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Building happy boys: fostering wellbeing in childhood

The emotional wellbeing of boys is often overshadowed by societal expectations of strength and stoicism.
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The emotional wellbeing of boys is often overshadowed by societal expectations of strength and stoicism, it is important to recognise and prioritise the emotional health of the boy child. This is why May 16th is marked as the International Day of the Boy Child. It was founded in 2018 by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, a university lecturer from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It focuses on boys and their well-being, their needs to feel happy, healthy, and valued within family and community.

The International Day of the Boy Child serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of fostering happiness and wellbeing in boys, laying the foundation for a fulfilling and resilient adulthood.

Boys, like their female counterparts, also have emotional needs that must be acknowledged and addressed for their overall wellbeing. While boys are mostly brought up to suppress their emotions and adopt traditional notions of masculinity, they also possess the same capacity for vulnerability, empathy, and emotional expression as girls. It is important to recognise that boys experience a spectrum of emotions, including joy, sadness, fear, and anger, and to create safe spaces where they feel comfortable expressing and processing their feelings without judgment or stigma.

Open communication plays a pivotal role in nurturing the emotional health of boys, allowing them to articulate their thoughts, feelings, and concerns in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. Parents, caregivers, and educators must cultivate a culture of open dialogue where boys feel empowered to express themselves authentically and seek support when needed. By fostering trust, empathy, and active listening, adults can help boys develop emotional literacy, resilience, and coping skills to navigate life’s challenges with confidence and self-awareness.

Boys also go through stress and other challenges in life. There are different healthy coping mechanisms they can imbibe to manage stress, regulate emotions, and cultivate inner peace. The boy child should be encouraged to partake in physical activity, mindfulness practices, creative expression, and social connections that can empower boys to develop resilience and emotional intelligence. To manage stress, the boy child can also engage in hobbies, sports, art, music, and outdoor activities that provide them with outlets for self-expression, relaxation, and self-discovery, fostering a sense of mastery and wellbeing.

To build happy boys, parents, teachers, and caregivers shold create a safe and supportive environments at home, school, and in the community where boys feel valued, respected, and accepted for who they are and not for who they are expected to be. Parents should encourage open communication, empathy, and mutual respect in the home so as to build a sense of belonging and emotional security for the boy child. Model healthy emotional expression and communication skills as adults, demonstrating empathy, active listening, and constructive conflict resolution. Encourage boys to express their feelings openly and validate their experiences without judgment or criticism, nurturing their self-esteem and confidence.

Also, traditional gender norms and stereotypes that restrict boys’ emotional expression and reinforce harmful notions of masculinity should be challenged. Encourage boys to embrace their full range of emotions and interests, free from societal expectations and pressures to conform to rigid gender roles.

Boys should embrace positive male role models who embody qualities of empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence. Showcase diverse examples of masculinity that celebrate kindness, resilience, and authenticity, empowering boys to cultivate healthy relationships and positive self-image.

Parents should teach boys practical strategies for managing stress, regulating emotions, and coping with challenges in constructive ways. Encourage mindfulness practices, deep breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to help boys cultivate inner calm and self-control, empowering them to navigate life’s ups and downs with grace and resilience.

In addition, there should be peer support networks and friendships among boys, providing opportunities for social connection, collaboration, and mutual support. Encourage boys to cultivate empathy, kindness, and inclusivity in their interactions with others, fostering a culture of empathy and camaraderie. Celebrate the unique strengths, talents, and interests of each boy, recognising that diversity enriches our communities and enhances our collective wellbeing. Create inclusive spaces that celebrate boys’ individuality, cultural heritage, and personal achievements, fostering a sense of pride and belonging.

Lastly, ensure boys have access to mental health support services, including counselling, therapy, and peer support groups, to address any emotional or psychological challenges they may face. Normalise help-seeking behaviours and promote destigmatisation of mental health issues, encouraging boys to prioritise their wellbeing and seek support when needed.

Building happy boys requires a concerted effort from parents, NGOs, teachers, caregivers, and the society at large. By recognising boys’ emotional needs, parents, caregivers, and educators can help boys develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, and self-confidence needed to navigate life’s challenges and embrace their full potential. As we commemorate the International Day of the Boy Child, let us reaffirm our commitment to building a world where boys can grow, learn, and flourish in happiness and wellbeing.

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1 month ago

Excellent article
Congratulations 👍

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