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Boy-Friendly Environments

Once you understand that an energetic boy problem is really a problem of a boy's inability to adjust to environments and acquire habits that are basically at odds with his nature, finding solutions may seem harder rather than easier.

Boy-Friendly Classrooms

A boy's academic achievement before third grade is likely to dictate how well he will do throughout his school career, so it is imperative that your son is successful early on. One solution is to delay entry into kindergarten. Some schools have boosted boys' success by establishing different cutoff birth dates for boys and girls.

Making it school policy for boys to attend two years of kindergarten instead of one to give them an extra year to catch up to girls is another solution, since it is more common for boys than girls to repeat kindergarten. Another solution being tested in some school districts is to put boys and girls in separate classrooms for reading and language arts. Anecdotal reports indicate that this arrangement has met with considerable success. Besides the impressive improvements in reading achievement, boys' attitudes toward reading and their self-confidence are reportedly better, too.

Boy-Friendly Space

Ask your boy for suggestions, and he might recommend stripping the living room of furniture so he can use it for basketball practice, getting some mats for tumbling, installing a punching bag so he can work out his anger, and putting in a hardwood floor so he can play tag. Those are actually excellent suggestions! Boys simply must be able to run and jump. They must not have people criticizing them for acting like boys. If there is nowhere else for your son to play and he's climbing the walls and bouncing off the ceiling anyway, why not search for some creative alternatives?

The living room wouldn't be a comfortable place to watch television and entertain guests if you turned it into a playroom, but television really isn't good for kids, and your son's need for a livable space is undoubtedly more pressing than your need to entertain an occasional guest. Years ago, you toddler-proofed your whole house for him; why not boy-proof one small living room now?

Converting the living room to a playroom is definitely a drastic step and may seem too ridiculous to consider. But if you have no basement and your son's opportunities to play outside are limited, and if you're considering medication to get an energetic, distracted boy to settle down and concentrate, maybe it's time to be creative about the space in the house. Bedrooms can be converted, too. Get rid of the bed and put the mattress on the floor. Put up a hoop for Nerf basketball, clear out as much other furniture as possible, put away breakable objects, close the door, and let him play.

Tween boys do want to please. It's when they feel that to make their parents happy they would have to stop being themselves that emotionally healthy boys give up trying. Finding solutions may not be easy, but the time spent is well worth it.

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From The Everything Tween Book Copyright © 2003, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


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