"My Son is Lazy"
This is a cry of despair and resignation I am getting from an increasingly large number of parents. Is this true? What is happening to these boys? Are we really prepared to maintain such a negative view of some children?
So if Boys are Lazy then surely they will be lazy as Men?
Whereas you can always look at individual people and see negative hits in them the scope of this article is to identify if children are really lazy or if there is an underlying problem with what we are asking some boys to do. Therefore the focus of this article is a certain "type" boys and their future.
So if this statement is incorrect what is happening to these boys?
When does the problem start?
I have not heard comments about boys being lazy until they reach school age. Before this time parents tend to talk about the type of activities that their sons get involved in. They are often very active and boys often look very busy. Therefore this suggests that it is something that happens to them after they start school. So we need to look at what is happening to our boys when they hit school age. When we look at what is happening I do see a number of boys who protest or avoid certain types of activity. Perhaps to call them lazy might be a little judgmental. Perhaps as adults we should examine what we are expecting them to do.
What's Happening to the Boys?
If we look at two main things that I have identified from my experience of working with children we can identify the things that are likely to be having an impact. These two things are advertising and Schools. I am going to identify a series of influences that are likely to make boys "lazy." There are other factors that have an effect as well but, for the purpose of this article, we will focus on these.
Advertising and Marketing
When was the last time you watched the adverts pitched to your child? Lets focus on the toys that boys are being sold. First look at who they are aimed at. They are selling them to the child, not you the parent. This is because marketing firms know the effectiveness of pester power. It wins every time!
Now look at the instincts that they appeal to. One would hope that they were appealing to a boys desire to construct, build, role play and play active games so giving them the opportunity to develop positive and strong concepts of what it means to be a man. Unfortunately they do not appeal to these finer qualities. Instead they emphasize the more negative qualities of a man. His aggression, violence and destructive practices. And we let our boys watch this. This is a clear message to them about what they are and what they should grow up to become. Fortunately it is not the only influence.
Ok, so if you accept that marketing could be a problem, what is wrong with schools? They are there to help children. You are right and I do not believe that schools set out to make boys lazy but this might be unintentional consequence!
Gross Motor Skills (Big Movements)
Boys between 4 and 7 are more interested in their gross motor skills. This is big movements that they would use in ball games, running and play fighting. So in school, in order to satisfy government targets, we are asking children to start writing younger and younger when they might not ready.
I hear you say that that is the same for the girls and it is. However they tend to play differently. Watch them the next time you get a chance. I can guarantee that you will find some exceptions and these are important but I am asking you to identify patterns in play.
We all like stories do not we right? Well the answer is yes. But boys tend to prefer information or non fiction books and they are often very difficult for young children to understand because of the vocabulary. I suggest you pick one up and read it. Look at the words they use! They are usually published by junior publishers as they do not make much money for the publishers. They are sometimes unreadable for a child! I have searched for good information texts and I have found only a few that I would hold up as good examples.
Next time you go to your kids school count the staff. How many are men? Did you know that it is getting worse. At the time of writing BBC Radio 4 stated that 25% of schools have no male staff at all! They were including the care taker.
So what's wrong with that? Well children need positive role models. This is the easy answer and we all know this is true but it runs deeper than this. We do have different interests. Teachers tend to pick texts that they like and feel that they can make engaging. This is great but what happens when these choices tend to develop a theme. Books that appeal to girls? I know as a teacher that the books that I choose to use in class are significantly different to the ones that were used by the majority of the other staff in school. Would a similar problem in reverse be created if we had schools with to many male teachers?
You all know what naughty behavior is. Not sitting still, fidgeting, being distracted because the lesson is boring! Yep boys are just naughty. Or so they are sometimes told.
What can I do? – Three things to Help School and Undo the Effects of Advertising
So it's amazing boys turn out so well really. But seriously, you want to know what you can do to help your child counter these effects.
Get some good boy books.
Try to avoid books that appeal to the negative qualities of boys. There is a popular cartoon and book which has now been made into a film were the main character (a boy) is obnoxious and his brother is basically pathetic. This paints all the wrong pictures for boys. Read some children's literature and identify the strong characters. They are usually girls with boys playing a supporting or humorous role. There are great "boy" books out there and your son needs to read them.
Switch off the adverts
This is easier than it sounds. Watch CBBC or CBEEBEEs. If you are going to watch a commercial channel use a PVR or other recorder to skip through the adverts! Simple.
Get him some new toys!
But do not get ones to shoot, destroy and kill! There are many toys available that will encourage his desire to build, role play and create. However, do not ignore this side to his character. They must still learn about it and how to use it positively.
This is happening to my Daughter
I see this happening to girls as well but not on the same scale. This is because gender is not one or the other and many girls will experience similar problems to the boys. Try some of the same things you would with the boys? I love seeing, in my classes, the eyes of little girls light up when I read a gruesome passage of text from a great "boy book."
Getting the Best Tutor for Boys?
You can certainly try this. A teacher would be able to use books, texts and other stimuli that would appeal to the finer qualities of boys. Make sure they know what you want from them! Why not give them my article about best tutors.