Last night I attended a presentation for parents and teachers on ‘Understanding Adolescent Boys’ by Dr. Ian Lillico.
Dr Ian Lillico is a father of three sons, a former principal of secondary school (recently retired), and international consultant in gender, boys education and middle schooling. He has done action research in gender throughout Australia and New Zealand from 1992 and in the Northern Hemisphere during his Churchill Fellowship in 2000. Dr Lillico has a PhD (education) and is a National Fellow of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders. He now provides professional development for teachers, parents, students and a host of other organisations throughout Australia and Internationally.
The two hour presentation was both fun and informative. Dr Lillico outlined the changes in society over the last few decades and the impact that this has had on boys. According to the figures boys are staying at home for longer, and delaying marriage, independence and having children till early to mid thirties.
Dr Lillico talked about strategies parents and teachers can use to get boys to talk about their feelings and keep the communication channels open between parents and sons. A good way to get boys to open up to you is to get them moving with you. This can be anything from walking the dog together, going fishing, playing some one on one basketball, even doing things such as changing a flat tyre.
Dr Lillico also expressed how vital it is for boys to receive as much physical contact as they can, hugs, pats on the back, some roughing up are all essential in a boys development. Dr Lillico joked that if you are a parent of a teenage boy and you are covered in bruises then your teenager really loves you.
Another point of interest that Dr Lillico made was how important that reading fiction was to boys, apparently this helps to develop their imagination which will play a huge role later on in life when they are faced with mental challenges they must overcome. Research has shown that boys who have some form of spirituality in their life be it through religion or meditation and those that have read fiction and there by have developed their imagination cope far better in stressful situations.
We also heard that the most critical age in a boys development was 12 years old and not 14 or 15 as once thought, the second most critical phase is 18, 19 & 20 years old. So parents need to be most vigilant around these critical years.
Dr Lillico also talked about boys and schooling and how a good teacher can make all the difference in a boys education. If a boy likes the teacher then he is more likely to apply himself to that subject, if however he does not like the teacher, or senses that the teacher does not like him, then he will not work for that teacher and will in turn do poorly in that subject.
Some handy books to read on the subject of Boys are:
Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph
Boys and their schooling by Dr Ian Lillico
Living with the willy by Mick Fisher
Also you can find lots of helpful information on http://www.boysforward.com