Friday, December 11, 2009

Wild Things - the Art of Nuturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas

I've read a bunch of parenting books - but, I must say that this one is one of my faves. When I read it, I don't feel like I'm wasting my time with a bunch of fluff. There are great sections on practical areas such as developmental stages, learning, relationships, discipline and more. The book is big - 340 pages - but it is well worth reading all the way through.
The book is divided into 3 sections: The Way of a Boy, The Mind of Boy, and The Heart of a Boy. I'll review each section seperately over the next few days.

Section One: The Way of a Boy
In this section, James and Thomas describe the different developmental stages that a boy goes through. And they give helpful tips for parents at the end of each description.

Age 2-4 The Explorer-They are very active
-They are aggressive and show love through things like wrestling. Tantrums can happen during this stage - which is often a way to communicate a desire like, "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired".
-They are curious and like to learn by doing+touching (kinesthetically).
-They are self-determined, and need some space to do things independantly.
-They need boundaries and re-direction rather than blanket statements. For example, instead of saying, "Stop hitting." - say, "It's not ok to hit your sister, but if you have some extra energy why don't you see how many times you can climb up and down the stairs in 2 minutes."
-They crave and do well in open space.
-They have a short attention span and tend to be internally unstructured - so they thrive in an externally consistent environment. A routined, ritualed schedule is a good thing at this age.
-They need understanding and unconditional love - just like all people need.
1. Don't confuse him. Set realistic boundaries.
2. Limit his choices.
3. Anticipate changes and announce transisitions in the daily routine.
4. Set a few straightforward rules that everyone can follow consistently.
5. Demonstrate how you would like hime to behave.
6. Have your discipline make sense.
7. Give him space to roam.
8. Model self-control in your words and actions.
9. Keep it short and simple.
10. Praise him like crazy when he does something right.

Age 5-8 The Lover- They are Tender and kind-hearted in this stage. There is a heightened emotional sensitivity; but it can come out in strange ways. There is often a know-it-all or fearful element to the emotional output that is streaming out during this phase.
- They tend to be much more obedient during this time.
- They have a big attachment to dad at this stage.
- They are very competitive.
- They need reprieve, relationship, routine, and regulation
1. Give him lots of love and affection.
2. Reward his good behavior.
3. Get him involved.
4. Focus him outward.
5. Help him with hygiene.
6. Take him to the movies.
7. Encourage his imagination.
8. Take him camping.
9. Plan family game nights.
10. Read "Parenting with Love and Logic"

Age 9-12 The Individual
- They are beginning to look deeply at growing up.
- They are experiencing big shifts in brain and body.
- They like to branch out some and break some rules to gain a feeling of power.
- They tend to do a lot of criticizing.
- They need supervision.
- They respond well to information and straight-shooting.
- They need involvment and positive outlets (i.e. frisbee, paintball, camping, rock climbing, etc..)
1. Be intentional with summers.
2. Keep the dialogue going.
3. Engage with him.
4. Enlist his doctor's help.
5. Get ready for an uncomfortable talk.
6. Make him read a book before he sees the movie.
7. Don't follow the crowd.
8. Keep him active.
9. Watch and discuss "A Christmas Story" together.
10. Fasten your seatbelt - there are some changes that can knock you down.

Age 13-17 The Wanderer- There is physiological chaos at this stage.
- They can tend toward arrogance.
- They will hopefully complete the process of individuation (forming his own distinct sense of self). They may go through several phases - goth, jock, pot-smoker, etc..
- They tend to be very argumentative.
- During this stage, he needs other good voices in his life (Not just you!)
- They need outlets still, and understanding.
- They need boundaries, and need you to survive the testing they will do your relationship.
1. Call your parents and apologize for what you put them through.
2. Enter his world.
3. Commiserate with him.
4. Don't panic.
5. Partner with another family.
6. Affirm your son as much as you can.
7. Feed him.
8. Suggest that he get a job.
9. Make regular dates with him.
10. Talk with him about dating and romance.

Age 18-22 The Warrior
- They figure out the life-responsibility things like college, job, living situation, friends, etc..
- They are reflective and searching for purpose.
- They can expereince ambivalent attitudes toward different areas of life.
- They need guidance and support from their parents still; but mostly they need freedom.
- They need their parents to be patient with them and give them our blessings.
- They need mentors.
1. Don't squash his dreams, even if they are impractical in your opinion.
2. Let him make mistakes and overload.
3. Recover the basics.
4. Welcome his girlfriends with open arms.
5. Do your homework. Know about movies and books he appreciates so you can talk about them.
6. Initiate him.
7. Get him off the sofa.
8. Remember, he's not 12 anymore.
9. Keep your door open.
10. Remember who is king of the castle. It's ok to keep some boundaries about what happens "under your roof".

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the summaries, I really like them. I wish I could read a short outline of every book before I invest the time to read it myself.
    What is the name of the book, by these same authors, that is about daughters?