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Boys Sinky Armpits and Big Feet! Oh My!

February 13, 20245 min read

I have to say I mostly write about the issues girls go through during puberty and getting their periods. It was time to give dads and their sons airtime because they need it.

In my last newsletter, I addressed that girls’ puberty requires some humor and laughter. That newsletter focused on the issues girls deal with. But I have to say boys' issues can be just as humorous and, in some cases, even more so.

I always like to start with what and when boys experience during puberty. On average, boys enter puberty about two years after girls. Since the first physical change is feet getting bigger, I joke that boys' feet can enter a room before they do. And suddenly parents are buying shoes every two weeks.

Some of the main issues I address in my classes are physical and emotional changes, hormones, and genes. Around ten or eleven, as a rule, is when your little boy starts to change before your very eyes. Growth begins to happen, some quicker than others. They go from being puppy-like to the next stage, teenagers!!!!

Stinky armpits will probably be the first sign. They might now know their pits are stinky but ask their teacher how the room smells after lunch. And for the most part, they could care less. Electronics and sport dominate their existence.

Humor in my class is an excellent way to defuse an uncomfortable topic. Once we discussed hormones, I asked them what the caveman's job was. I pretend I’m driving a 4X4 truck into the forest and want to know if that’s how the caveman got his kill back to the cave (laughter). I asked them what part of the caveman's body had to be strong to get their kill back to the cave. I teach the boys the hormone testosterone is what will allow their body to change during puberty physically and emotionally. I have them put their hands up and shout “testosterone” and then grunt like cavemen! (Laughter)

One of the most essential parts of my class is the lesson on hygiene and nutrition. I realize most parents of boys spend a great deal of time trying to instill healthy hygiene habits, often to no avail. As a rule, it’s just not a priority in their lives until the day comes when they want to impress someone. To them, washing one's body to get it clean consists of water and maybe some soap. Maybe!

To get across some of my hygiene tips, I have one of the boys demonstrate how he washes his hair. In most cases, I see the fluff method versus using the pads of their fingers to clean their scalp. I explain that it’s important to massage their scalp due to the increased sweat and oil on their head.

Washing one’s body is truly a boring concept to a tween boy. Most boys tend to wash their bodies with soap on their hands. I explain that their hands are smooth and won’t get them clean. But, a washcloth or puff, which is rougher, will get all the dirt and germs off their bodies. Last, to wash one’s feet or not! I asked them what our room would smell like if everyone removed their shoes and socks. A cacophony of moans and groans fills the room. Suddenly, washing one's feet every time makes more sense.

The discussion of deodorant has improved over the years. Most boys are using deodorant versus antiperspirant. I remember several years back, I decided to spray some “Axe” antiperspirant in the room. On the one hand, it made my point that an aerosol is potentially harmful, and on the other hand, it made the room sink for the entire class. That was an experiment that went horribly wrong.

Even though the boys in my class are probably quite a few years off from having to shave, I still cover that in my class. I ask a parent and son to come up to the front (father without a beard). I give the dad a can of shaving cream and tell him to put some on one side of his son’s face. The son is not excited about shaving cream on his face, though his peers are totally into the demonstration. I give the father a fake razor and have him explain his shaving process to the class. I ask him if he shaves with or against the grain of his hair. Usually, a heated discussion ensues with the other fathers about that topic. While the discussion is happening, the boy is standing there with shaving cream, and his friends are getting a good laugh.

Next comes the dreaded male reproductive anatomy lesson. I’ve taught that lesson for over thirty years, and it never gets old. Sixteen parts, every part must work, or the system breaks down. I often give the example of what would happen if something in a Tesla broke down. Each part impacts the next, and each plays a vital part in the success of reproduction. We briefly discussed why wearing a cup during contact sports is essential. I ask the boys what would happen if they didn’t, and groans and painful expressions reverberate throughout the room. I then ask the boys why they think the testes sit outside their bodies inside their pelvis where they would be protected. None can figure out why, so I tell them to ask their dads. Like all the amazing designs of the male reproductive system, having the testes externally ensures the success of the sperm.

I have never made it a dry lesson; I teach it with drama, intrigue, and a happy ending. My exciting build-up refers to sixty million sperm being released in one ejaculate (amazing!); they need to swim nine inches, only about two hundred make it to the egg, and only one sperm is the ultimate winner. So, we’re all one out of sixty million, which is quite a miracle.

I also cover some of the sensitive physical and emotional issues girls experience. The boys need that information to be more sensitive to their female counterparts. Experiencing an erection during school can be just as embarrassing as a girl getting her period. Being sensitive and respectful is a big part of my overall curriculum.

In my next newsletter, I’ll share six essential habits to help parents of sons navigate puberty's sometimes bumpy waters. Stay tuned.

If you’d like a truly transformative experience, consider hosting one of my parent/son puberty classes. The information and connection you gain will translate into a deeper relationship with your son.

Boys' PubertyTeenage Hygiene TipsMale Reproductive AnatomyParenting Sons through Puberty coachlesliedixon
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Leslie Dixon

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