“There’s never been a better time – perhaps in all of human history – to raise a boy.”
- M. Reichert
In our first book club webinar event on March 30, author and speaker, Michael C. Reichert, PhD, welcomed 90 families to discuss his roadmap to successfully parenting boys.
Michael Reichert is a psychologist who has worked in a variety of clinical, school, community and research contexts over the course of his career. He serves as Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives, a research collaborative at the University of Pennsylvania, and is supervising psychologist at The Haverford School outside Philadelphia. In clinical practice outside Philadelphia, PA, he has long specialized in work with boys, men and their families.
We’ve been big fans of Dr. Reichert’s writing and his latest book, How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men, contains many relevant and compelling lessons. His research corroborates what so many of our Sterling Hall teachers intuitively believe and know about teaching and reaching boys.
For example, when Dr. Reichert encourages all of us, including parents, to practice deep listening, be present and suspend judgement he’s reinforcing how important it is to give boys a place and space to discuss and normalize their negative feelings of fear, anger and sadness. We must provide the environment where they can express themselves in an appropriate and healthy manner.
This active practice of listening, limiting and listening is foundational to our ‘circles’ activity at Sterling Hall. Let’s imagine there has been an upsetting confrontation or experience on the playground. Upon returning to class any boy can request a ‘circle’ where the boys can freely discuss what happened, share their feelings and work toward resolution. The teacher will be involved but primarily as a guide and facilitator - not the solution provider.
Parents regularly tell us that these circles are one of the characteristics of the Sterling Hall experience that they most value.
“If boys know they are held in our hearts, they will take on the world with a greater sense of who they are and who they really want to become.”
- M. Reichert
Dr. Reichert’s research shows very clearly why developing social-emotional literacy is so important to empowering boys to be comfortable in connecting in healthy ways with others, to be receptive to risk taking and practising self-regulation. He encourages parents to take at least 15 minutes everyday to engage in boy-directed time. It’s really very simple…if your boy wants to play a video game with you - do it; if he just wants to sit quietly - do it; if he wants to boot a soccer ball around - do it. The point of the activity is to provide your son with agency. To make it clear to him that he is seen, he is heard, he is respected.
“A young man’s self-confidence is not accidental or serendipitous but derives from experiences of being accurately understood, loved, and supported.”
- M. Reichert
We thank Dr. Reichert for his generosity in sharing his learning with us and for affirming that our approach to a character-driven learning environment is the route to providing a future filled with belonging, connection and the ability to sustain healthy relationships.