, benefit of doubt going to girls in conflict, etc.   In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Normal behavior for a 14 yr old boy Parenting teens as a marathon (on shifting sands) How learning & talking about the brain changes of adolescence can help parents & boys Why deliberate boundaries can decrease conflict between parents & children (and co-parents!) Shifting definitions of masculinity, and how to help your boy navigate them How to help your boy find his tribe Implicit bias against boys in schools - & how to keep it from damaging your son's self-esteem Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 144: Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis American Psychological Association Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men Episode 103: Sports and Boys Who Don't Like Them Episode 131: Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers Love this Listener Q & A? Plan to join us for an Open Mic! Upcoming Open Mic dates & times: January 31st – EVENING (6 pm pacific/ 9 pm eastern) March 9th – WEEKEND (11 am pacific/ 2 pm eastern) May 14th – DAYTIME (9 am pacific/ 1 pm eastern) Click here to learn more & register
Jan 17, 2019
143 How Confidence & Joy Spark Success
"Confidence and joy are to the development of a child as oxygen is to life."   -- from Confidence & Joy: Success Strategies for Kids with Learning Differences If your son struggles -- academically, socially, or emotionally -- you know how quickly simple struggles can dissolve into despair. A child who feels unsuccessful at school or in social settings tends to withdraw and give up; after all, what's the point of trying when more effort doesn't lead to more success? Repeated failure breeds apathy -- and given how many boys struggle in school, it's no wonder we're facing an epidemic of unmotivated teenage boys. It doesn't have to be this way. In their 2018 book Confidence & Joy: Success Strategies for Kids with Learning Difference: A Step-by-Step Guidebook for Parents & Professionals, Dr. Deborah Ross-Swain and Elaine Fogel Schneider outline the toll learning differences take on kids' (and families') spirits, emotional health and overall well-being. Most importantly, they point the way toward change. Parents and educators, they say, can make a massive, positive difference in a child's life by finding and encouraging their strengths. Building confidence and joy in a child will give the child the will and fortitude necessary to thrive in the world Deb and Elaine are veteran speech-language pathologists; between them, they have more than 70 years combined experience working with children and families. Join Jen, Janet, Deb & Elaine for a lively conversation about the importance of confidence & joy, and how we can work together to spark change. Top L - Elaine Fogel Schneider; Top R - Janet Allison; Bottom L - Deborah Ross-Swain; Bottom R - Jennifer Fink In this episode,  Janet, Jen, Elaine & Deb discuss: "Red flags" parents & educators should watch for The importance of early intervention How to get help for a child who doesn't qualify for special education services How to build advocacy skills, so you can get your child the help he needs The importance of self-care How to build a support team How -- and why -- it's so important to offset negative feelings and angst Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 143: Confidence & Joy: Success Strategies for Kids with Learning Difference: A Step-by-Step Guidebook for Parents & Professionals, by Dr. Deborah Ross-Swain and Elaine Fogel Schneider 7 Strategies for Raising Calm, Successful, Inspired Children, by Elaine Fogel Schneider How to Deal with an Unmotivated Boy -- BuildingBoys blog post by Jen The Swain Center - Dr. Swain's clinical practice. Ask Dr. Elaine -- Dr. Fogel-Schneider's website. (She's also a leading authority on touch & infant massage!)
Jan 10, 2019
142: Resolutions for People Who Care About Boys
The word resolution means "a firm decision to do or not to do something." It also means "the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter." As we head into 2019, let's consider both definitions of the word. Let's make some firm decisions to improve our relationships with our boys. Let's take steps to address and solve the contentious matters facing us. And let's work together to create a climate that encourages and supports boys and their families and teachers. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of Janet & Jen's Resolutions for People Who Care About Boys: 1. Read a book about boys Our recommendations include The Minds of Boys:Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life, by Michael Gurian; Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, by Rosalind Wiseman; and Boy Talk: How You Can Help Your Son Express His Emotions, by Mary Polce-Lynch. 2. Investigate your school's discipline and recess policies. Compared to girls, boys are far more likely to be disciplined, suspended and expelled. They're also more likely to lose recess time (in many schools, keeping a child inside for recess is still an acceptable, oft-used disciplinary tactic). Unfortunately, harsh discipline and recess policies rarely lead boys to greater academic success and engagement. To the contrary: harsh discipline and lack of recess time is correlated with decreased engagement in school. If you have time, recess advocacy is a great way to help boys (and girls!). 3. Add activity Most boys -- most people! -- would do better with more movement in their lives. So, think about how you can add activity to your family life. 4. Say 'yes' as often as possible In our zeal to keep our boys safe, we often say no to activities that we consider "risky" or "stupid." This year, stop and think; don't let "no" be your reflexive answer. Whenever possible, say "yes" to your boys. You can mitigate risk without crushing your boys' hopes, dreams and ambitions. 5. Focus on what's right In her book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, Jen Sincero writes, "What you focus on, you create more of, and if you keep expecting people to annoy you, they will not let you down." This year, make it a point to see, acknowledge and remember all of the things your boys are doing right -- and all of the good you're doing as well. 6. Share what you know about boys with other people. The world is in the midst of a current and ongoing conversation about how to raise boys. Increasingly, we're realizing that the way we treat our boys today influences the way they treat others when they become men. Collectively, there seems to be a strong desire to do better. As someone who cares about boys, you already know a lot about what boys think, feel and need. Share your knowledge with others, and discuss the things you're learning with them. Together, we can build a better world for boys. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 142: New Year's Resolutions for People Who Care About Boys - BuildingBoys post On Boys OPEN MIC -- Your chance to ask us anything. Come to discuss your problems with other people who care about boys. Why Boys NEED Recess and How to Become a Recess Advocate - class BuildingBoys post Peaceful Playgrounds -- click here for the link to their free Right to Recess campaign toolbox Episode 131: Emails and Phone Calls from Teachers Why January is the Perfect Time for a Mid-Year School Check-In - BuildingBoys post Why You Need to Stop Focusing on Your Boys' Bickering - BuildingBoys post inspired by the quote in resolution #5
Jan 03, 2019
141: Best of 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect back on our first year.  This podcast launched on March 12, 2018. Since then, we've recorded 40+ episodes, on everything from tween boy hygiene to how to talk to boys about sex, consent and masculinity in the #MeToo era. We hosted 11 guests, including Warren Farrell (author of The Boy Crisis), Maggie Dent (Australia's "Boy Champion") and Jen's 12 year old son, Sam Fink. We tried hard to bring you information and inspiration, and look forward to tackling all kinds of topics in 2019. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss the 5 most popular episodes of 2018: Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis This book is taking America by storm, and she is changing the way we are parenting. Episode 101: Homework and Boys As parents, we feel we have to conform to the school and the teacher, but that means we're battling with our sons every night because they don't want to do another ridiculous math sheet. Episode 125: Anxiety and Depression in Boys Anxiety and depression can show up so differently in boys and men than it does in girls and women. Episode 121: Sibling Stress: How to Handle Bickering, Fighting & More Part of what we did in this episode was talk about what's normal, and when bickering and fighting cross the line into a very harmful pattern of behavior. Episode 104: Anger & Boys Developmentally, there are really good reasons why your boys are quick to anger. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 141: 5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting -- Janet's course to help parents Down with Homework, Say U.S. School Districts - Wall Street Journal article We Spent a Year Reporting on Teen Anxiety. Here's What We Learned - and Why You're Part of the Solution -- Deseret News article. Includes links to many other articles about anxiety. Minivan Musings: How Parents Should Handle Their Angry Tween, Teen -- article referenced by Jen during the discussion of Anger & Boys Learning Lab: Boys and Anger -- 90-minute online workshop led by Janet Learning Lab: Homework -- 90-minute online workshop led by Janet
Dec 27, 2018
140 Maggie Dent on Mothering Our Boys (Part 2)
Photo by cotaro70s via Flickr   Want your boys to develop gentleness and empathy? Get a guinea pig. So says Maggie Dent, Australia's BOY CHAMPION, mother of four grown boys and author of Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons.  If you haven't yet heard Part 1 of our conversation, toggle over and listen to that episode first. Then dig into Part 2. Some highlights: "It's really annoying that we still speak more harshly to little boys." "'Boys will be boys' is not acceptable without boundaries. However, you can't punish a little boy for something he did unintentionally." "The #1 biological calling for males, still, is to be the defender and protector." "Natural consequences are the best teacher. Sometimes, we have to celebrate the owies and ouchies and not see them as a sign of bad parenting." In this episode, Maggie, Janet & Jen discuss: How to help elementary school boys handle their frustration when they get in trouble at school Boys' inclination toward protecting others How to support boys' interest in superhero boy & play fighting How to deconstruct the "man code" and help boys' live authentically How to talk so boys will listen The importance of social-emotional development and learning Boys' friendships -- & how moms can help their sons develop important relationship skills "Rooster" boys & "lamb" boys, & what they need from their parents & teachers How (& why) natural consequences help boys learn Why stepping back -- and allowing your son to make his own choices -- may be the best gift you can give your son   Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 140: Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons — Maggie’s latest book "This is the book I'm on the earth to write." -- Maggie Dent maggiedent.com — Maggie’s website. Jam-packed with resources! Let Grow --  The new website of Lenore Skenazy, of Free-Range Kids fame Dear mums of smelly, unmotivated, lazy, moody and confused 14 year old boys -- one of Maggie's best blog posts Maggie Dent on YouTube -- Pro Tip: These short videos are great to share with dads! Episode 129: Grief with Tom Golden
Dec 20, 2018
139: Maggie Dent on Mothering Our Boys (Part 1)
Maggie Dent   Please meet the marvelous Maggie Dent! Known in Australia as "the queen of common sense," Maggie is a teacher, counselor and dedicated BOY CHAMPION. She's a popular speaker, parenting educator and the author of 11 books, including the recently-released Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons.  She's also a whole lotta fun! (Maggie's "Bear Pit" story is not-to-be-missed!) You'll laugh -- learn a lot about what boys really need from their parents. Some wisdom from Maggie: Moms, be careful not to shatter your boys' dreams or fantastic plans with your words. It is helpful to explore why there is often a mismatch between what a mom thinks has happened, and what a boy thinks has happened. That whole perception that there is an inevitability to boys' behavior being bad is just the biggest fallacy out there that we must pull apart. This special episode is the first-ever gathering of Maggie, Jen & Janet, but it definitely won't be the last. In this episode, Maggie, Janet & Jen discuss: Why boys are struggling in the Western world How the male code stifles boys Why shaming is so harmful to boys Societal changes within the past 30 years that have made life tougher for boys & their families (including increased academic expectations & the demise of free play) The importance of PLAY Male loneliness (and how to help boys build connections) How moms can nurture their boys The link between movement and learning How negative stereotypes about boys & boy behavior affect how people view -- and treat -- boys What to do when boys muck up Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 139: maggiedent.com -- Maggie's website. Jam-packed with resources! Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons -- Maggie's latest book Stuart Brown: Play is More Than Fun - TED talk We hope you also enjoy Part 2 of our conversation with Maggie Dent! Don't miss it!
