The Boys’ Room: Organized

:: This post on organizing the boys’ room was mostly written months ago.  Though it may be old news and the banner’s grip to the ceiling has been overcome by mysterious gravity pulls that most certainly do not have anything to do with little boys’ pulling, ahem, the good part is that I can tell you how well this method has worked. ::

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-42

A few weeks ago, I found a couple bins for the boys’ room.  I was sooo tickled because they were the colors I’ve been looking for and in the five dollar-ish range.  New storage was inspiration enough for me to go through the boys’ room purging some, but mostly sorting, organizing and labeling.

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-14

Her sentiment: I’m pretty sure that if I find the perfect organizational system, we’ll finally be able to keep the boys’ room neat.

His input: Good luck with that.

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-41

We keep things pretty simple when it comes to toys. Sometimes I see pictures of 20 or more bins of toys in children’s rooms. It looks like a fun place to play for sure, but that is so not going to happen here. There are sooooooo many toys available these days and they all look like soooo much fun.  You would think if children had a lot of variety they would play for hours. Surprisingly, having lots of toys doesn’t necessarily mean that children will be happy with their toys for longer.

I have learned that, as in so many other areas of life, less is more.  My philosophy is that having a simple collection of well loved toys keeps children busy and happy, encourages learning, and develops their imagination. If they get bored with their toys–which happens almost never–they can draw or play outside or take a bath or help me with what I’m doing.

When I tally toys, I realize that we still have a LOT. I’m not even sure I should consider this as keeping it simple.  Our toy list looks something like this:

Our toy collection:

In their room~

1 collection of Legos

1 bin of trains

1 bin of trucks and tractors and machines

a playmat with a road system

In the living room~

1 box of blocks

1 bin of animals

a basket of miscellaneous items


In the hall closet~

Play Dough

board games and puzzles

An art box with a collection of crayons, colored pencils, 1 box of markers, paint, chalk, scissors, glue, stickers, paper

In the attic for occasional rotations out~

Lincoln logs


large trucks they don’t play with when they’re out all the time

We also have~

bath toys

outdoor toys

Probably a few other toys I’m not remembering

So why, why, why if don’t have a myriad of toys do we have a mess all the time? You know that saying,

A place for


and everything

in its place?

Whenever I have a problem area where mess just happens and then has babies and multiplies, it’s because the things do not have a place of belonging!

I’ve noticed this all over the house, and I’m trying to–slowly–designate a home for everything.  If it doesn’t belong anywhere then I need to consider whether or not I should keep it.

Oooookay.  Deep breath.  I got a little side tracked there.  So I was going to tell you how I refreshed the boys’ toy system in their room.  I’m SO excited about this because their room has not been despairingly messy for awhile.


When I was looking over their room, I realized that their magazines and activity books and notebooks were always in a mess.  I decided to use a few magazine organizers to see if that would do the trick. (Spoiler alert: it did!)  

At least a year ago I had gotten a few rolls of wrapping paper for $1 a piece at IKEA. Originally I had been planning to cover cardboard boxes to use in these storage cubbies, but surprise, I’d never managed to find three boxes that fit into this space.  The magazine organizers were an odd collection that were busy and non-cohesive. Covering them made them work for the room and made me just giddy with happiness. I love the owl print! 

Wrapping one of the boxes with Ian who wanted to be with me. Like WITH me.  :)

Is this what they mean by attachment parenting? ;)

C Smucker Photography l DIY organize kids rooms toys

So clean and streamlined and in fun colors.  This makes me wish I’d have a before shot, so you could see the difference.

The box of trucks~

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-29

The box of trains~

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-28
I don’t recommend these bins. One of the handles is already pulled off after a few weeks of gentle use.

A cutie pie enjoying the magazines~

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-7

Magazines, Notebooks, Activity books~

The boys all hate coloring, :'( so I got rid of all coloring books that don’t at least have dot-to-dots or something else they consider fun.

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-31

I’ve also learned that labeling is KEY to keeping a spot organized. Whenever I have labeled bins they stay categorized for months longer than when I’ve assumed people would remember which things go into which bins. These labels were some I had downloaded from Better Homes and Gardens and added my own text–very simple.  I also covered them with contact paper and hot glued them to the boxes, so I have hopes that they will last.

