Time to talk about it…It’s Just A Boy Thing – Teaching Your Boys Personal Boundaries. Check out these simple but helpful tips for teaching personal boundaries to your boys.
I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long time. I would never consider Jeremy and I super conservative or strict parents by any means. Sure we have rules, like all parents should, and we have expectations for both Jude and Teagan but nothing that would be surprising for someone who just meets us.
Let me give you some background on our experiences. Jeremy has worked in social services for over 10 years and I worked in the non-profit sector for adolescents who were abused. So overall, we have seen the worst of the worst which means I would consider us pretty jaded. We are a family that from the moment the kids could talk we used true words to describe body parts and have been very open with Jude and Teagan about their personal space and body. This comes from years of working with children who used crazy words to describe their body parts. Look people, no one has a cookie or a rose attached to their body. Call it what it is, even if the word makes mom blush! Maybe our jaded-ness and experiences can lead to some great discussions about some boy parenting issues that I am struggling with? I guess that is the hope here today!
Let me be clear, I am not an expert but just like any topic I like to share about on my blog I am sharing my experience and thoughts. Oh and while this is all about BOYS, I am sure a lot of this can be helpful for the girls in your family as well.
It’s A Boy Thing
Alright, who has said that when talking about grade school aged boys – It’s a boy thing? The burping, the farting, the stink, the wildness, and the “nuts talk”. Recently, Jude who is now almost 8 has had some interesting “boy experiences” at school. Jude is a very sensitive boy. He takes things very personal and holds on to those feelings. And honestly, when he doesn’t get his way or he feels like he is not being heard he reacts and reacts big and loud. It is something we are trying to really work on as a family. That being said, some of these experiences he has had at school MIGHT be exaggerated from his point of view but nonetheless we are not letting them go unnoticed.
So, let’s jump right in – NUTS talk! Yup, that’s were we are going today! Boys, for some reason even once they are adults those nuts all important to their daily life but there has to be boundaries. Jude had an experience at school with another boy who was trying to grab or hit his private area. Let me highlight that again – PRIVATE AREA! Parents, we shouldn’t just be teaching our children what their penis or vagina are but we should be communicating that they are just that – PRIVATE!
Look, they are 7 year old boys, I get it, and I don’t want to overreact but the fact is, my son did not like that feeling and felt like he had to defend himself from his classmate. That isn’t okay! Jude reacted and got himself in trouble – lesson learned I suppose. However, it is now our responsibility to teach Jude that yes, that was not appropriate for his classmate to do that to him. And yes, it is HIS private area. We also need to work on Jude’s reactions to these experiences – believe me we are trying!
Instead of our society jumping to “It’s JUST a boy thing” reaction, why aren’t we dealing with the real issue here. There is a huge push for the #MeToo movement and I love that because the movement has brought it out that people of all ages, races, genders, and walks of life have been affected by someone deciding that their PRIVATE area wasn’t so private. So sure, they are boys who are just “playing” but parents lets join this #MeToo movement in preparing and educating our boys on boundaries. And for the love of God – stop letting boys and men do things just because “It’s a boy thing”!
It’s Just A Boy Thing – Teaching Your Boys Personal Boundaries
Now that I have shared one of our experiences it is time to start sharing how we can teach our boys about personal boundaries.
1. Talk openly with your children about what their private parts are and the true names of those areas. From the beginning you must let your children know that those areas are exactly that – PRIVATE!
2. Body safety needs to be talked about as well. Explain that sometimes they might need help with tasks related to our bodies such as bathing or seeing a doctor. A parent or doctor might sometimes touch those private areas to clean or check them to ensure they are healthy. A parent or Doctor should always ask for permission before their touch our private parts and tell us why they are doing this. Permission needs to be talked about at an early age.
3. Teach them that it is okay to say “NO” to adults and other children. Teaching them that they are able to say no can be very empowering for them as they begin to exercise and assert their wants, needs and desires to the rest of the world.
4. If their words of “NO” aren’t heard, now they need to know what to do. React and protect. Hopefully this isn’t a physical thing but they must let a trustworthy adult know what happened. Give them the confidence and resources to find those trustworthy adults in their lives.