Dec 13, 2018
138 Holiday Gifts & Guilt
Photo by Sotiris Marionpulous via Flickr (Talk with Janet & Jen LIVE on 'OPEN MIC' - click here for date & ticket information.) 'Tis the season for gift-giving, overspending & guilt. In today's consumer culture, there's intense pressure to show love and care for your family via material things. We give you permission to recognize that pressure and set it aside, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or something else. An abundance of gifts to open can actually be overwhelming for a child. (Never mind the parent who's stressed about paying off the credit card bill, and who will likely spend the next 12 months reminding the child to pick up the *&%* toys!) So this year, we encourage you to stop and think. Don't buy gifts reflexively, or because that's "what's expected" this time of year. Instead, think about the true essence of your holiday celebration. Think about your family values, and what you really want to teach your family. Think about your time, budget and energy levels, and then plan a holiday that's grounded in reality. The average American child already has 70-100 toys -- and toys are a leading cause of sibling fights and disagreements. If your holiday celebration will include gift giving, think out-of-the-box. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: How to introduce a less-is-more approach to gift-giving Strategies to minimize gift fatigue Why babies and toddlers don't need holiday gifts How too many toys fuel sibling fights, and a lack of focus Why you should steer clear of "one-trick" toys Cheap, creative gifts of boys of all ages, including a do-it-yourself marble run, "creation kits," and experience presents, such as museum memberships or tickets to a show Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 138: 12 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Boys -- Parade article by Jen Doodle - subscription craft and science gift crates Scrap PDX -- the creative reuse store Janet mentions at 10:25, where people can donate and buy arts & crafts supplies
Dec 06, 2018
137: iGen
Photo by Janet Allison   Baby Boomers. Gen X. Millennials. And now, iGen. According to psychology professor Jean Twenge, the members of iGen include the children and young adults born between 1995 and 2012. And what sets these kids apart from previous generations, she says, is their near-constant connection to the Internet. Theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and concomitant rise of social media...members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. Compared to previous generations, Twenge says, members of iGen are: Less independent Less eager to drive Less likely to socialize in person Less likely to work Less likely to get seven hours of sleep per night More likely to report anxiety and depression That list is enough to give any parent or teacher palpitations! But is it a fair depiction of today's youth? Are "kids today" really that different from their parents and grandparents -- and that unprepared for adult life? And if so, are smartphones really the culprit? And if so, what do we do about it? If you're parenting or teaching iGen, you're gonna want to listen to this episode! In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Intra-generational gaps within iGen The 10 important trends shaping iGen How constant connectivity can increase anxiety The "Wait 'til 8th" movement How parents can give their kids a break from tech Why technology might not be to blame for all of these problems The power of board games and playing cards How to encourage free play and tactile exploration in the digital age Why we should expect the best Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 137: iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy -- and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood -- and What That Means for the Rest of Us -- Twenge's latest book Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? - Atlantic article by Jean Twenge, adapted from iGen What the Times Got Wrong About Kids and Phones -- Columbia Journalism Review article Episode 106: Screens & Boys The Big Myth of Teenage Anxiety: Relax - The Digital Age is Not Wrecking Your Kid's Brain -- NYT article by psychiatrist Richard A. Friedman Is Screen Time Really All That Bad? – Building Boys post by Jen
Nov 29, 2018
136: Thankful for Boys!
Photo by Cindi Albright via Flickr   We talk a lot about what's hard about parenting. About all of the important things you need to and should do with your boys. This Thanksgiving, we talk about why we're thankful for boys.  Let us count the ways: They expand our worldview and experience. The boys in our lives introduce us to hobbies, interests and events we didn't even know existed! (Did you know that that there's a Green Industry & Equipment Expo? Jen didn't -- until her 12-year-old entrepreneur asked if they can go.) Their "ginormous" hearts. As one Mom told Janet, "My boys will always tell me they love me." Boys may express their love differently than girls, but they have huge hearts and give so much love. The privilege of shaping future men. Boys Alive member Luis told us he's grateful for the privilege of shaping "future honorable men." We are too. And we're so grateful for all the dads, grandpas, uncles and others who are also helping us build great men. They inspire us be better people. Joseph, another Boys Alive member,  says he's thankful for his son's "admiration for me -- which is motivation for me to be what he should look up to." They show us how to relax & have fun. Building Boys member Laura says, "I love that my little boys have taught me to loosen up and have fun wrestling and just being silly. I love that they're so comfortable dressing up to play 'Let's Pretend.' I love that they itch to get outside and run around and play all day...They are teaching me patience, courage and that fine balance between keeping them safe and letting them take those important risks." (If that doesn't sum up the experience of raising boys, I don't know what does!) They stretch our comfort zone. When we see our boys doing something out of our comfort zone -- or when we're called upon to do something beyond our comfort zone -- it's easy to panic and say no. But often, our love for our boys inspires us to wait, to watch, and to say yes. We see our boys (or ourselves) accomplish something we'd previously thought "too hard" or "too risky," and gain confidence. We realize that we're more capable than we ever thought. They help us better understand half the world. We've learned so much about men by watching, listening to and learning from our boys! As Carma, a BuildingBoys member, told us, "I learned to see life from a male perspective and was shocked to learn there are stereotypes and expectations on males too." Males and females approach the world differently, and that's OK. They increase our tolerance. Boys have taught us to enjoy and appreciate mess, chaos and physical energy. They teach us that fighting is OK. As women, we often get the message the fighting is "bad." Parenting and teaching boys has shown us that it's OK -- and even healthy -- to disagree and stand your ground. People can fight, and still be friends. They challenge our beliefs. Before boys, Jen was sure she'd have a "no gun" household. Four boys later, her house contains a virtual arsenal of Nerf weapons and Airsoft guns, and she's learned that there's no evidence to link "violent" play with real-life violence. Tell us: Why are you thankful for your boys? We'd love to hear your thoughts! There are a few slight audio glitches in this episode. We apologize for any inconvenience. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 136: 7 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Boys
Nov 22, 2018
135: Tween Boys
Photo by Whitney H via Flickr Some call the tween years a "second toddlerhood." Like toddlers, tweens are striving for independence and determined to do things on their own. Except when they'd rather not. Some days, they want nothing more than to be little kids again, cuddled in your lap. The mood swings of tween boys catch many parents off guard, especially parents who mistakenly bought into the idea that "boys are easier." Truth is, the tween years are a challenge: for you, and for your kids. That's because a lot of physical, neurological and emotional growth happens between the ages of 10 and 14. Your boys are changing -- so quickly, in fact, that it is literally difficult to keep up. Whether this is your first or third (or seventh!) time through the tween years, you likely need support, information and humor.  We're here to give it to you. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Common reactions to the tween years Why your kids need reassurance during their tweens How the physical changes of tween-dom lead to common behavioral changes (Hint: increased testosterone leads to increased body odor and increased risk-taking) The 10-year gap between experience emotions, and learning to control them Why the tween years can be emotionally triggering for parents The importance of self-care during the tween years "Potted plant" parenting  -- and why it may be the best way to parent tweens and teens Sam's 24 Hour Garage Challenge The value of playfulness (for tweens and their parents!) Mental health concerns in the tween years (the peak onset age for most mental health disorders is 14) Why you must make sure your son is connected with adult males Jen's 3 Tips for Surviving the Tween Years Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 135: Top 6 Tips for Parenting Tween Boys 120: Hygiene Help for Tween & Teen Boys Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, by Daniel J Siegel, MD What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents -- NYT article by Lisa Damour 123: The Good News about Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis 110: Talk to Boys about Sex with Amy Lang 128: 21st Century Sex Ed with Jo Langford Author Ann Douglas on How to Health Boys with Mental Health Challenges -- Q & A with the author of Parenting Through the Storm: Find Help, Hope and Strength When Your Child Has Psychological Problems 132: Risk-Taking Boys with Mom Judi Ketteler Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina.  Also:  Attack of the Teenage Brain
Nov 15, 2018
134: Rites of Passage