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-8

I love his expression. :) C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-17

What’s great about organizing is how it makes the toys seem new again.  The boys have looked and looked through these magazines since the re-do. 

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-24

 We used to store our Legos in a big bin.  Every afternoon there would be this constant digging and digging and digging  for that one certain piece. (The sound is especially delightful when you’ve had a frazzling morning and are excited for quiet hour) I had seen other people organizing Legos by color, so I decided to try that method.

[May I interrupt this organizing conversation to say that Legos are the BEST toys for boys?!  We love them.  Seth, one of the guys who works with Steve, gave the boys a HUGE collection that he had as a boy.  The boys have played with them for countless hours. If you're ever looking for a gift for a nephew or little friend--let Legos be your go to.  The boys have gotten several sets since then as gifts and they are always the most excited ever.]   2013 July-48

From ^^^ to  this:

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms l Lego storage-4

Let me just say, so MUCH better. They can find specific pieces so much more easily now.

Yes, it is still a constant struggle to stay on top of picking up Legos.  In some ways they dread putting them away more because they can’t just dump them all into one big space.  On the other hand I will often designate certain colors to certain boys (Ian, you pick up blue Legos, Paxton pick up red Legos….) which helps keep them focused on a task vs. the job looking overwhelming.

The box slides under the bed when in storage:

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms l Lego storage-5

The Legos have been organized like this for months. The whole Lego situation was hugely improved, but I still kept finding strays here and there and in random toy containers.  Finally I realized that because it took so much effort to pull out the box, open the lid, and drop in a Lego when picking up toys they were just getting dropped into any old box.  I can even understand that.

Soooo… we set a cup on Zachary’s desk to catch the strays.  I think this is working, too.  I had told them to be sure to empty it before they start playing with Legos, but I doubt that’s being kept up with.  Still, emptying the cup now and then is no big deal!

[Since writing this I realized that adding the job of organizing the Lego box should be added to the boys' weekly chore list to stay on top of the stray pieces that get left on the bottom of the box instead of in their cups.  When they do that job, they can first empty the Lego cup that holds stray pieces.  Sa-weet.]

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-36

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-37

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-39

A bin for stray toys who don’t have their own category~ C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-48

Now for the school and closet end of the room.

C Smucker Photography l DIY organize kids rooms

Instead of a dresser we keep the boys’ pajamas and undies in the bathroom, and all the rest of their clothes get hung in the closet.  Because we homeschool (no uniforms/school clothes) and don’t need to wear dressy clothes to church, their clothes are categorized very simply–stay-at-home clothes and going-away-clothes. The clothes for staying at home are clothes that can get muddy and the jeans might have holes in the knees. :)

It is Zachary’s job to put away all the hanging clothes.  We’re working on developing neat habits. :) Ian can put away his staying-at-home clothes and shoes and socks.

We also keep a box in the closet for clothes that have been outgrown but are still in good condition to pass down to the next brother.  When it gets too full (as pictured) :) I take the clothing boxes out of storage and divvy them up.

C Smucker Photography l DIY organize kids closet

Zachary’s school area.  At the beginning of the year we worked up here all the time. The last few weeks we’ve been working on school downstairs, but everything still gets stored here in their room.  (See: this was written before the 2013-14 year was over)

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-52

C Smucker Photography l DIY organize kids rooms homeschool

These printable morning and evening routine charts {link} are from I Heart Organizing.  I adjusted them a little in Photoshop to fit our schedule.

C Smucker Photograpy  l DIY organize kids rooms-56 

 After a few weeks of the new clean up, their room has stayed nicely organized.  They clean up their room every afternoon as part of their afternoon chores, but it is never a disaster.  I’m quite happy with how it’s been working!

Every day the boys do a light room clean up during afternoon chore time.  On Thursdays their room is a bigger job when clean areas that might get missed such as under the bed.

