“I’m not holding his hand”

“I’m not holding his hand!” We asked the boys to get in a circle and hold hands so we could play a game…honestly you’d have thought that we’d asked them to drink acid! But by the end of the session, they were forgetting the socially constructed rules about hands and working hard together. It’s amazing how boys allow such silly things as “I’m not holding his hand” to get in the way of working together.

This week was all about trust. Men are willing to trust and be vulnerable. They know that they need others to complete the task. This group of boys are at the stage of life when then it is all about me before the group. Often making them the centre of attention through over the top clowning around or harsh name calling.

This week’s speaker was a Royal Marine, someone who had seen active service around the world. The boys, being 10-year-olds, were fascinated by guns and war, but what our Marine focused on was how teamwork and character essential.  The person who makes it all about them is no good to the team and puts others at risk.  Some of the boys challenged our Marine to a press up and plank competition and they did amazingly well against such a fit man. The Marine challenge them to work with those you don’t like because sometimes to get the job done you need to be willing to put aside differences. He told a very moving story of how his unit had to work hard after being hit by a roadside bomb to recover the casualties. No time for being individuals, only working as a team.

We did all the classic trust activities and some new ones.

By the end of the session, the boys were no longer bothered about holding hands and worked with great enthusiasm to do what was needed to complete the tasks, including holding hands.

We don’t want the boys to think that they can’t express themselves as individuals but need to learn that there is a right time for this. That terrible saying “boys will be boys” allows them and society to think it’s ok that they interrupt teaching, group work and not consider others. “Boys will be boys” is an excuse for accepting behaviour which is not helpful. So we are very clear about having fun and try to make the session full of energy and enjoyment, but we are also very strong on challenging unhelpful and selfish expressions of attention seeking. This behaviour is often as a result of the boys not being truly heard during the week.  To ensure that the boys feel heard and can express themselves we have several times of honest sharing in the group. We do highs & lows and compliments. Our little group of boys have shown great maturity in the way they have approached these listening and speaking tasks,  showing what they are truly made of. We also start and finish with drumming. It’s not conducted drumming, we just all get a drum and whack it! Allowing the boys ( and adults) to express themselves within the collective. It’s noisy, not in time and great fun!

We only had a couple of hours with the boys, what is needed to help their learning be complete is their parents at home continuing the learning. Hopefully, parents will do the daily set tasks. For the reinforcement of the process is essential to helping it be lifelong learning.

I have 20 years experience of working with families, helping parents raise children with the self-confidence and self-esteem to be a world changer is what I enjoy doing and turns out I am pretty good at.

I'm a dad of three ( all of whom can rap the first part of Ice Ice baby by Vanilla Ice), all three would say I am not a perfect dad but then who is… but I am a great at being me.

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