Photo by Linda Severson via Flickr   Traditional societies had many (often elaborate) rites of passage for boys and girls. On the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, boys become men after diving off rickety 40 foot platforms -- toward the ground. (You may have seen or heard about this tradition on National Geographic.) In the Sioux culture, young boys were raised predominantly by their mothers; as they became men, their fathers took over their training. And in some traditional African tribes, a boy's passage to manhood is marked by time alone in nature and circumcision. Here in the United States (and in most developed countries), there aren't really any well-recognized rites of passage to adulthood. Sure, many Jewish boys still have a Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and many Christians become full adult members in their churches after undergoing Confirmation, but neither ritual is well-recognized in the larger world as a marker of adulthood. Instead, the line between childhood, adolescence and adulthood remains blurry. According to The Art of Manliness, "At the heart of the modern crisis of manhood is the extension of adolescence, a boyhood which is stretching on for a longer and longer period of time. Once thought to end in a man’s 20s at the latest, men are extending their adolescence into their 30’s and in some especially sad cases, their 40’s. But in some ways it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of a culture in which rites of passage have all but disappeared, leaving men adrift and lost, never sure when and if they’ve become men. Today’s men lack a community of males to initiate them into manhood and to recognize their new status. Across time and place, cultures have inherently understood that without clear markers on the journey to manhood, males have a difficult time making the transition and can drift along indefinitely." In this episode, Janet discusses: Why men -- not women -- must lead rites of passage for boys How rites of passage affirm the value (and role) of men in society Common components of traditional rites of passage The risks (& harms) that can occur when boys initiate themselves into manhood Barriers to rites of passage in the modern world (a culture of individualism, mistrust of religion and 'strangers') How (& why) to create your own rites of passage Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 134: Inner Guide Expeditions
Nov 08, 2018
133: Re-Run – The Good News About Bad Behavior
Enjoy this episode from our archives - it's too good to miss! AND if you're intrigued by what you hear, consider joining co-host Janet Allison for her upcoming online class: "5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting."  All the deets are here:  http://boysalive.com/untangle   If your kids always do what they're told, consistently treat others with kindness and never over-react to unintended slights, you can skip this episode. If not -- WELCOME! Your child is 100% normal, and you're going to love this conversation with Jen, Janet and Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of The Good News About Bad Behavior. In her book, Lewis writes: If you look around and see misbehaving, undisciplined children everywhere, it's not just imagination. Children today are fundamentally different from past generations. They truly have less self-control. Simply put, we face a crisis of self-regulation. Lewis's observations of her own children, and comments from other parents, led her on a six-year exploration of behavior, parenting and neurobiology -- and points the way toward parenting techniques we can begin adapting right now to improve our children's behavior. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Katherine discuss: The dramatic increase in mental health problems in today's youth What self-regulation is, why it's important, and how to develop it in our kids How to shift your mindset from "How do I control my children?" to "How do I teach them to control themselves?" Progress, not perfection How to shift from a reactive model of parenting to thoughtful, deliberate parenting The "mumble and walk away technique" (Trust us: this can change your parenting for the better!) 3 common characteristics of research-backed models of discipline: connection, communication & capability How to use physical touch to help your child self-regulate Why kids need to do hard stuff -- & the link between failure & self-esteem The relationship between risk & capability ("Early risky experiences seem to inoculate kids from later phobias & anxiety," Lewis says. She also says, "Kids should do something a little bit risky every day.") Why you should watch out for the word "should" How to find support as you practice a new model of parenting Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 123: katherinereynoldslewis.com -- Katherine's author website. Contains a lot of info about her book and a complete list of her speaking gigs. Teaching Consent to a 12-Year-Old Boy -- the backstory behind the "bathroom email" referenced at about 7:16 Why Boys Do What They Do -- blog post about Jen's son pulling himself around the bases (referenced at 8:00) Episode 111: Self-Esteem & Boys Episode 116: Why Risk is Important for Boys BuildingBoys private FB group -- Jen's online parenting community. We welcome parents of boys of all ages, but seem to specialize in helping each other navigate the tween and teen years. A consistently supportive community, filled with tenderness, honesty and compassion. Boys Alive! Supporting Parents and Teachers of Boys at Home and in School FB group -- Janet's online community. This supportive community stands ready to answer your questions, share their hard-won wisdom, and commiserate and send virtual hugs when needed. Janet invites you to explore these - and other - parenting concepts in her 6 week class: The 5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting.  Click here for more details and registration.
Nov 01, 2018
132: Risk-Taking Boys with Mom Judi Ketteler
Would you let your 10-year-old son hang out with a bunch of teenagers you haven’t met? Would you let him attempt a double or triple flip in the trampoline in the backyard – or manage his own Instagram account? Writer and mom Judi Ketteler has. In a society that spends so much time telling boys to sit down and shut up, Judi has found a way to facilitate her son’s interests and personal growth, even though her son’s preferred sport, Gtramp, is risky and unregulated.  She’s found ways to say yes, rather than no, and her son is thriving as a result. If you’re not familiar with Gtramp, your son might be. Backyard “flippers” are extremely popular on YouTube and Instagram, particularly among tween boys. They’ve created a whole subculture, which Judi documented for the New York Times and explores with her son Maxx. Judi Ketteler w her husband, son Maxx & daughter Georgia Judi describes the experience of watching her son try new tricks on the trampoline as a “balance of absolute terror with absolute awe” – which, when you think about it, is also a pretty good description of parenting. In this episode, Jen & Judi discuss: Balancing safety concerns against the risk of inhibiting our boys’ motivation Making space for your kids to pursue their passions The sport of GTramp How kids can use YouTube to teach themselves the things they want to learn Learning to trust your son’s judgement The power of peer influence Helping tweens navigate social media “Digital training wheels” How self-directed learning helps kids find community Dealing with judgmental parents Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 132: Kaboom! Cody! Rudi! Young Flippers Embrace Gtramp, a New Sport for the Instagram Set -- Judi's NYT article about Gramp When is a Child Instagram-Ready?  -- Judi's NYT article about helping her son join Instagram @maxx_flippz -- Maxx on Instagram Maxx on his bike judiketteler.com -- Judi's website
Oct 25, 2018
131: Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers
Photo by Pascal Maramis via Flickr How do you respond to phone calls and emails from teachers about your son's misbehavior? Excerpts of actual emails I've received from my son's teachers: On Tuesday, Sam was sitting in a chair with his legs on a stool, he was flipping it and turning the stool with his legs and feet. I made eye contact with him and shook my head. He smiled and then slithered around on the floor... ... Subject line: Bathroom Issue It was reported to me by another teacher that Sam *came up to a student and flipped him off and then was using his fingers to poke the student in the stomach *jumped up on the urinal ledge *sat on the wall *pulling down of pants in front of a student and then walked over to go to the urinal to pee and with his pants down went back to the student and started to poke his stomach again. ... ....Today, Sam, along with many others, was very disruptive by talking, laughing, blurting out, and trying to gain peer attention...The whole class was given a reminder on my expectations and Sam was given a personal reminder in addition to that. The disruption continues. Then, Sam took his scissors out of his box and began to open and close them.... Even after 20 years of parenting boys, I'm still not quite sure how to respond to emails like this -- how to best support my son and his teacher while trying to preserve my son's love of learning. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: How teachers can adapt instruction to be more boy-friendly (Hint: Front-load the lesson with tactile, kinesthetic activities instead of starting with a lot of verbal instruction) How to talk to boys about behavior without shaming them The importance of mutual respect -- between teachers and students, parents and kids, teachers and parents How parents, teachers and students can work together toward mutually satisfactory solutions Teaching kids what "respect" looks like in a classroom The benefit of focusing on what's right How to help kids develop self-regulation skills The 3 things you absolutely must do when you receive a phone call or email from your son's teacher (#1: Breathe!) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 131: Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis Want Your Son To Succeed in School? Don't Fixate on Academics -- U.S. News & World Report article by Jen
Oct 18, 2018
130: Homework re-run
HOMEWORK can bring out the worst in us...and our kids. We wonder if we should force them to do it (again) or if we can just stop having them do it all together because the conflict is too great. Is it really important?  How do you manage - and help your son manage? In this re-broadcast of Episode 101, you'll find information and courage to choose the homework path that is right for your family. Photo by Lars Plougmann via Flickr Few things cause boys (and their families) as much stress as HOMEWORK. In many cases, homework battles turn into outright power struggles -- with no winners. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Why boys struggle with homework The impact of homework on boys' academic achievement What to do about "meaningless" homework How a "too cool for school" attitude can interfere with learning Why arguing about homework might not be the best use of your time and energy Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 101 How to Get Boys to Do Homework, Part 1 By Jennifer LW Fink How to Get Boys to Do Homework, Part 2 By Jennifer LW Fink Homework Tip #3: Let Your Kids Figure Out When & Where to Work by Jennifer LW Fink Homework at My House by Jennifer LW Fink Homework Solutions in the Age of Distraction by Devorah Heitner, Phd ==================== Watch the UNCUT version on Youtube here. ==================== What great solutions have you found that work with your boys?  Please share!