::Update.  Yes!!!  Small selection of toys + specific toy bins + labels + routine clean up is still working.   They are little boys and their room is not neat all the time, but neither has it hit disaster zone.  I continuously purge toys that don’t get played with and they really do not miss them.  Overall I feel like this organization has been a win.  They do a big clean up once a week, and I lightly re-organize their closet every few weeks. I am super happy with how manageable this has become for them.::


On My Mind

::WHERE is my phone? ::

It’s been missing for two days and counting.  The last I remember having it is in the kitchen just before bedtime.  After that I checked on Zachary in the living room (because he was sick) and went to bed.  We’ve searched and prayed and cleaned and searched and offered $$ rewards and still it is just lost.  I lose a lot of things, so I expect it will show up sooner or later.  However, I really MISS my phone.  Also, if you’ve tried to reach me the last few days I haven’t gotten your message. [Edit: It's been found!!]

:: Rachel came!::

A few weeks ago Steve walked into the kitchen after the end of the first week of homeschool being back in session.  It was another day of the house still being a mess when he got home, dinner not being ready, the counters being piled full of dishes, and me moving slowly trying my best to do as much as I could while putting effort into holding it together physically.  He was like, “So have you talked with Susan about when Rachel can come?”

We had talked about having someone come help us again, but I’d been doing a little better so not feeling as desperate.  When I don’t have a lot going I can do okay with getting through the basics, but add in school and guests and I was just not able to keep up.  I needed that prompt to know that I really did need help.  Thankfully it worked out for Rachel to come help with housework and childcare for a week and a half, and we are loving having her here.

Last night I walked past calm, sleeping children through a clean house, into a clean kitchen to make pizza and I thought back to that question a few weeks ago  Yup, having Rachel here has made a huge difference.

::Faithful people encourage others::

There’s a sweet, older lady at church who blesses me so much.  She shows up every Sunday with joy on her face.  She loves to talk. Sometimes it’s difficult to follow her thoughts, but the thing that’s most obvious is that she loves God and she loves people.  Last week I told her she encourages me and she said, “Yes, that’s what I want to do.  Every day I go out and I’m ready to praise Jesus.” I know sometimes older people feel as though their life work is over and they don’t have much to offer, but seeing someone offering praise even when life isn’t easy gives me courage to do the same.


Loving Summer


Oh, this has been such a beautiful summer!!

1. Ian reading at Barnes and Noble 2. Pax and Zac reading while waiting at the chiro, 3 Pax being cute 4. Perfect puddle and boy combination 5 Being a bat 6. Enjoying the park 7. Playing with friends at IKEA 8 Chasing our kitten that lasted for, um, six weeks or so 9. Storytime at the library 10 Finding Nourish in a shop 11. Pax playing with moon dough 12. Steve hoisting Ian, so he could see a construction scene.

Slow mornings, extra time for snuggling with little sleepyheads, swimming every day for weeks, soaking up sunshine, popsicles, hours spent reading, unusually pleasant summer days and green grass, storytime at the library, playing games in the front yard, eating watermelon, schedule free days, later bedtimes, extra reading time, and meeting up with friends.

1. Boys building with the Legos our neighbor gave for Ian’s birthday 2. Friends! 3. Steve hard at work 4. Ian jumping (love how this picture feels–so happy) 5. Pax on the scaffold–I walked into the workshop and heard a quiet, “Mom, I need help.” 6. Dad the Great giving two boys a ride at once 7. A ring the boys found in our backyard after the arrest. 8. Zachary with the fantastic sandwich Kelly from Thomaston had described to him and he finally got to eat after dreaming of it for weeks 9. Street corner scene 10. The bridge we walk to the park.


[ I loved this post on moms enjoying all of summer.]

1. Pax with his cute friend Caytlyn, 2. Every summer God sends me hydrangeas across the street in a vacant lot. 3. Addition to the seating area in the front of our house. (one plant survives) 4. walking 5. Burnt apartment across the mission. 6. Zachary with Aslan 7. Atlanta skyline from I20 8. Playing at a splashpark a few miles from here, 9. A friend gave us Popsicles that these two enjoyed daily as long as they lasted.

