Taking the Fun Out of Boyhood


As a young kid, I remember friends coming over, and we’d play cowboy-and-Indians or Army. We would mow down the enemy, and we would die in dramatic fashion…over and over…while continuing to pop up after a token period of death to fight again. It was fun, it was imaginative. It was what boys do.

Read a fascinating article on Time.com about how schools aren’t letting young boys do what comes naturally–be boys. One 7-year-old boy was suspended for using a pencil to “shoot” a bad guy. In another school, a boy was suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade at “bad guys” to save the world. Tug of war, dodgeball and tag–these are violent and hurt the self-esteem of the “losers.” Superhero play–inappropriate and violent.

For boys, imaginative play typically involves action, but schools are banning it with zero tolerance policies. Innocent boys are getting suspended, punished, publicly humiliated for doing what most of us grew up doing.

Would schools be happier if boys played with dolls? Would that meet the school goals of reducing violence and improving self esteem? Just wondering.

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