When it comes to life success, we need to use words our boys can hear

As a mother of three girls who comes from a predominately female family, I have a lot to learn when it comes to masculine language.

As I discussed in a previous blog post, my husband and I are facilitating a class for 5th graders about emotional intelligence and the girl spots filled quickly, the boy spots did not.

So I felt compelled to write about the importance of emotional intelligence when it comes to boys, specifically how they need as much support as girls when it comes to personal awareness.

I received many emails and comments about this post, mostly in full agreement.

But while there was agreement with underlying intention, there was much disagreement with my choice of words. 

Saying “emotional intelligence” or “emotional awareness” didn't capture the attention of boys and their parents.

And while at first this bothered me, made me think that it shouldn’t be this way and that both genders should appreciate the role of emotions in their lives, I also realized I needed to get over myself because this is where we are right now. 

And bottom line, it’s just semantics; the core of this class isn’t about discussing feelings, that’s just a piece of the puzzle; it’s really about self empowerment and life success.

So for the last week I’ve been on the search for better language – what do boys want to do better? What are their interests? What words resonate with them? 

And thanks to some forthcoming parents and young men I’ve learned some lingo, words that catch a boy’s interest: leadership, respect, sportsmanship, humor, excellence, power, integrity, trusting your gut, mental strength, confidence, and my favorite, becoming a social ninja.

And wouldn’t you know, the curriculum we developed for boys focuses on these skills and more, this is exactly what we were going for, we just didn’t know how to say it.

It reminds me of Habit Five in Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Peopleseek first to understand, then to be understood.

After talking with so many moms and dads I was reminded that regardless of gender, parents want their children to have a sense of self understanding and worth, but we don’t all speak the same language.

Sometimes we have to step back and listen to realize there is no disagreement, we all have the same hopes and dreams, but we have different descriptions of how to get there. 

The same words don’t resonate with everybody, and instead of believing there is only one way or becoming attached to our need to be right, we can trust there are many ways to effectively communicate a message

So right now I’m tweaking a 5th grade curriculum for all you promising social ninjas...the world awaits your humor, excellence, and leadership.

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