I had thought summer would be productive and a time to teach new skills. I’d teach the boys to wash their faces every morning and comb their hair.  They would learn to fold laundry neatly, and…well, there was actually a whole list of jobs they could learn to do since I would have time to work side by side with them.  It would’ve been so good and I know I’d appreciate it during the school year.

1. Ready to head to the lake, 2. The babes and I, 3. This is what summer feels like, 4. Long naps 5. Ready for VBS, 6. First words, 7. The moonsand again. I want to be the mom who lets her children play like this daily, but I don’t want to clean this mess even weekly. 8. Street shot, 9. Having fun in 2 inches of water while waiting for the pool to be set up and drinking mint tea.

But…well, sleeping in and leisure and carefree days are not only fun, they feel like therapy after months of pushing through each day to make sure we finish everything that needs to be done. Yes, we would be glad to have more skills learned, but we’ll also be glad for the MaNy happy memories we’ve made this summer and the calm we’ve felt in spite of some crazy busy weeks.

1. Texas! 2. Sword built by Zac turned to a cross to represent Jesus 3. Summer salads 4. The corner store 5. Fun in Daddy’s workshop, 6. Afternoon quiet time is better with books and kitty 7. Skyline + sunset love, 8. Precious computer time, 9. We got to pick blueberries(!!) with a friend(!!) and she picked two gallons for us(!!)

August has taken our lives by storm and the rest of our summer will be packed.  Summer has been good, though, and I’m so glad we had time to enjoy it.

1. Walking with the family, 2. Zac 3. Zachary in his glory in the Lego piles at a homeschool convention. 4. The three boys we love, 5. Burnt apartments again 6. Poolside!! He didn’t sit for long. 7. Fan fun 8. A very rare and special date night thanks to a guest who offered to keep the boys for us!! 9. I value being able to serve healthy foods to out family

An Arrest at Our House


The evening was calm–we had a friend over for dinner and we enjoyed lots of fresh vegetables from the country our friends had brought up the day before.  Later our family was all hanging out in the living room reading, writing, or playing a part in Ian’s bat party when there was a loud knock on our back door.

Steve and I both looked at each other thinking, “Whaaaaat?!”  Our back yard is fenced in and the front door is so obvious that it wouldn’t make sense for someone to bypass it to go to the back.  The boys all three ran toward the kitchen to go see who was there since visitors are always exciting to them.

Neither Steve nor I is naturally fearful, but we both had a check in our spirits and simultaneously told the boys to wait.  Steve went to see who was there.  The knocking on the kitchen window was louder now.

Being curious, I looked into the kitchen and remember seeing the top of a head and a wad of cash in the hand of someone jumping up and down while talking with Steve through the closed window.  At first I thought it was someone begging for help, but the cash didn’t make much sense.  I couldn’t even tell if it was a child or an adult.  Steve would normally open the door or window, but this time he was keeping them closed making the situation seem like a little suspicious.

The boys were getting a little scared and I started thinking of lots of possibilities.  I didn’t know if this person was alone or with others. Was he armed? We all huddled in the bathroom which is the only room without windows.  I prayed loudly and confidently claiming the power of God to protect us.  I didn’t feel anxious, but my legs were like jelly.  I was holding Paxton and the other two boys were clinging tightly to me.  We prayed that God would give us a picture of the angels protecting us.

After we felt calmer we walked out again to see what was happening. (I’m too curious!) To try to get a better picture of what was going on, I looked out the front window to see if there was a broken down vehicle or anyone else.  Instead I saw policemen searching.  Ooooh….

We’ve gotten to watch a few police chases on our street before, so suddenly I knew what must be happening.  I ran out onto the porch and told them there was a man behind our house.

{Insert Steve’s perspective: I hurried to the kitchen to find a man desperately banging on the window yelling, “You gotta help me! The cops are after me!” I asked him why and he kept repeating that I needed to help him. He pulled out a wad of cash, then his necklace which he claimed had real gold, begging me to hide him. I kept asking him why he was running from the police. He finally said that he had beaten a man. Not knowing if that was the truth or how dangerous he was I told him to wait there and I would come around the house to meet him. I was not going to open the door and allow him inside with my family. I don’t think I have ever seen a look of desperation like his when he realized that I was not opening the door. He heard the police who had arrived by that time. He began beating on the window, trying to pry it open. Unbelievably he did not attempt to open the back door which was only a few feet from him, unlocked.}

Steve had walked to the front of the house expecting to go outside and talk with the man, but he didn’t want to open the back door and give the man a chance to come inside.  By the time Steve was walking to the front door, I’d already told the police the man was in the back and they were swarming our back yard.

