Summertime ~ What to do with all that expansive energy?
By Janet Allison
Summer is here! The kids are home! WHAT do you do with them?! Boys, especially, can simply FILL the house with their exuberance and energy. And while there may be more outside time, there will still be those moments when he has to be indoors.
How can you channel his enthusiasm between your four walls?
When our brains were evolving and we were becoming the male and female beings that we are today , males traveled over 12 miles each day, hunting for their tribe. They were learning ‘on the hoof’ as they traveled and were expending the massive energy that testosterone had equipped them with.
When you wonder why your boy just can’t settle down …maybe he just hasn’t traveled his 12 miles for the day yet!
And if he is wound up, it may be that he is over-stimulated or over-whelmed (they often look the same). Either way, this translates as stress, which his body responds to by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, ramping up his energy even more. Water dilutes this cortisol cocktail in just 5 minutes.
What does he need at home? How can he walk those 12 miles in a socially-acceptable way?
Part of this begins with you and your attitude: do you celebrate and guide his exuberance, giving him opportunities to put it to good use? Or do you constantly nag and/or bribe and/or yell in an unsuccessful effort to keep him under control?
PHYSICAL FIRST! When he has been physical first, he is more able to talk and express his emotions, he wakes up his brain for learning, and testosterone is released gradually rather than in bursts (that may harm him, others, or the living room couch!)
Give him some acceptable ways to be physical inside:
- Chin-up Bar. This strong bar screws into the door jamb and becomes a test of strength or a swing. Wrap a strong cloth around it and it becomes a hammock for reading…
or a rope for climbing…
- Mini-trampoline. My friend has hers in the living room. He’ll talk more when he is jumping and he’ll be releasing tons of energy. (You might even want to try it too!)
- His room – clear it out! He needs lots of clear space for his big and imaginative play. Pack up the books he no longer reads, the toys he no longer plays with, and the clothes that are spilling out of his dresser.
- Kitchen – have ‘free’ time here (with clean-up rules, of course.) The kitchen is the first laboratory of science. Let him experiment! Making up recipes may seem like a waste of food (and, of course, use good sense here) but supplying him with flour, baking soda, vinegar, and food dye will supply hours of ‘learning’. Go to the Dollar Store and stock up!
- Meaningful work. Boys thrive on a sense of purpose and being useful. Help him develop that by giving him work that is useful and needed in the family. Yes, he can make his bed, do the laundry, take care of the animals, vacuum, etc. It may take a while to teach him but it will pay off – big-time – as he grows up!
OUTSIDE: Mother Nature is a fabulous teacher. Give him ample unstructured outside time and he will develop patience, delayed gratification, reverence, observation skills, as well as testing his strength and finding his limits.
- Check out Waldkindergartens – a new movement for the preschool-age child.
- Create a ‘safe-play’ zone. Join with neighbors to block off part of a street or alley, so children can roam freely. Host a block party and get to know your neighbors!
- Move your meals, story time, craft time outside. Create a tent or hammock for story time, naps, and playing.
- Tie a strong rope between two trees at about knee-height for a tight-rope.
- Give over part of your yard for digging, water, sand, bug observations and tunnel building. Straw bales make great forts, walls, slides, and more.
- Plant something! Anything! Use pots on the porch if you don’t have any other space.
- Make sure you are enjoying being in nature, too! If you love it, they will, too. And if you don’t – find someone or some organization that does.
Reflections for you – Take some time to pause and admire what he can do this summer that he couldn’t do last summer. Marvel with him about how much more he is capable of now.
And for older boys: is there a job he can do for pay outside the home? Boys used to be working by age 12 or 13, an excellent esteem builder and he’ll learn lessons only his community and other guides can impart.
Here’s to summer! Enjoy yourselves inside and out!
Host Janet in your community! For more information, contact her at 541.601.6902.
Janet Allison is an author, educator, coach and speaker. As a parent educator, Janet knows that while parents are often overly prepared for the arrival of the baby, they are often under prepared for the life long task of parenting. Janet helps parents gain the skills they need to raise children who are confident and capable. Janet is especially interested in gender intelligence and why males and females learn and communicate so differently. She has written, Boys Alive! Bring Out Their Best , a compendium of relevant research coupled with practical strategies. Through Boys Alive, the workshop she teaches and the book, Janet helps parents and teachers understand the unique learning and social needs of boys and how to create a supportive environment in which boys can thrive.