International Day of the Boy Child 2024

Cool Boys: Managing anger and aggression.

I am excited to celebrate the International Day of the Boy Child, a day dedicated to recognizing the often-overlooked needs of boys.

As someone who has worked with both boys and girls I would say boys also need to be equally cared for. I won’t touch much on gender stereotypes yet but this I will say, boys have had their own share of the rotten steak.

Did you know that boys are more likely to be victims of violent crimes and 5 times more predisposed to end up in juvenile detention? They are also more likely to abuse drugs; and in some African countries, the boy child is twenty times more prone to imprisonment in contrast to girls.

These stats are unsettling and trash the notion that society is fair on the boy child. The truth is that society is unfair to both boys and girls. Society’s expectations of boys and men can be harmful, pressuring them to be tough, masculine, and competitive. They are often discouraged from expressing emotions or being vulnerable

Due to these expectations, anger and aggression are not rare. As a matter of fact they are venerated in the boy child. In the course of my advocacy I have seen how anger and aggression lead to broken relationships, damaged self-esteem and physical harm.

I recall a bully in my class back in secondary school, I will refer to him as Jim. Jim would always get into fights, unknown to us, it was his own way of crying out for help but we were pretty wrapped up in his unruly behavior.

Jim’s dad had strict rules and often referred to him as a “softie” at the slightest sign of vulnerability, making him feel like he needed to prove himself. Jim thought being tough would earn him respect and validation. But one day, he got into a fight with another boy that landed him in the hospital.

That was when he realized that his attitude was not only hurting others but also himself. With help from our class teacher he learned to express his feelings in better ways.

Another example is Tito, who struggled with aggression on the football field. He thought winning at all costs was the only way to prove himself and earn recognition. But after a few red cards and lost games, which cost his team the Principal’s Cup, Tito discovered that his behavior was hurting his teammates and learned that being a team player is more important than winning trophies.

These experiences taught me that anger and aggression is a chain reaction that reverberates through society. One way or the other, we suffer its effects. So, what can we do to promote a culture of cool boys who manage their anger and aggression in healthy ways?

First, let’s recognize these emotions as natural but how we express it matters. We can teach boys to identify their triggers, take a step back, and communicate their feelings in a respectful way.

Second, let’s encourage positive role models and mentors who demonstrate healthy anger management. As seen in Jim’s case his father was the reason for his aggressive attitude. Whether it’s a family member, coach, teacher, or mentor, having someone to look up to can make a huge difference.

Lastly, let’s create safe spaces for boys to express themselves without fear of judgment or shame. It can be a friendly conversation or therapy, whatever it is we need to support them in managing these emotions. That way, the coming generation of boys will learn to be better.

Managing anger and aggression is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and courage. And on this wonderful International Day of the Boy child, I say to everyone reading this, you have a role to play.

International Day of the Boy Child 2024

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