I talked recently in one of my workshops about some of the ways testosterone affects boys on a physical and emotional level. In this post I will give a short-list of some of those, and over the next several days offer suggestions for ways childcare providers can turn the power of “T” to their advantage. If you don’t work in childcare, adapt the ideas or get in touch with me about your individual situation.
In boys testosterone is associated with:
- A tendency toward risks
- A tendency to compete/boast–fight/argue
- Linear problem solving (there’s only ONE way rather then choosing from multiple solutions)
- Immediate release (no delayed response)
Those things can all cause problems, but testosterone can also inspires boys to:
- Protect and serve
- Be Loyal
- Stand Up For Others
- Get Stuff Done
- Take Action/initiative
- Fight for a Cause
- Make a Difference
- Go on a Mission.
- It can relate to executive function, the ability to break something down, figure out the steps, and make it happen.
All of these are good things if we can steer them in the right direction. Here’s one practical idea.
Idea #1: Give him a mission. You can do this in simple ways or complex ways. Just telling a boy that you have a special mission for him can be a great way to get some help with a little job. It also gives him a sense of purpose and accomplishment. He will be proud that he has helped you. But you can make it much more fun than that.
I talked to a provider who had a problem with a wet area on her playground. The boys were ALWAYS magically drawn to the water and mud and she was sending them home with muddy clothes daily during the springtime. It’s great to let boys play in the mud sometimes, but it’s okay to know when to say when.
I recommended that she have a talk with the boys and tell them she needed their help. Tell them that she had a special mission for them. It was their mission to keep all the kids safe from “quicksand mud hole.” She asked them for some ideas and if they could help her teach the other children how to stay clear of the water.
They really got into it. They made yellow triangle caution signs, put up cones and ropes, talked to all the kids about the “danger,” and in general became the mud hole lifeguards. Naturally, they had to set an example for the others as well. In the end, the number of plastic grocery bags being sent home full of muddy, wet clothes was greatly reduced, and the little guys got to have a meaningful role they could be proud of.