We looked out the windows to watch what would happen.  A policeman noticed and asked Steve if our crawl space door had been open earlier.  It hadn’t been.  They immediately drew their guns and called for him to surrender then went inside to arrest him.


our safe little world, our cozy house, our innocent boys, our focus on godliness, and

this dangerous world–also ours because we live in it, but not ours because we aren’t a part of it–where there is fear and crime and hatred and looking out for oneself more than others  


There was a sense of relief once the man running was in handcuffs, but for me there is also a sense of sadness at seeing a man’s freedom stripped from him.  I know it’s only fair and it’s a result of a lack of freedom in his heart.  Still I appreciate that the police treated him with respect–something I’ve observed more than once during arrests.

The search wasn’t over after the arrest.  The man had been pulled over for a traffic violation, but fled the scene instead of stopping.  Because of that, the police were suspicious he was driving a stolen vehicle. They continued searching our area until at least 11:00 when they finally found the vehicle.


One neat part of this evening is how our neighbors pulled together.  Our neighbor who we talk with most had seen the man running down the hill across from us and tried to call to warn us.  We stood outside chatting with her and Steve also talked with some other neighbors, too.  It’s so neat to see little bits of connection happening over time, so that when something like this happens we rally together trying to look out for each other.

Zachary was also quite pleased that Bear played a role in the arrest.  Someone had seen the man jump over our back fence.  Our back yard is divided into two sections.  A small part of it is our back yard, and the rest is over grown and Bear’s territory. Just beyond that are a couple vacant lots that are very overgrown and perfect for hiding.  Apparently he jumped into Bear’s section, saw the dog and jumped right over the fence into our back yard.  From there he was easily cornered.

And my favorite detail in this story~ The boys had a difficult time settling down to sleep after all that excitement.  Even though the police are “the good guys” it can be unsettling for little ones to see so many guns and so much action right outside their windows.  They weren’t fearful anymore after we’d battled through it earlier, but just unsettled even though it was really late and they were tired.

We asked friends to pray for peace of mind and sleep free from nightmares for them, and so many people covered us with prayers. Within minutes all three boys went from restless to sleeping.  They all three slept very well and woke up happy and free this morning.  God’s care for us is so amazing every time!

Since living here I have been thankful so many times that fear is not a huge struggle for me. I have other battles, but because of our surroundings it’s a big blessing to not be easily afraid.  The only niggling fear I have now is that we assisted in the arrest and obviously the man arrested knows where we live.  It’s the kind of thing we need to commit to the Father and trust that He will continue protecting our family.  We would so appreciate you also praying about both protection and peace of mind.

We are still new enough to the city that this feels rather big and exciting to us. We are so thankful that we are all safe.

Recommendations: Child Edition

A Delicious Treat to Bake:

Blueberry Crisp   <links in green

We’ve been so enjoying this recipe that stood out as a potential favorite from the pages of Bread and Wine.  After a fun day picking blueberries with a friend,  we’ve been devouring fresh blueberries.

This is such a great dessert for children because 1) There isn’t much sweetner, 2) It’s easy for them to make 3) They might not like it very much and their mama can have more.

Variations: I used brown sugar instead of maple syrup and replaced the olive oil with butter for myself or grape seed oil for Ian.  The almond flour can be replaced by white or wheat flour. We’re not gluten free, but the almond flour adds extra protein which is always good. Also, I’m out of nuts so I used shredded coconut instead. Tonight I doubled all the crisp ingredients except for the sugar so that I can eat it as a baked oatmeal substitute in the morning.


An Educational Website:

Kids National Geographic

The boys have learned so much information about animals.  They teach me facts!