Sep 27, 2018
129 Grief with Tom Golden
One of our jobs, as parents and educators of boys, is to help them learn how to deal with tough emotions -- including grief. As much as we want to, we can't protect our boys from hurt. Loved ones die. Parents divorce Friends move. Boys fail to achieve important goals, and experience rejection from peers. Grief hurts. It comes and goes. Or it just stays and never seems to go away... Everyone handles grief differently. Boys tend to handle grief MUCH differently - we may be surprised AND concerned when we don't see our boys cry after a major loss. . Tom Golden, a therapist has worked with hundreds of boys and their families, has some great tips for helping boys him navigate grief. Speaking of grief: Janet is taking some time as she has just helped her dad wind down his life (only weeks after an epic trip to England). He died with a dream realized and we are celebrating that! In this episode, Jen & Tom discuss: What cross-cultural research tells us about how males & females grieve How action helps boys heal The link between safety & storytelling -- and how both are necessary to help boys who are grieving How to identify your son's "safe place" The physiological reason your boy might not cry Precarious manhood How parallel, shoulder-to-shoulder activities can help you connect with your boy What NOT to say to a grieving boy -- & what to say instead Why honoring the deceased via action is so important & meaningful to boys & men Red flags that might indicate a need for professional help Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 129: Getting Closer to Boys -- Tom's website that helps moms better understand boys TGolden.com -- Tom's professional website (and a great place to explore ALL of his work) Helping Mothers Be Closer to Their Sons: Understanding the Unique World of Boys, by Tom Golden If you are grieving, we send you hugs.  Know that you are not alone. <3
Sep 20, 2018
128: 21st Century Sex Ed with Jo Langford
Jo LangfordSex educator & author The standard "birds and bees" sex talk doesn't work any more. (If it ever really did!) Today, parents have to address pornography, homosexuality, gender and consent. If you feel nervous tackling those topics, don't worry. You're not alone. Sex educator and therapist Jo Langford routinely helps parents navigate these tricky conversations. Langford is the author of Spare Me the Talk!: A Guy's Guide to Sex, Relationships and Growing Up and The Pride Guide: The Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth, the first book about sex and sexuality written specifically for LGBTQ tweens and teens. Langford is also the father of a teenage boy and tween girl. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Jo discuss: How to support 21st century kids, even if you don't yet know what cisgender means Inclusive language - & why it's important (Hint: when you start talking about sex, you probably won't know if your child is gay, straight or trans, and the words you use can lead to alienation or signal acceptance.) How to help boys understand gender fluidity The influence of culture on boys' attitudes towards sex and gender How to respond when boys use the word "gay" as an insult or putdown What teens want their parents to discuss with them (Spoiler: technology!) How teens use screens to explore their sexuality and develop relationships - & how parents can help their kids navigate the digital world How to protect kids from accidental porn exposure (Hint: blocking software is your friend) Age-appropriate language you can use to discuss porn with your boys Jo's "50% rule" for porn Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 126: behereos.net -- Jo's website, featuring his talks, speaking schedule & free downloads (including Porn: The Guide to a Healthy Grab-It Habit) Spare Me 'The Talk!': A Guy's Guide to Sex, Relationship, and Growing Up, by Jo Langford The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth, by Jo Langford When Children Say They're Trans -- The Atlantic article Episode 110: Talk to Boys About Sex with Amy Lang Why Inclusive Sex Ed is So Important -- article by Jen
Sep 13, 2018
127: Help! My Son Has a Girlfriend! (Listener Q & A)
"My son just turned 14 & his girlfriend is 13, and he doesn't understand why I won't leave them alone in my house. Am I being over protective of BOTH of them? I feel a duty of care to his girlfriend. I know how easily things can turn from innocent to not-so-innocent. They are both physically mature. Help!" -- Kathleen   Photo by Robyn Gallant via Flickr Helping boys (and girls) navigate the ins-and-outs of relationships isn't easy. It's also one of our most important jobs. The groundwork and guidelines we establish will set the tone for our kids' behavior and relationship expectations for years to come. It's not enough to simply say, "Stay safe." And it's not practical (or even advisable) to say, "No dating!" Somehow, we need to give our children room to explore and experiment with emotional and physical intimacy, while also teaching them respect and boundaries. While dealing with teenagers. Who are sure they know everything. Not easy. We're here to help you muddle through.   In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: The changing definition of "girlfriend" -- & why it's important to ask your son what the term means to him How family rules & values can help you (& your teen) navigate relationships Why it's so important to discuss relationships, consent & sex with your boys, beginning when they're young How to connect with the family of your son's GF (& why you might want to) Why it's more beneficial to talk about what to do in a relationship than what not to do How relationships can help your son expand his emotional vocabulary Why you might want to invest in a box of condoms. Even if your son is only 10. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 127: Episode 110: Talk to Boys about Sex with Amy Lang Episode 119: Consent with Mike Domritz Talking to Boys about Sexually Aggressive Girls -- BuildingBoys post about how to help your son handle sexual pressure
Sep 06, 2018
126: Helping Teachers Understand Boys
Photo via PixaBay A listener asked us, "How do you gently encourage/educate your boy's teacher on what boys need and how to help them, rather than shame them, when they have gone into anger?" The short answer: It ain't easy, but it's so, so worth it! Many teachers know very little about the specific developmental trajectory and needs of boys; teacher training often does not include a course that delves into gender-related differences in learning and communication. Some teachers naturally "get" boys; others are easily overwhelmed by boys' energy. Most teachers, however, sincerely want to help children. They're eager to learn, and usually quite open to partnering with students' parents. After all, parents have had years to figure out their child's trigger points and preferred calming strategies; teachers only get a few months. Also: the research has consistently shown that what's good for boys is good for learning. Increasing recess time actually improves student focus, decreases off-task behavior (by as much as 25%, according to at least one study!) and increases academic achievement. But how do you share information about boys' needs with your sons' teachers? Very carefully. According to Janet & Jen, timing is everything; don't approach a teacher at the end of a busy day or during morning drop-off, and definitely DO NOT fire off an email or text to your son's teacher when you are angry. Share specific information about your boy before gently segueing to a more general discussion of boys' needs. Try framing your comments in a way that shows empathy. Saying something like, "Before I had Caleb, I didn't realize..." is one way to acknowledge the fact that you yourself had a lot to learn about boys-- and may inspire your son's teacher to reflect on her own knowledge of boys. If your son's teacher is interested in learning more, consider sharing a book or articles with her. (Some of our favorites are listed in the show notes below.) A school or community-wide book study is a great way to increase awareness of boys' needs too -- and may be the way to increase boys' engagement and academic achievement. Janet and Jen are available to speak at your school and bring a wealth of wisdom, humor, and empathy to both parents and teachers. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: The right time to talk "boy" with your son's teacher When -- and how -- to involve administration How to use the school's discipline referral data to identify opportunities for improvement How parents can work together to make a school more boy-friendly Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 126: BOKS Kids-- Reebok-sponsored, parent-inspired before & after school activity program 7 Ways Teachers Can Make School Better for Boys -- BuildingBoys blog post BuildingBoys Resource List Writing the Playbook: A Practitioner's Guide to Creating a Boy-Friendly School, by Kelley King Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, by Stephen James & David S. Thomas The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School & in Life, by Michael Gurian US! We can come to your school, library or community & educate parents & teachers about boys. Click on the picture below to send us a message. We'll be in touch as soon as possible!
