Monday, March 25, 2013

The Wonder of Boys: Part 3: How to Raise a Boy

Guiran opens the third piece of the book with an in-depth look at discipline.  He explain the importance of discipline in context with all parts of the boys life.  Discipline isn’t just about punishment or reprimand, but about helping the child feel good about himself.  Discipline needs the following:

  • consistency
    • If the behavior is immediately dangerous, stop it.
    • Identify the boy’s mistake and effects of his mistake; letting the boy know the error builds his confidence.
    • Provide a natural or punitive consequence
    • Consistently enforce the consequence
    • Ritualize the end of the consequence with a show of renewed acceptance like hugging
  • leadership
  • respect
  • variety
  • recrimination
  • spiritual context
  • choices
  • respect for feelings
  • authoritative structure
  • early, ongoing and adaptive use

Guiran also points out the that disciplinarian “provides two forms of leadership by both modeling and teaching through which the boy learns how to act and how to feel about himself in return. Then, as a result, the child learns to respect the disciplinarian.  The disciplinarian must distinguish between crisis discipline (sudden dangerous situations) and everyday discipline (daily challenges). It is imperative that boys see how their actions affect the larger world and population.  I really liked how Guiran specifies the difference in disciplining the action of the child versus the feeling. We need to teach the child his action is wrong, not the feelings he is experiencing.

Guiran identifies twelve techniques for healthy discipline:
1. Show the boy the effects of his inappropriate action
2. Redirect the boy’s aggressive energies from an animate to an inanimate object
3. Use a stern tone of voice
4. Give the boy or you a time-out when necesssary
5. Choose diversion and distraction first
6. Ignore his refusal and give sixty seconds to do the task
7. Negotiate and provide choices: this shows the boy we trust there is worth in his point of view and we are willing to explore it.
8. Take away privileges and tyos
9. Use positive expectations
10. Make things into games whenever possible
11. Focus boys on the specific challenge of tasks
12. Teach through mistakes and failures

How do these apply to adolescence?  The focus is not to let up when the boy is maturing but rather to help them refocus the boy’s energies, “ We give him structures for his energy. We give him constant activity and then time to recharge. We give him experiential learning through games and tasks. We give him work. We expect him to take up a lot of space in his gangly experiences with life, and we teach him, through task, work, game, activity, and experience how to use that space. Above all, we give him mentoring and supervision that respects and teaches his gifts, his visions, even his shadowy inner demons.”

Through adolescence, some specific techniques of discipline:
1. Be consistent and clear about expectations and punishments.
2. Ignore the youth’s acting out when it is harmless charter and dissing.
3. Do not allow harmful disrespect to go unnoticed or unchallenged.
4. Give primary authority to the style of discipline that is most effective: this means letting the fathers be in charge if that is what works best.
5. Build many of the expectations by talking with the youth.
6. Take away privileges as a primary means of family discipline.
7. Let the youth choose his own punishment when possible.
8. Never hit.
9. Spend as much time as possible with younger adolescents, doing what they like to do.
10. Help youths find games, sports, tasks, and other systematic structures in which to build their own disciplines.
11. Follow stages of discipline, especially reacceptance of the youth once the punishment is finished.
12. Be consistent.
13. For every piece of freedom you give a youth, give him a similar piece of of responsibility.
14. Always let him know you’re there for him.

Guiran closes his piece on discipline saying, “ the greatest gift a parent can give a youthful, then and adult child is respectable and trustworthy authority.”

Guiran moves on to speak about the importance of morality and spirituality in boys’ lives. We need the three tribes to come together to help teach our sons who to live their lives.   Everyone is responsible for the moral upbringing on the boys.  Guiran advocates use literature and stories of heroes or hero’s journey to teach these moral lessons.  Stories of kings, warriors, explorers, lovers and magicians can give boys and upbringing firm in moral lessons to give parents an opportunity to dialogue with their sons, “Showing (a boy) what happens to a hero who isn’t responsible empowers, teaches, guides him. He identifies with the hero and gains energy from the hero’s journey...showing him, in story, how to transform himself works much better.”

In terms of spirituality, Guiran explains that “when we speak of ‘spirituality’, we are speaking of universal connection, transcendent experience, our deep ‘sense of belonging’ in the world.” Guiran explains that for the parent to teach the child about spirituality, we must also identify where we are in terms of our own spirituality:
1. The WHO is about teaching boys who “God” is. Who created life?
2. The WHAT is about teaching boys what life is made of. Need to know the basic elements of being alive.
3. The WHERE is about teaching boys a sacred sense of place.  Get the boys outdoors- they are more in touch with their spirituality there.
4.The WHEN is about teaching boys to live in the NOW. There is nothing more important than slowing down and spending time together.
5. The HOW is about teaching creativity, and through it, mystery and faith.
6. The WHY is about teaching boys to search for meaning.

To help teach boys to be spiritual, we must practice spirituality by praying, modeling, conversing, recording our lives in journals, and giving boys spaces of solitude.

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