Being a teenage boy is hard work. It is a time of learning and discovery and not just the type of learning you do at school. The ever present want for popularity or at the very least, to fit in and be accepted looms over their heads. The social pressures surrounding teenage boys are huge and coming at them from every direction. The pressure to be cool around the guys, the pressures from the media to look and act in a certain way and we haven’t even mentioned the added confusion about teenage girls!
Here are four areas to consider when trying to understand how teenage boys make decisions:
1. Friendship groups
The people your son chooses to hang out with will likely have one of the greatest effects on his decision making. Every boy wants to be accepted by his peers and these friendship groups can throw out new, difficult challenges for your son. Friendship groups can often be helpful in encouraging your son through healthy competition in areas of academic or sporting achievement. The unfortunate reality is that negative challenges also arise from these groups. The pressure to fit in is often sees boys doing things they might not have previously thought right or appropriate. Continually guide your son with a balance of love and structure (teenage boys need boundaries). Being clear on what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour gives your son the strength to stand up to these pressures.
Teenagers have the added pressures of learning about the changes happening to their own bodies as they experience puberty. Whilst a lot of emphasis is put on helping girls through puberty, it is worth remembering that significant changes are indeed happening to your son as well. Face acne and crackly voice breaks are probably two of the most obvious changes that can occur and boys can often become quite self-conscious of their bodies. This can cause them to become more withdrawn and quiet and can also effect their confidence. This, as well as other previously mention reasons, may mean that they are less likely to want to be involved in family activities and social gatherings where they may feel exposed or judged.
3. Risk taking
An issue with teenage and young adult males is that they think they are invincible. Many teenage boys are still discovering their physical limits, and with added social pressures from their peers, will become more open to risk-taking. Adolescent brains are most often less rational and still developing. This means they still are learning and discovering the consequences to the actions they are beginning to take. Their decision-making process will change as they discover their limits and what is acceptable behaviour. Of course some risk-taking is essential for growth, but this should be done in a safe and monitored environment such as school. The subject of risk-taking corresponds closely with the next point.
Underage drinking is not only illegal but has been shown to have adverse, negative effects on under-developed brains. The best way you can encourage the responsible use of alcohol by your son (once they are eighteen of course) is by modelling a responsible and sensible approach to drinking. The same applies to safe driving practices and the correct treatment of the women in their lives. Act as you would want your son to act!
It can often be hard to understand why your teenage boy does what he does. Decisions that might have seemed like a great idea to him can be quite obviously a terrible idea to the rest of us. And whilst these terrible decisions aren’t great when they happen, they often end in learning and development, for your son and for you as a parent. Be comforted in the fact that the teachers and staff surrounding him at school will always be there to encourage and teach good decision making. These will be life skills that will stay with the boys for years after they leave school for the last time.
For over a century, Trinity Grammar School has guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed. To find out about the Trinity difference and to stay in touch with school news and learn more about educating boys, sign up to our enewsletter.