Aug 30, 2018
125: Anxiety & Depression in Boys
Photo by Brent Gambrell via Flickr   1 in 2 children will develop a mood or behavioral disorder or substance addiction by age 18.  We parents like to think that if we "do everything right," our kids will be mentally and physically healthy with nary a care in the world. But that's not the case. The truth is that mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety, affect people of all ages from every segment of society -- including Jen, who was diagnosed with double depression in her mid-30s. Sadly, boys & men are far less likely to seek help for a mental health condition than girls and women. Fear of looking "weak" or "unmanly" causes many guys to bottle up their feelings, with potentially disastrous results. (In 2016, white males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in the United States.) Anxiety and depression, the two most common mental health disorders, are highly treatable, but too many children and families suffer alone. Only about 40% of children and teens with anxiety or depression receive treatment. Intervening when your son exhibits symptoms of anxiety or depression can change the trajectory of his life, for the better. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: How persistent stigma keeps families from acknowledging and seeking help for anxiety & depression (4:05) Symptoms of anxiety and depression in boys & men (4:56; 10:59;16:49) The link between anxiety & depression and risk-taking behavior, including drug use and promiscuous sex (7:40) Breaking through denial (11:53) How to help your child, even if no one else thinks there's a problem (13:45) or you have a hard time accessing mental health services (14:01) The difference between "worry" and "anxiety" (17:46) The link between anxiety & depression (20:44) How to find professional help, including online counseling (24:42) How to identify a boy-friendly therapist or counselor (27:53) The importance of self-care when dealing with a family member's mental health issues (29:30) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 125: The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever and What to Do About It -- book by Katherine Reynolds Lewis Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis Episode 115: The Boy Crisis with Warren Farrell Author Ann Douglas on How to Help Boys with Mental Health Challenges -- BuildingBoys blog post Parenting Through the Storm: Find Help, Hope, and Strength When Your Child Has Psychological Problems -- book by Ann Douglas Episode 114: Sleepover, Summer Camp & Separation Anxiety National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) K'Bro -- emotional resiliency app/game that helps boys identify and manage emotions ManTherapy -- interactive website that just might appeal to older teen boys who are otherwise resistant to seeking help TalkSpace -- offers anonymous, online counseling with licensed therapists
Aug 23, 2018
124: How to Help Your Boys Have a Great School Year
Photo by ThoseGuys 199 via Flickr It's back to school time!  But despite the smiley faces pictured in many back-to-school ads, the start of a new academic year doesn't exactly generate feelings of enthusiasm and excitement in many boys (or their parents). For many families, back-to-school time is synonymous with dread, fear and anxiety. In fact, the number of boys who don't like school has increased over the past generation. In 1980, 14% of boys said they didn't like school. By 2001, 24% of boys -- nearly one-quarter -- said they disliked school. Today, the number is likely even higher. We get it: school isn't always a boy-friendly place. Boys who have experienced failure and shame in school aren't likely to suddenly develop an optimistic attitude toward school. That's where you come in. There's a lot parents and teachers can do to preserve boys' love of learning, and set them up for a successful school year, including introducing them to new rules and teachers well before the first day and creating morning and after-school routines that respect boys' need for movement. Also important: learning about boys' natural development, so you can better understand why so many boys struggle in school. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: The unique challenges boys face in modern classrooms, including early academic pressure and expectations that aren't aligned with boy development  (3:25 & 9:15)) Why it's important to tackle your own unresolved issues and values regarding learning and education (4:00) How to help boys starting preschool (6:30) Why you need to explicitly outline behavior expectations for school and home (12:04) How unscheduled downtime helps boys learn (14:05) Why you should focus on developing boys' social-emotional skills (14:58) Setting screen time limits (15:50) Why (& when) it's OK to prioritize life over homework (16:40) The "potted plant" method of parenting -- & how to use it to support teen boys (18:00) How to help your boys get organized (19:23) Why letting our boys fail will ultimately allow them to succeed (20:36) How to get teenage boys to talk about school (22:00) Helps boys transition to high school (22:50) How teachers can connect with boys (25:42) How humor can help you deal with setbacks (29:23) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 124: Episode 101: Homework & Boys Episode 106: Screens & Boys 7 Ways Teachers Can Make School Better for Boys -- BuildingBoys blog post Boys & School -- classic BuildingBoys post about the challenges Jen's son Sam encountered when he started school 5 Back-to-School Resolutions
Aug 16, 2018
123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis
If your kids always do what they're told, consistently treat others with kindness and never over-react to unintended slights, you can skip this episode. If not -- WELCOME! Your child is 100% normal, and you're going to love this conversation with Jen, Janet and Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of The Good News About Bad Behavior. In her book, Lewis writes: If you look around and see misbehaving, undisciplined children everywhere, it's not just imagination. Children today are fundamentally different from past generations. They truly have less self-control. Simply put, we face a crisis of self-regulation. Lewis's observations of her own children, and comments from other parents, led her on a six-year exploration of behavior, parenting and neurobiology -- and points the way toward parenting techniques we can begin adapting right now to improve our children's behavior. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Katherine discuss: The dramatic increase in mental health problems in today's youth What self-regulation is, why it's important, and how to develop it in our kids How to shift your mindset from "How do I control my children?" to "How do I teach them to control themselves?" Progress, not perfection How to shift from a reactive model of parenting to thoughtful, deliberate parenting The "mumble and walk away technique" (Trust us: this can change your parenting for the better!) 3 common characteristics of research-backed models of discipline: connection, communication & capability How to use physical touch to help your child self-regulate Why kids need to do hard stuff -- & the link between failure & self-esteem The relationship between risk & capability ("Early risky experiences seem to inoculate kids from later phobias & anxiety," Lewis says. She also says, "Kids should do something a little bit risky every day.") Why you should watch out for the word "should" How to find support as you practice a new model of parenting Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 123: katherinereynoldslewis.com -- Katherine's author website. Contains a lot of info about her book and a complete list of her speaking gigs. Teaching Consent to a 12-Year-Old Boy -- the backstory behind the "bathroom email" referenced at about 7:16 Why Boys Do What They Do -- blog post about Jen's son pulling himself around the bases (referenced at 8:00) Episode 111: Self-Esteem & Boys Episode 116: Why Risk is Important for Boys BuildingBoys private FB group -- Jen's online parenting community. We welcome parents of boys of all ages, but seem to specialize in helping each other navigate the tween and teen years. A consistently supportive community, filled with tenderness, honesty and compassion. Boys Alive! Supporting Parents and Teachers of Boys at Home and in School FB group -- Janet's online community. This supportive community stands ready to answer your questions, share their hard-won wisdom, and commiserate and send virtual hugs when needed. Janet invites you to explore these - and other - parenting concepts in her 6 week class: The 5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting.  Click here for more details and registration.
Aug 09, 2018
122: Co-Parenting with Brandie Weikle
photo by J.K. Califf via Flickr The word co-parenting is typically associated with divorce, but maybe it's time to change that association. After all, the term refers to shared responsibility for parenting. In the world of divorce, it means that both parents share responsibility for big decisions (like healthcare and education), and both parents share the mundane, day-to-day responsibilities of parenting, like feeding the children and getting them to and from activities. Shared parenting is another term that's often used interchangeably with co-parenting, and we think all parents -- married, divorced, or single -- would do well to think of parenting as a cooperative venture. As divorced parents, we know that co-parenting often means coming to terms with the fact that you cannot control how your ex parents. After divorce, it is impossible for one parent to dictate what the children eat or when they go to bed. Often, the parents will arrive at a general consensus, but each is free to parent as he or she sees fit during his or her time with the children. And that, we think, is a model worth embracing, especially because the research has shown that: Moms tend to "take over" parenting and push dads out of the way Father involvement is crucially important to the healthy development of children, particularly boys Learning to co-parent effectively can make your life easier, and improve your son's overall well-being. Our special guest this episode is Brandie Weikle, editor and publisher of The New Family and host of The New Family podcast. Brandie is also a divorced mom of two boys. Brandie Weikle   In this episode, Jen, Janet & Brandie discuss: What married parents can learn from divorced & single parents Warren Farrell's four "must-dos" for divorced parents (& how married parents can adapt them to improve their-parenting relationship) The challenges of co-parenting How co-parenting benefits kids -- and parents Tips for effective shared parenting Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 122: Is Shared Parenting Best for Boys After Divorce? - BuildingBoys post about how Jen discovered the value of co-parenting The New Family -- Brandie Weikle's website. Includes links to the New Family podcast. How to Co-Parent Well Through Separation, Divorce & Beyond -- webinar featuring Brandie & family mediator Rosanna Breitman Episode 115: The Boy Crisis with Warren Farrell An Open Letter to Drake About Co-Parenting - New Family post by Brandie Weikle and Heather Feldstein
Aug 02, 2018
121: Sibling Stress: How to Handle Bickering, Fighting & More
Photo by Anna Mayer via Flickr If you have more than one child, you have sibling stress. Bickering! Fighting! Maybe even bullying. Seeing -- and hearing -- our children torment each other is major source of stress and family conflict. We wonder, Have I failed? Are my children doomed to become jerks? Will they EVER get along? Should I intervene? Or let them work it out on their own?  Jen and Janet are here to tell you that sibling stress is NORMAL. Your kids' arguing and bickering does not mean that they hate one another -- though it can certainly seem that way in the moment. But the reality is that sibling fights help children discover and learn limits, empathy and social behavior. Between brothers, fights can even promote bonding. You don't have to stand idly by, though, while your children scream, shout and throw things at one another. If someone is in immediate emotional or physical danger, intervene ASAP. And during periods of calm, there's a lot you can do to encourage healthy sibling relationships. You can: Explicitly discuss the importance of siblings Outline your expectations, i.e., You must always ask before touching or using anything that belongs to your sibling Avoid unnecessary meddling Teach negotiation and compromise Limit the amount of "stuff" in your home (the more material possessions kids have, the more they fight) In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Why moms, in particular, struggle with sibling fights How sibling relationships change over the years (Yes, there is hope!) Red-flag behavior (or, how to tell when you have to intervene) How parents can encourage healthy sibling relationships What to do about name-calling "Family hate" Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 121: Fight! -- classic BuildingBoys blog post (includes a super-cute picture of Jen's two oldest boys when they were much younger) Help! My Son Hates His Siblings! -- Micro-course led by Janet. Work at your own pace in this self contained course. Why You Need to Stop Focusing on Your Boys' Bickering - BuildingBoys post Do Your Boys Bicker? -- YouTube video featuring Jen
