Happy Mental Wellness Month! This week, we bring you installment #3 in our month-long series. For all of January, we’ll be show you how we at Today’s Family take steps to ensure that all of the children we care for are healthy and happy, and how you can too.
Today we’re going to talk about boys. Have you ever heard the phrase “men don’t cry”? Or have you noticed that young boys tend to call each other “girls” when they tear up? Sometimes, it seems like society tells our sons that having and showing emotions is bad – and that’s not ok! Studies have shown that people who bottle up their emotions have trouble communicating, which can cause problems in future friendships or relationships.
So today we’re going to look at some good examples of strong, emotional role models on TV or in movies or books that send the right message to young boys: that it’s ok to have feelings, and that it’s very good to show them and talk about them.
1) Maui (Moana)
I know, asking your six-year-old son to watch a Disney Princess movie is a tough sell, but maybe the catchy songs and giant volcano monsters will make it more appealing. Or, you could just point to Maui, a strong, boisterous, brave hero who has a magic fishhook and fights giant crabs.
But beneath all the bravado, Maui is quite the sensitive guy. He’s not just a happy hero – he’s actually pretty sad. And opening up to Moana about his past and his fears gives him the strength to do what he couldn’t before: defeat Te Ka, the volcano monster.
2) Stitch (Lilo and Stitch)
This blue fuzzball of an alien is cute, funny, and a little bit of a terror. He also is a great example of a character who comes to terms with his feelings. From the very beginning, nobody likes Stitch. He escapes prison, lands on Hawai’i, and then causes tons of problems for Lilo and her family. But through Lilo’s love, Stitch realizes just how important family is. At one point, he takes Lilo’s “The Ugly Duckling” book and reads it on his own, and that’s when he realizes how much he needs Lilo.
Stitch is a great example we can use to teach all children about dealing with emotions. Sometimes, all we need is a little alone time. You don’t have to talk to someone about your feelings all the time – sometimes, just going off on your own and reading a favourite book works too. The important part is finding a strategy to release those pent up emotions in a way that doesn’t threaten to destroy an island or two.
3) Shrek (Shrek)
Shrek the Ogre is a Man’s Man. He’s big, tall, strong. A wrestling champion. He beats a dragon and a band of Robin Hood’s Merry Men. But at the end of the day, he falls in love with Fiona, and he only defeats Lord Farquad by opening up to his Princess and telling her how she feels.
For some added oomph, make sure to point out Shrek’s big mistake: when he hears Fiona talking about her own nightly transformation and thinks that she is talking about him, Shrek goes and brings Lord Farquad to the windmill instead of talking to Fiona about his feelings. In the end, this almost makes Fiona marry Lord Farquad instead of Shrek, which is just not a good fairy tale ending at all.
4) Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts is probably his most confusing and emotional one. All throughout the fifth book (or movie, if you prefer), Harry deals with typical teenage emotions of jealousy, anger, and abandonment. He becomes moody and unresponsive, bottling up all his feelings until he explodes. In short, he turns 15.
Harry eventually gets in a screaming match with Professor Dumbledore, running around his office and breaking everything he can get his hands on. But after his rampage, Dumbledore sits him down and calmly explains everything to Harry. It’s a great moment to teach children that talking is better than destroying – and that talking will get the adults in your life to actually listen to you.
Spider-Man is cool. Spider-Man is fun. Spider-Man also learns that he has to tell people he cares about that he’s actually a web-slinging superhero. The Toby Maguire trilogy has the red-and-blue costumed hero starts off hiding his identity, but that can’t last long when you’re the biggest deal in New York City. Peter Parker’s reluctance to come clean to his family and friends causes all sorts of problems for the people around him.
Spider-Man shows just how important it is to share what’s going on in your life with others. On the one hand, telling Mary Jane about his alter ego leads to the two finally starting a relationship. On the other, if Peter had been up front with his friend Harry Osborn, Harry might not have felt betrayed by Peter, and he might not have followed his father’s footsteps and become a supervillain. In any case, Spider-Man shows the pluses and minuses surrounding open and clear communication, which is a great lesson for any young boy to know.
Thanks for joining us this week! Did we miss any of your favourite role models for boys? Tweet at us @TodaysFamilyOnt or let us know on Facebook, where we’re Today’s Family Early Learning and Child Care. We’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,
– Today’s Family