15 tips you can use now, to turn these statistics around

Compassion is the foundation for happiness, equality, peace and harmony. Teaching social emotional literacy skills around these values reduces the space for anger, hatred and violence. Compassion can change the world. Achievement will follow.

While to some degree, there’s a gender issue in the devastating headlines of late, it’s not helpful to generalise. The natural anger at all the precious lives lost, can change how we look at boys on the whole.

Boys and young men do feel that lost trust and will carry that shame on behalf of the hideous minority. As a gender, teenage boys are more likely to be anxious, unhappy and less likely to seek help when they’re struggling. Hence, boys and young men are highest on the global suicide statistics.

Boys begin their lives equally gentle, precious, innocent, vulnerable and kind hearted. Boys want to be loved and liked as much as girls. Boys want to fit in, do the right thing and be connected to friends and family as much as girls.

What gets in the way that can get them off track as young men?

Boys are generally slower to emotionally mature, often hide their learning deficits to uphold their pride, are less likely to ask for help, talk less about their feelings, are more impulsive and often less socially and emotionally intuitive.

They also tend to receive harsher judgement, criticism and punishment for their feelings and behaviour than girls.

Research shows to raise great men, boys who struggle are more needy of our time, empathy, understanding and gentle guidance.

Here’s a handful of research based tips that parents can use to raise boys to be great men…because that’s what boys are waiting to become.

• Raise them with strong character values such as kindness, honesty and equality. Don’t go on about it though – just live by example and praise them whenever they demonstrate these values (or whichever values are most important to you).

• Provide them with unconditional love and affection. They need acceptance, hugs and cuddles to thrive.

• Encourage them to be the person they’re meant to be, no matter what you think they should be. When they know you love them for who they are, they feel calmer and therefore less frustrated and angry.

• Express love and warmth daily.

• Forgive their mistakes while keeping your values and boundaries clear. Use natural consequences if necessary and don’t stay mad! The silent treatment freaks boys out – actually, it freaks everyone out! Role model talking through disagreements and try not letting them go to bed when you’re still mad at them. They’ll stew for hours.

• Help them find something positive they believe in and feel inspired by. Support them to follow it – even if it’s not your own belief or value.

• Build their independent living skills as early as possible. Boys can act helpless and clueless because they are often less mature and organised by nature of their brain! They need us to expect the most and guide them towards independence so they can cook, clean, find their stuff, do their own shopping, be hygienic and function without us long before they move out of home. These skills are vital for their confidence, happiness and resilience.

• Provide plenty of opportunities for them to build and practice empathy and social skills. That means helping out, practicing kindness, supporting charities, caring for pets (or other people’s pets if you don’t want that added layer of responsibility) understanding world issues (using age appropriate explanations!)

• Speak gently to them. Your soft, loving voice melts their hearts.

• Encourage them to feel and express their feelings. The tough love / boys need to toughen up idea is rubbish! It’s also scientifically linked to what goes wrong when boys become men.

• Support them to develop skills in handling feelings constructively. Generally speaking, to handle feelings well…get them good at talking, moving and engaging in things that bring them joy (not devices which are counterproductive and shut feelings down!) While devices will have a place in children’s lives – just tread carefully!

• Time outdoors, moving and engaging in HEALTHY risk taking.

• Male mentors. Dad, Grandpa, Uncle. If they don’t exist, borrow someone else’s! Boys need great men to look up to.

• Teach accountability and repairing any harm done. Don’t make excuses if they’re breaking rules, bullying or hurting others. They know when they have done wrong and if they’re not held accountable they’ll either feel guilty or turn into someone without a moral compass and that won’t end well…

• Be on top of their learning. If they’re struggling, empathise, let them know they’re not alone and get them as much help as possible. It’s vital for their ability to regulate their emotions as well as build their self esteem and confidence.

Most of all, remember the same rules apply to girls and boys. Treat others how you want to be treated, be kind and compassionate and when you’ve stuffed up, be accountable and make it better!

Here’s to a more compassionate world, one child at a time. We can do this x

Madhavi Nawana Parker of Solutions For Kids is an Author, Keynote and Public Speaker, Mindset Coach and Mother of three. To book her for a session at your school or health care/ community setting in 2019 please email solutionsforkids@outlook.com

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