Jul 26, 2018
120: Hygiene Help for Tween & Teen Boys
The shower at Jen's house Have a boy who hates to shower? You are not alone! When a mom recently asked the Building Boys Facebook group, "Anyone else have a teenage boy who hates to shower?" she was quickly inundated with support and sympathy. Personal hygiene, it seems, is not a priority for most tween and teen boys. Lots of moms said they're dealing with the exact same issue. Others said that their boys spend a lot of time in the shower, but come out with unwashed, still-dirty hair. Is this lack of interest in appearance and, um, smell, merely a stage that will resolve without intervention? Or should parents and teachers take a more active role in teaching and reinforcing hygiene habits? Turns out, the best approach is actually a combination of those two strategies. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: WHY some boys seems oblivious to their own stench The essential role of 5th grade teachers in the hygiene battle How colored liquid soap can help boys shower effectively "Man soap" vs. "girly soap" Axe bombs (Don't know what that is? Listen in at 12:41!) When -- and how -- to have the hygiene talk When boys should start using deodorant - & how to make sure your boys use it regularly (Listen carefully for Jen's pro tips!) The role of role-modeling in personal hygiene How to get the stench out of your boys' gym clothes and sports uniforms Tooth brushing (Spoiler: Instill good tooth brushing habits when you boys are young!) Hair care How to combine male bonding and hygiene rituals (not as weird as it sounds!) BEING NEUTRAL! Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 120: Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold and Brilliant. by Mayim Bialik -- A great book to leave laying around the house. Includes detailed hygiene instructions for boys. Parenting Teen Boys Is... -- BuildingBoys post by Jen. Includes this pic: Why Do Teenagers Smell Bad? Study Suggests They May Be Unable to Detect Own Scent -- report of Danish research
Jul 19, 2018
119 Consent with Mike Domirtz
Kids want the skill set to empower them to make the right choices. -- Mike Domritz, founder of The Date Safe Project & father of 4 boys Talking to boys about consent is a must. It's also incredibly challenging and a bit intimidating. Let's face it: if adults were consistently good at consent, there wouldn't be a constant slew of headlines alleging sexual assault and misconduct. The good news about the #MeToo movement is that it's moved the issue of consent into the national conversation. Increasingly, parents and educators are realizing that talking about the mechanics of sex is not enough; we have to talk about the messy realities of relationships. We need to teach our children how to treat others with respect, and how to set and maintain boundaries. We need to equip them with the skills to navigate a culture that's rife with stereotypes and sexual imagery. Mike Domritz has been working in this space for years. As the founder The Date Safe Project, Mike regularly talks to school children, college students, the military and parents about safe, healthy relationships.   In a world where people are constantly being told “What Not To Do,” The DATE SAFE Project believes the best approach is to give people positive how-to skills and helpful insights for addressing verbal consent (asking first), respecting boundaries, sexual decision-making, bystander intervention, and supporting survivors (opening the door for family and friends). In this episode, Jen, Janet & Mike discuss:  How dating today is different -- and similar -- to "back in the day" (Spoiler: It's 95% similar!) How parents inadvertently cause kids to mistrust their advice -- & how you can build connection instead Porn (Heads up: There's no way to avoid porn in today's culture, so it's your job to equip your son with information and values he can use to process what he may see.) How to make sure you -- not your boys' friends -- are their primary, most-valued source of information regarding sexuality and relationships Why you should blow up a condom when discussing safe sex and contraception (Really!) Specific language you can teach your boys so they can say no (or yes) to sexual activity Whether or not to discuss your teenage sexual experiences with your kids Helping boys understand the #MeToo movement How to use TV, current events & music to discuss consent and relationships with your boys Teenage slang for sex (Do you know what "smash" means?) Why you always, always need to ask first  Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 119: Episode 110: Talk to Boys About Sex with Amy Lang The Date Safe Project -- Mike's website. Includes links to lots of resources, and info about how you can hire him to come talk to your school or community. Talking to Boys About Sexually Aggressive Girls -- 2014 BuildingBoys post. Includes tips boys can use to say "no." Episode 105: Masculinity in the Age of #MeToo Katy Perry, Benjamin Glaze, American Idol and the Unwanted Kiss -- Mike breaks down exactly why what happened was so wrong Special Offer for On Boys subscribers: FREE 48 hour access to Mike's video, "Help! My Teen is Dating." Click DSPbonus.com to access the video.
Jul 12, 2018
118: Business Tips from a 12-Year-Old Entrepreneur
Sam Fink, age 12 Boys can learn a lot by starting and running a business. Jen's youngest son, Sam, bought his older brother's lawn business two years ago, when the older brother moved to Tennessee (where he has since started another lawn care service). At age 12, Sam has a roster of 18 clients. He cuts and trims lawns and performs most of the necessary maintenance on his machines. In this very special episode, Sam shares the story of his business, as well as some tips for would-be entrepreneurs and their parents. This episode is a great one to share with your boys! In this episode, Jen, Janet & Sam discuss: The value of paid employment How parents can encourage and support boys who are interested in starting a business How to manage risk The entrepreneurial mindset Money management Balancing school, work, and sports Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 118: Sam's Lawn Service on Instagram Episode 117: Summer Jobs Episode 116: Why Risk is Important for Boys
Jul 05, 2018
Protected: Good News About Bad Behavior – Private
There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.
Jun 28, 2018
117: Summer Jobs
Photo by Austin Kirk via Flickr Does your son have a summer job? Most boys don't. In 1978, 60% of teens had summer jobs; today, that number hovers between 35 and 40%. Boys today are more likely to spend their days playing sports, brushing up on academics and traveling with family or as part of mission teams. (And playing Fortnite.) Years ago, getting a job was an expected rite of passage for teens. In today's hyper-competitive world, more and more parents focus time, attention and energy on "enrichment" activities designed to help children become attractive college applicants. But summer jobs are a great way to help boys confront RISK and develop RESPONSIBILITY, RESPECT and REVENUE. Thanks to a tight labor market in many parts of the country, there are still plenty of jobs available for teens and tweens. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss how to support your son's entry into the world of work. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Their first jobs The unique benefits of paid employment, including feedback from others Great, high-paying jobs for tweens and teens How parents can help their boys turn unique interests & passions into a paying job Coming NEXT WEEK: We talk to 12-year-old Sam about his lawn care business. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 117: What Your Teens Learn When They Get a Summer Job - blog post by The Money Couple, Scott & Bethany Palmer Teens Should Have Summer Jobs - The Less Glamorous, The Better -- Quartz article 7 High-Paying Summer Jobs for Teens - Forbes article On Boys Episode 116: Why Risk is Important for Boys Gangnam Style, Lifeguards & Work Ethics - 2012 BuildingBoys post (Excerpt: "Our kids need to understand that employee handbooks still apply in the Age of the Internet.") Orienting Your Boy's Priorities During His Teenage Years -  2018 Building Boys post (Spoiler: "A Job" is on the list) And, as always, enjoy the uncut version of Janet and Jen - sometimes trying to figure out what to say - here on Youtube.
Jun 28, 2018
Protected: [5 Steps] Private Link to Good News About Bad Behavior
There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.
Jun 22, 2018
116: Why Risk Is Important for Boys
How comfortable are you with risk? Do you respond with fear or encouragement when your son wants to try something new? How about when you find him climbing atop your tree house? Or doing flips off a public staircase? Adults' desire to keep boys safe often interferes with boys' ability to take chances and try new things. But "protecting" boys from risky activity can actually cause harm. Boys (and girls) need to try scary, challenging things that are just beyond their current skill set in order to grow and thrive. When we eliminate risk from our children's lives, we hamper their emotional and physical development. It's not easy to confront our own fears and societal pressure in order to give our boys ample opportunities to experiment and explore. But that's exactly what our boys need. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Why boys need risk Societal challenges that make it harder than ever for boys to find & face risk Boys' ability to manage risk How risk fuels confidence & competence What parents, grandparents & teacher can do to encourage kids to step out of their comfort zones Why it's especially important for Moms to take risks The link between curiosity and risk-taking 5 tips to encourage healthy risk-taking: Reject arbitrary rules & limits Follow his lead Adjust your focus It's OK to look away Let him see you trying new things How risk can make life more fun Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 116: My Horrible Mom Moment -- 2009 blog post by Jen, telling the story of her youngest son's bike crash Youngest Son Sets Ambitious Goal and Ends Up With Lollipop - A reframing of the above story Let Them Take Risks -- US News article by Jen, inspired by her then 14-year-old son when he said, "I wish I lived back in Dad's childhood." The Walk -- 2015 film about tightrope walker Philippe Petit's walk between the Twin Towers Freerangekids.com -- Lenore Skenzay's website, all about empowering kids The Good News About Bad Behavior – Katherine Reynolds Lewis’ book. Includes study that says exposure to risk at young ages decreases phobias. Summer Safety: Preventing Injuries -- BuildingBoys blog post by Jen You can watch the uncut version of this podcast episode on Youtube.
Jun 21, 2018
115: The Boy Crisis with Warren Farrell
Your son is not the only one struggling. According to Dr. Warren Farrell -- and a slew of research -- boys in 63 of the largest developed nations are faring worse than girls. They're doing worse academically. They're falling behind in the workplace. And their physical and mental health is failing as well. In his new book, The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, Farrell (and his co-author, John Gray) examine the many factors contributing to the boy crisis. They also point toward possible solutions. Solving the boy crisis will take a lot of effort on the part of parents, teachers and politicians, but it's a cause that's well worth our attention, because when our boys suffer, society suffers. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Warren discuss: How (and why) father absence hurts boys & society How moms (married or single) can encourage & support father involvement Why so many boys suffer a "purpose void" The importance of postponed gratification The link between recess, vocational education and the boy crisis How to find male mentors for your son The 4 "must-do's" for divorced parents of boys How dad deprivation may contribute to social violence -- including school shootings Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 115: boycrisis.org -- Dr. Farrell's website, jam-packed with info about the book and lots of links to other resources & organizations (including BuildingBoys & Boys Alive!) Coalition to Create a White House Council on Boys & Men -- multi-partisan effort working to create, well, a White House Council on Boys & Men, to research and implement initiatives to support the well-being of males, in the same way the White House Council on Women & Girls has since its establishment in 2009. Are Single Parents Bad for Boys? -- BuildingBoys post by Jen (Spoiler alert: The short answer is "not necessarily.") Is Shared Parenting Best for Boys After Divorce? -- personal blog post by Jen The Boy Crisis is Real - BuildingBoys' review of the book And, just for fun, watch the uncut version on Youtube!