Really, Really Great Gift Ideas:

Non-toy Gifts

Classes, membership, subscriptions, activities…all such wonderful ideas.  The last two years we were given a membership to zoo Atlanta and I thought it was one of Thee nicest gifts!  We are only ten minutes away, so we could pop by for an hour our two throughout the year. One year Zachary got either Ranger Rick or My Big Backyard for a birthday gift which he loved.  The gift time might not be so much fun at the birthday party, but gifts that keep giving all year long are winners for sure.




A Fun, Simple Craft for Boys:

Paper Rockets

Oh, children in general.  It’s just that our boys have very short attention spans when it comes to crafts (boo-hoo. I love doing crafts with kids), so finding one that everyone loved was a win all around.

14 June-177514 June-173814 June-175514 June-1757

The Book I’ve Been Suggesting Everyone Read:

Wild Things the Art of Nurturing Boys

My friend Hannah recommended this book to me, and I in turn have been recommending it to every mother of boys.  It would be helpful for anyone who teaches boys,ministers to boys, parents boys, or loves boys. In other words, You know a boy? Read Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. (=

The description from Amazon: Playing off the themes in the Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, this informative, practical, and encouraging guide will help parents guide boys down the path to healthy and authentic manhood. Wild Things addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of a boy, written by two therapists who are currently engaged in clinical work with boys and their parents and who are also fathers raising five sons. Contains chapters such as “Sit Still! Pay Attention!” “Deficits and Disappointments,” and “Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage.”

Here are several excerpts~

The Lover
As with Explorers, redirecting a lover’s energy and intensity toward something useful can be a very helpful technique.  Along with continued redirection, boys in the Lover sate need a great deal of regulation.  Though Lovers need affirmation and attention, they also need to have their unwanted behavior named and reprimanded. “Jimmy, you threw a rock at the car. That is destructive.” Naming unwanted behavior helps a boy learn to control his impulsiveness. “Tanner, you took a cookie when I told you not to. That is deceitful.” Notice how this feedback is straightforward, accurate, and specific. It’s not belittling or personally attacking: “I can’t believe you. You’re so selfish.” It’s not expansive: “How many times do I have to tell you?” “You never listen when I talk to you.” I can’t believe you did that.” It’s not nagging: “Oh, come on. Please…” Instead, effective feedback is short, firm, and measured.