5. If your child has broken a personal boundary, it is time to talk about it. Start from the beginning – teaching them about private areas and why it is not okay to break those boundaries. Education is always the best way to approach any situation like this.
We have some work to do but first I think it is important to talk about this. As parents we have a job to do, and that is to help bring up great adults. This has to start at a young age and frankly we need to start with the blanket statement “It’s a boy thing”. No, it isn’t a boy thing, keep your hands to yourself, listen to your classmates, friends, peers, siblings’ request and remember your space is YOUR space!
Jennifer Force says
Great advice! It’s not ever okay for other people to touch kid’s private areas and I’m so glad you are talking to them about that and teaching them the true words. Ethan has always used the true words, now at 12 he giggles with them a lot, but he knows the right words.
Keep talking to both of them, but for sure keep up the it’s not a “Boy Thing” with Jude. It seems to normalize it and create a bad habit you don’t want him to have!
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I understand how people have come to say “it’s a boy thing”. Boys are generally more apt to take risks and be physical. But allowing disrespectful behavior just because they are boys shouldn’t happen. Of course, in the beginning, it’s innocent, but that’s the time to teach. That’s the time to make them understand.
My little man is also very sensitive and I want to help in in anyway I can. You have some great advise here and I think people should take notice of this. Boys will be boys, but when it comes to doing something to hurt someone else, that is just rudeness, not boys being boys.
robin rue says
My boys are constantly trying to throw things at each others balls and I DO NOT get the fascination. I think boundaries are super important and while it might be a little awkward to talk to them about, we NEED to do it.
Liz Mays says
I think these are really good strategies. It may be difficult to start teaching these kinds of lessons to the kids but it will do so much for their safety.
Melissa Chapman says
This was a very interesting post. my son has not come to us with any school issues yet and he is generally open with us and especially me. It might be time to ask him if this situation has come up.
Jasmine - Stylish Cravings says
Great tips for teaching boys about boundaries. I have five boys and this is an important topic to discuss early on.
As a mom to one boy, I am learning to teach my son right from wrong. I think every parent should have this talk with their boys.
This is such vital advice. I try my best to do these things with my son, but some this is truly valuable advice.
It’s so important to teach children healthy personal boundaries. Boys need to learn this, and girls too!
Some really important lessons and tips, not just for boys but all kids. Raising kids is hard and we need all the help we can get.
Autumn Reo says
Great talking and teaching points. I know some parents are so afraid to bring it up that they don’t know how to bring it up. This is a great post to teach parents some good tools on how to deal with and teach their children for their own protection.
Toni | Boulder Locavore says
I love this post! Really great points for moms of boys!
Allison Cooper says
This really is such important advice and my son, whose 9 is really getting to that age where these discussions need to start taking place more frequently and reinforced.
I am facing a situation right now because a boy was not taught to respect girls. I have been told this is “boys being boys”. It is not. If boys are allowed to think they are supposed to “try to cross the line” with a girl and then not stop when she says “quit” (there are different words for NO!) then we arent teaching our boys to respect girls. Grabbing a girl is never ok. Never. EVER.
I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. It is not okay!
As a mom of boys, I have taught them to respect others and more moms must have that serious talk not just once but at every opportunity that presents itself. I don’t believe in its a boy thing, it’s about respect for themselves and others. They know I hold them to a higher standard and expect them to always remember that.
I work with kids ages 3-12 on a daily basis. I witnessed a four year old boy in my care walk up to another child, and hit the other child on the bottom. I let it be known that it was completely unacceptable. We spoke about appropriate touches. It was a hard talk, but it was one that needed to be said.
I have another boy in my care who wears a shirt that says, “Boys will be boys (boys crossed out)— decent human beings!” Amen! Great read.
Ris Phillips says
Yes, yes, and more yes!
We have two boys and are working to build a foundation of communication, bodily autonomy, resilience, and affirmative consent. We give them the space to make decisions about their bodies: what to wear, when to stop eating, and who to hug/kiss (they say no to us, too, sometimes).
I’m in the middle of a blog series about this, called “Overwrite the Cycle: Parenting to Prevent Abuse.” Thank you for writing this!