Jun 14, 2018
114: Sleepovers, Camp, and Separation Anxiety
Photo by Matthew Ingram via Flickr 'Tis the season for sleepaway camp and summer sleepovers! For some parents and kids, though, the prospect of a night away from home is scary. There are so many ‘what-if’s' that could happen: what if they’re cold? what if they get homesick? what if...what if...what if... But what if you let your kid go anyway? What if you work together to tackle any fear and uncertainty, and give your son the opportunity to test his skills and stamina? Time away from home is an opportunity for boys to: Discover new parts of themselves Build their resilience & self-esteem Be in charge of their own growth Learn how to struggle, suffer and navigate feelings of boredom Connect and collaborate with others Sleepovers and sleepaway camp are a great opportunity for parental growth and development too. When you send your son away (temporarily!), you learn to.. Let go. Trust your kids Allow other adults to mentor and influence your child. Still nervous? Listen to the podcast. :) In this episode, Jen & Janet dig in and discuss: The right age for sleepovers and slumber parties How to deal with separation anxiety Why time apart is good for parents and kids How to create sleepaway experiences on a budget Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 114: Homesick & Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow, by Michael Thompson Kidsickness: Help for First Time Parents from the Sunshine Parenting blog Homesickness Do's and Don'ts from the Sunshine Parenting blog To SEE Janet and Jen discussing their own summer adventures AND the benefits of letting your kids go... see us on youtube ... uncut! What have your experiences been with sleep-aways? Comment below!
Jun 07, 2018
113: Lying, Risk, & How to Advocate for Boys (Listener Q&A, Part 2)
Welcome to Part 2 of our first Listener Q & A! This week, Jen & Janet tackle 3 more questions: "What strategies do you use to deal with a sudden increase in lying in pre-teen boys?" "What's the best way to allow young boys to be adventurous/risky physically while maintaining a clear, safe boundary and being a responsible parent?" "How do you talk about the needs of boys and the help they need without sounding dismissive of girls or anti-feminist? For example, as the mother of a boy, I'm not entirely sure I agree with making scouting gender-neutral. I think boys benefit from boys-only time. But how do I make that point without sounding sexist or anti-progressive?" Have we mentioned that you ask GREAT questions? In this episode, Jen & Janet dig in and discuss: Why tweens are likely to lie (Hint: the tween -- & teen -- years are all about separating from your parents). How your response to your son's lies will influence his future behavior (Not-so-fun fact: If you consistently come down hard on your kids, they're more likely to lie.) When -- and which -- consequences are appropriate for boys caught in a lie? The role of risk in boys' development. How parental hovering can interfere with boys' development -- and inadvertently increase the risk of injury or inactivity. Why moms and female teachers may be boys' most effective advocates! How to advocate for boys without sounding sexist or anti-progressive. Jen & Janet have a lot of fun recording these podcasts -- as you can see in this fully uncut Youtube video. (Go to 3:30 if you want to see Jen & Janet crack up over a poop joke.) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 113: Episode 112: Potty Talk, Vaping & School (Listener Q & A, Part 1)  "I Didn't Do It!" -- Jen's Scholastic Parent & Child article about why kids lie and how to foster truthfulness Let Them Take Risks -  U.S. News article inspired by Jen's 14 -year-old son Encouraging Your Son to Take Healthy Risks -- article by Jen For Our Boys - BuildingBoys' call for moms to advocate for boys Got a question you’d like us to answer in a future episode? Leave it in the comments below.
May 31, 2018
112: Potty Talk, Vaping & School (Listener Q&A, Part 1)
When we put out a call for listener questions, you sent us some doozies! In this, our first-ever Listener Q & A (Part 1), we tackle three of your questions: "I just finished listening to the podcast episode with Amy Lang. I know she says we should begin talking to boys about bodies at 5 but wonder if this still applies to boys who are always using potty words and have horrible filters? My son unfortunately goes to school and talks to his friends about poop and butts." "At what age is 'experimenting' with vaping developmentally acceptable and when is it a red flag?" "When do you need to back the school and their approach and when do you challenge it?" We also laugh A LOT. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Potty talk (young boys LOVE talking about poop & butts & pee) Fecal transplants (trust us: it was related to the topic at hand!) Vaping  -- and what to do if you discover your son has been experimenting School conflicts -- when to back the school, and when to back your boy (and how to effectively do both) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 112: Everybody Poops, by Taro Gomi Fecal Transplantation, by Johns Hopkins Medicine Episode 110: Talk to Boys About Sex with Amy Lang Boys, Porn & Masturbation - great info from Amy Lang E-Cigarettes -- information on vaping from the Nemours Foundation, a credible, reliable source of health information Episode 101: Homework and Boys Enjoy our zany recording day in the fully uncut version on Youtube - you'll hear both part 1 and 2. Got a question you'd like us to answer in a future episode? Leave it in the comments below.
May 24, 2018
111: Self-Esteem and Boys
Photo by ASDA NRCS Montana According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, self-esteem is "confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect." That's something we want for our kids. We're not talking about participation trophies simply for showing up; we're talking about a true sense of pride that comes for knowledge of your capabilities. Nurturing that kind of self-confidence is a crucial part of helping boys grow into healthy men. But how do we do that? It's not as hard as we adults often think. In this episode, Jen shares some "little things" that actually turned out to be big things, including her youngest son's base-crawling adventure at a local 4th of July celebration, and her oldest son's dandelion sale, which sparked a lifelong interest in entrepreneurism. The key, Janet says, is to start early, and give boys multiple opportunities to contribute in a meaningful manner. And boys give us plenty of clues as to how we can help them. As the proverb says, "It is easiest to ride a horse in the direction that it is already going." The best part is that building boys' self-esteem is a win-win-win situation: Boys develop a strong sense of self-worth; develop skills they can use to help their families, schools and communities; and gain the experience and skills they need to care for themselves and others in adulthood. BTW, Jen talks with her hands A LOT. Check out the uncut, video version of this episode at  https://youtu.be/pl8euUNcz5E.  In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: How "little things" are actually important opportunities to build -- or squelch -- boys' self-esteem The link between responsibility & self-esteem Boys' drive to contribute to their families, schools and communities The role of failure in developing self-esteem (and how you can help boys productively handle failure) The link between risk & self-esteem -- and why it's so important to let our boys try things beyond their current capability How to preserve boys' self-esteem in school The right (and wrong) way to praise Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 111: Why Boys Do What They Do -- Jen's blog post about her son's adventure crawling around the bases 5 Ways to Boost Your Child's Self-Confidence  -- Motherlist post by Vicki Little Let Them Take Risks -- U.S. News article by Jen Let Him Fail - blog post by Janet Creating High Self-Esteem in Your Boys - BuildingBoys blog post
May 17, 2018
110: Talk to Boys about Sex with Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a sex educator -- and the mom of a teenage boy who is utterly mortified by his mom's career. If anyone understands just how awkward talking about sex with your son can be -- and how important it is to push through despite your the discomfort -- it's Amy.   Amy is the creator of Birds + Bees + Kids, a fantastic resource for parents, childcare providers and educators. She speaks frequently about sex education and has written two books about sexuality and dating. She's down to earth and a whole lot of fun. We laughed a lot while recording this episode! In this episode, Jen, Janet & Amy discuss: When to have “The Talk” with your son How to initiate the conversation – and what to say Why you gotta explain oral and anal sex How to convey sexual values and talk about consent Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 110: http://birdsandbeesandkids.com/  -- Amy’s website It’s Not the Stork: A Book about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends, by Robie H. Harris Birds + Bees + YOUR Kids: A Guide to Sharing Your Beliefs about Sexuality, Love and Relationships, by Amy Lang Tea Consent – YouTube video using a cup of tea as an analogy to help you and your boys understand consent My Unfortunate Erection – song from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee https://buildingboys.net/health/sex/ -- Jen’s series of informational blog posts ======================================================================= And YES, you can watch the UNCUT version of our conversation on YouTube!