Frequently , after this kind of interaction, a boy will begin to cry or be sad and need a hug or other affection. If there is any sign of authentic remorse, most often no further discipline is needed, and it’s time to immediately redirect his energy to a positive way of doing penance. “Tanner, come into the kitchen with me, and we’ll make some more cookies together and give them to your grandfather. He will like that.” He’s been named, and he’s been redirected. Job done.
If a boy doesn’t show signs of remorse, it is imperative that you follow through with a natural consequence. “Tanner, when we have cookies for desert tonight, you won’t be able to have one.”
You will save yourself many headaches down the road if you master what Micahael Gurian calls the “Two-Times Rule.” By this age, it is appropriate to expect a boy to follow through with an instruction by the second  command.
“Please go upstairs and pick up your toy cars before bed.” A few minutes pass. “I’ve asked you pick up your cars. I will not ask you again.”
If these two times don’t work, the boy’s behavior needs to be regulated through a natural consequence….
The Wandererer
The son knew he had screwed up, and he was swimming in the shame of having botched up twice in succession. The father realized that his son didn’t need to hear a lecture; he needed mercy and understanding.
It can be hard to love someone as “unlovable” as a teenager. We’re not talking about some ooey-gooey feeling. The kind of love a boy at this stage needs is purposeful, willful, and desirous. It’s the kind of love that compels us to pray for our children. It calls us to remember the times when they were enjoyable, and to hold that in our hearts. It calls us to prepare and plan ways to delight in our boys. It moves us toward them in curiosity about what they are like with interest in who they are becoming.
And when those times come when we can’t seem to laugh or love, or we completely blow it in relating to our boys (which will most definitely happen at least two dozen times during their adolescence), they need us to ask for forgiveness. And they need us to go first in asking for forgiveness, even when they should be the ones to go first. The need for us to be the grown-ups. (because we are). 
Different Learning Styles
As boys develop, they learn primarily in three ways: visually, spatially, and experimentally.  Schools, on the other hand, are mostly auditory, sedentary, and intellectual.  This mode of learning is detrimental not only to boys, but to girls as well. A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “free and unstructured play”  is “healthy and essential” for helping children reach chief “social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones, as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.” The report cites changes in family structure, and increasingly competitive college admissions process, and federal education policies that have led to reduced recess and physical education in many schools. In settings like these, boys suffer the most. This loss of play and free time “in combination with a hurried lifestyle, can be a source of stress, anxiety, and may even contribute to depression for many children.” Boys who sit all day listening to to lectures are being taught in an environment that is not conducive to their learning. 
What about parenting? Experiential learning can really change the way we parent boys. Instead of trying to tell our boys everything we want them to know, we can invest our parental energy in creating teachable moments that allow life’s circumstances to do the teaching. 
If real-life situations don’t lend themselves to teaching certain concepts (or aren’t appropriate for some reason), you can always role-play. For example, when my (David’s) boys were Explorers, I introduced the concept of appropriate touch through role-playing.  I set up a big play time with my boys, and we acted out different situations with adults who had permission to touch their bodies…and adults who did not. I also used their favorite stuffed animals and our family dog to identify body parts that were private and not to be shown, shared, or touched by others. We used the stuffed animals to play out situation in which a child was touched in appropriately and went to a safe adult to tell what happened. These vignettes ended with the safe adults loving on the boys and praising them for telling the truth.
Deficits and Disappointments
Disappointment is one of the primary struggles that many boys face as they move from childhood to adolescence and into their young adult years.  Around the age of ten and onward, boys have difficulty handling failure–and they are more apt to stuff their disappointments than to name them and work their way through them. Boys talk less about what they are feeling and isolate themselves more than girls do. They go to their rooms and kick, brood, sulk, and hide in whatever emotion they are experiencing.
Unless we intervene with behavioral redirection, emotional coaching, and relational modeling , boy will carry these habits into their adult lives. It’ one reason why boys disproportionately commit violence against society and themselves. and why men in general head the charts in terms of substance abuse, sexual addiction, rage arrogance, adultery, and the use of pornography. Boys who never learn effective ways of dealing with their emotional lives grow into men with great struggles in terms of addiction of all kinds.
Boys who aren’t taught how to deal with their disappointments will buy their heartaches, hide their weaknesses, and compensate for their incompetence. When they grow into men, they will be emotionally defensive, performance driven, or both. Boys who don’t know how to handle disappointment will come to believe that their worth is based on what they achieve or what they have to offer. They’re left to try to manufacture their own self-esteem and base their self-worth on performance or behavior. These are the guys who keep score.
Whether consciously or not, these boys, and the men they become, believe that their value is based on what others think about them, and they wear themselves out trying to seek approval or win affection. Too often this exhausting quest to feel good about themselves creates a need or desire for some external substance or behavior to alleviate the pain of their unmanaged disappointment. Often, it turns to lust. Boys and men who can’t handle these disappointments end up lusting for sex, money, power, fun, drugs, escape, TV, vacations, or whatever else they can find that works. 
Despite our best efforts, however, we can’t get around the fact that disappointment, pain, and struggle are all a part of life. When we don’t allow the boys we love to suffer with the disappointments of life, we undermine their manhood by sending them messages that say, “You’re weak. you can’t handle life.” Intentionally or not, by our words and our actions we communicate to our boys that they’re not capable or responsible.
When we shield boys from life’s natural consequences or demand perfection from them (which of course they can’t achieve), they inevitably fall short of the mark–bringing guilt and shame. Helicopter parents and Drill Sergeant parents often complain about their sons mismanaged responsibilities. These parents are left to whine and nag or demand and threaten


I especially loved the descriptions of developmental stages.  Parts of the book were so enlightening.  Other parts were affirming.  Because the boy world is new to me I really needed to hear some of the ways we are parenting  are really good for boys.  Then there were the parts that made me laugh because they are such  t r u e descriptions of boys.  Reading Wild Things gave me an even greater passion to nurture boys in ways that encourage them to become strong, godly men.



An Atlanta family's story: learning to love God and others


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 782 other followers