Collaboratively written by Taylor Gabbey, Adrienne Loffredo, Liz Mechan, and Macy Nesom
As a society, we are creating a cycle of suppression of emotions in boys. This, in turn, affects their relationships with significant others and their own children, creating cycle after cycle of severe mental health issues. Where do we start? We start with our own children. Validating emotions goes a long way. Below we have included a wonderful image from the Gottman Institute of things to stay instead of, “Stop crying”.
Kids feel the same emotions whether they are boys or girls. The difference is, how we as parents and society expect them to talk about and show their emotions or feelings.
We can normalize feeling talk. For example, instead of just asking, “How was your day?”, maybe also ask, “How are you feeling today?”. This allows room for children to name their emotions and work through them in a healthy way.
Here are some tips for parents of boys to keep in mind:
- Sensitivity indicates a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence).
- Boys and girls both experience sadness and hurt.
- Boys need help processing emotions – talking about how they feel – just like many girls do.
- Crying is a natural, physical response to sadness.
- Emotional suppression is linked to higher suicide rates beginning as early as age 16.
Knowing these facts, here are some things to try:
- Talk to your son(s) about their feelings.
- Read books about emotions and help boys learn to name their feelings.
- Be ready to listen when your son wants to talk about how he feels.
- Try to limit advice-giving.
- Develop regular family rituals that involve talking about feelings, such at dinner time or bedtime. When asking how someone’s day was, include questions about how they felt throughout the day.
Need some easy-to-read resources?