May 10, 2018
109: Gun Play and Boys
Photo by Craig Marren via Flickr  Is Gun Play Really Okay? A generation ago, gun play was an acceptable part of childhood. Parents gave their kids toy guns as gifts -- yes, even Red Ryder BB guns! (and yes, that's A Christmas Story reference) -- and boys regularly played Cops and Robbers and War both at school and in the neighborhood. Today, we're a little more leery of gun play. And no wonder. Mass shootings seem to happen with alarming regularity, and without exception, the shooters so far have been male. No one wants their son to grow up to be the next school shooter. No one wants their son to kill another human being in anger. So, yeah -- we're understandably nervous when our boys nibble their toast into a gun shape and say, "bang!" But what's the best way to respond to boys' fascination with guns and weapons? Note ~ Girls play with guns, too.  This is my friend's daughter playing at the beach with some conveniently shaped sticks just recently: In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Why boys are so attracted to gun play The benefits of gun play (Yes -- there ARE benefits!) The risks of gun play, especially for African-American boys (12 year old Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun when he was shot by police.) Common sense guidelines for gun play How teachers and childcare professionals can uphold school rules that ban pretend violence without shaming boys Links we mentioned (or should have!) in Episode 111: Gun Play -- American Journal of Play article by professor emeritus Jay Mechling Voices on Gun Play - round-up of parents' thoughts, feelings and concerns regarding gun play, by Janet Is Gun Play OK? -- article by Jen Weapons Play is OK -- blog post by Jen (apparently answering the question she posed in the above article!) When it Comes to Toy Guns, Little Black Boys Don't Have the Luxury of Play -- BoysAlive! post by Karlie Johnson Common Sense Guidelines for Gun Play -- blog post by Jen Guidelines for Gun Play -- blog post by Janet Gun Play at School: What's a Teacher to Do? - blog post by Janet ============================== Watch the UNCUT version on Youtube here. ==============================
May 03, 2018
108: Video games and Boys (with special guest Greg Wondra)
Photo by Isengardt via Flickr Why do boys spend so many hours playing videogames?  And how worried should we be about the hours they spend gaming? To get some answers, we turned to a true expert: Greg Wondra, a former boy & current parent who also happens to be video game designer who worked on the MLB 2K series, Wizard 101, Lost Planet 3, and Monkeyquest, Greg Wondra, video game designer & dad In this episode, Jen, Janet & Greg discuss: Why boys are so attracted to video games How to help boys balance video games and other activities Red flags that might signal a problem with gaming What you need to know about social games and online gaming (such as Fortnite) How video games help boys develop 21st century job skills How games are designed to "suck you in" -- & how you can counter their call Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 108: How the War on Video Games is Hurting Your Son, by Jennifer L.W. Fink Are Video Games Bad for Boys? (YouTube video featuring Greg Wondra) Gamasutra.com -- gaming industry website What’s your experience with boys & video games?  Share in the comments below…
Apr 26, 2018
107: Video Game Design – A Career for Boys
Photo by Ryan Quick via Flickr Can your video game-loving boy turn his passion into a career? Perhaps, says our special guest, Greg Wondra. Greg is a veteran game designer who worked on the MLB 2K series, Wizard 101, Lost Planet 3, and Monkeyquest, and currently teaches video game design to high school students at Kern County Regional Occupational Center in California.   Greg directing a motion capture session with Derek Jeter for the MLB 2K baseball game.     Jen & Greg. Notice some resemblance? (They're brother & sister!) In this episode, Jen, Janet & Greg discuss: Why video games aren't a waste of time How a "grand curiosity" can lead to a lucrative career Viable career opportunities for gamers The educational background necessary to work in the gaming industry Low-cost ways to nurture boys' interest in game design Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 107: USC Games Program Entertainment Arts & Engineering at the University of Utah Intro to Game Design -- Greg's Udemy course Unreal Engine 4: Create an Arcade Classic -- another Udemy course by Greg
Apr 19, 2018
106: Screens and Boys
Photo by Paul Inkles via Flickr How many hours per week do your boys spend in front of a screen? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 6-10 now spend 6 hours per day using screens as entertainment. That figure doesn't count time spent learning via screens at school, or videochatting with grandma and grandpa. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Expert recommendations for screen time vs. reality Whether or not screen addiction is a "thing" Signs that your son might be spending too much time with screens How to help boys establish a balance between screentime and other activities The upside of screens Links we mentioned (or should have!) in Episode 106: Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking Our Kids - And How to Break the Trance  -- book by Nicholas Kardaras, PhD Family Media Use Plan – interactive tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (& Survive) In Their Digital World – book by Devorah Heitner Is Screen Time Really All That Bad? – blog post by Jennifer L.W. Fink The Link Between Freedom & Video Games – blog post by Jennifer L.W. Fink Moral Combat: Why the War of Violent Video Games is Wrong -- book by Patrick Markey and Christopher Ferguson
Apr 12, 2018
105: Masculinity in the Age of #MeToo
Photo by Independentman via Flickr What is masculinity? It's a question that's not easy to answer. But it's an important one for parents and educators of boys to tackle because the primary question for all boys, is "What is it to be a man?" In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: So-called "toxic masculinity" & the idea that boys are "broken" Healthy masculinity Changing expectations of boys and men How to help boys wrestle with dueling definitions of masculinity Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 105 Teenage Brothers on Sex, Social Media, and What Their Parents Don’t Understand, part of The Cut's series, How to Raise a Boy Michael Kimmel and Lisa Wade Discuss Toxic Masculinity The Boys Are Not All Right, by Michael Ian Black #DownWithManUp & #YesAll, by Jennifer L.W. Fink Joe Ehrmann on “Be a Man” (TEDx talk) The Art of Manliness (podcast) What does masculinity mean to you? How do you help boys wrestle with the concept of masculinity? Leave a comment below.
Apr 05, 2018
104: Anger and Boys
Photo by Stewart Baird via Flickr "By age 9, the default emotion for most boys is anger." -- Michael Gurian It's easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of a boy's anger, whether you've got a toddler throwing a temper tantrum or a teenager on a rampage. But learning to respond to boys' anger with love and patience is one of the best gifts we can give to our guys. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: How the "boy code" subtly encourages anger The biology of anger Techniques parents & teachers can use to manage boys' angry outburts The link between anger, aggression and violence (SPOILER ALERT: anger doesn't inevitably lead to violence) Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 104: Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, by Rosalind Wiseman Boy Talk: How You Can Help Your Son Express His Emotions by Mary Polce-Lynch Tips on Dealing with Anger -- From a 7-Year-Old Boy by Jennifer LW Fink He Is So Angry! by Janet Allison Teenage Angst, or Something More Serious? by Jennifer LW Fink SPECIAL NOTE: CLICK HERE for free access to Janet's 75-minute audio file - Learning Lab: Boys and Anger with a bonus pdf on "The Boy Code and Anger." Because you asked...you can WATCH the uncut version of this podcast on YouTube.
Mar 29, 2018
103: Sports and Boys Who Don’t Like Them
Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr Sports are a HUGE part of boy world -- and that's a problem for boys who aren't interested in or don't particularly enjoy athletics. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Why it's so important for parents to separate their athletic ambitions from their sons' How families can resist social pressure to sign up for sports Alternative ways to encourage activity, build teamwork and socialize How to identify and support your sons' true interests Strategies parents and teachers can use to make recess and PE class more tolerable for (and inclusive of!) non-athletic kids Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 103: The Last Boys Picked: Helping Boys Who Don't Play Sports Survive Bullies and Boyhood, by Janet Sasson Edgette Helping "The Last Boys Picked" Survive in Sports-Obsessed Schools by Janet Sasson Edgette Signs at School of Troubled Non-Athletic Boys by Jennifer LW Fink Being a Non-Sporty Boy in a Sports-Driven Culture by Janet Sasson Edgette ======================= Watch the UNCUT version on Youtube here. ======================= What's your experience?  Share in the comments below...
Mar 22, 2018
102: Disappointments and Helping Boys Deal with Them
Photo by Runar Pederson Hokestad via Flickr Sam had high hopes for this 12th birthday. But things didn’t go as planned. Instead of a day of adventure and independence, Sam’s had an encounter with a cop and learned he must wait another four years to ride his ATV independently on the trails. Dealing with disappointments is a key life skill. In this episode, Jen and Janet discuss how the “man box” stifles boys’ emotional expression and share strategies parents and teachers can use to help boys cope with disappointments big and small. Links we mentioned (or should have!) in Episode 102: Teach Your Boys To Comfort Others in a Crisis by Kim Hamer How Do I Cope with Grief? by Eric Alper Tapping Into Grief with Self-Empathy by Carole Downing Helping Boys Develop Emotional Intelligence by Ian Thomas Encouraging Emotional Intelligence in Boys by Jennifer LW Fink Your Son’s Ability to Tolerate Frustration and Rejection is More Important Than You Know by Jennifer LW Fink Parenting Through Disappointment, Loss and Grief by Carole Downing ========================= Watch the UNCUT version on Youtube. ========================= How have you helped your boys navigate disappointment, loss, and grief? Please share in the comments below.
Mar 15, 2018
101: Homework and Boys
Photo by Lars Plougmann via Flickr Few things cause boys (and their families) as much stress as HOMEWORK. In many cases, homework battles turn into outright power struggles -- with no winners. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: Why boys struggle with homework The impact of homework on boys' academic achievement What to do about "meaningless" homework How a "too cool for school" attitude can interfere with learning Why arguing about homework might not be the best use of your time and energy Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 101 How to Get Boys to Do Homework, Part 1 By Jennifer LW Fink How to Get Boys to Do Homework, Part 2 By Jennifer LW Fink Homework Tip #3: Let Your Kids Figure Out When & Where to Work by Jennifer LW Fink Homework at My House by Jennifer LW Fink Homework Solutions in the Age of Distraction by Devorah Heitner, Phd ==================== Watch the UNCUT version on Youtube here. ==================== What great solutions have you found that work with your boys?  Please share!
Mar 14, 2018
100: Introducing Co-Hosts Janet and Jen
What do you get when you combine a former educator/family coach with a writer/mom of 4 boys? A podcast that's all about parenting, teaching and reaching tomorrow's men! In this episode, you'll meet your co-hosts, Janet Allison and Jennifer L.W. Fink. Learn how they connected -- and why they believe it's so important for parents and teachers of boys to learn about the Boy Code.   Jen (left) & Janet (right) Links we mentioned (or should have!) in Episode 100: BoysAlive! (Janet's website) and consider joining the Boys Alive! Facebook group, too! BuildingBoys (Jen's website) and consider joining the Building Boys Facebook group, too! ======================== Oh goodness, watch the UNCUT version on Youtube! ======================== Got a question, challenge or concern you'd like Janet & Jen to tackle on a future episode of On Boys?  Please share in the comments below.
Mar 12, 2018