One of my characters is an 11 year old boy. He's just seen his mother die horrifically, and it is set in a post-apocalyptic world. My question is: How do boys 10-13 normally act ? Give me all the deets!
Calling all mothers of preteen boys!
Posted 16 January 2014 - 01:40 PM
Here's an example, we had a boxer, our beloved family dog for nearly 10 years, my boys grew up with her, the youngster used her as a climbing frame. She got cancer and deteriorated to the point we had to make a really hard call. The vet came to PTS her at home with us. My 11 yr old couldn't handle, walked out of the room, never saw him for the rest of the night and he has never mentioned her dying since. My 8 yr old sat with her the whole time, stroking her head until long after she was gone and he wanted to make a cross for where we buried her. I don't doubt my 11 yr was really upset by her dying, but shutting himself away and compartmentalising was his way of dealing with it, while my other boy talks about her as his way of coping.
Posted 16 January 2014 - 01:56 PM
Thanks, that's really helpful.
Also, I want to know what preteen boys act like in general. I have no experience with younger kids. I am absolutely clueless, but I'm guessing "it depends" will also be the answer to that question.
Posted 16 January 2014 - 02:03 PM
It does depend. My son is only nine months old, but I am very involved in the lives of my nephews and their friends. How they act will all depend on their personality AND in your characters case, the relationship they had with the dying parent.
For example, my husband was not raised by his mother, he was raised by his aunt. He and his mom have a very formal/fake mother son relationship, and when she passes away I doubt he will be all that affected. However, his aunt passed away in 2006... he still has not gotten over it.
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Posted 16 January 2014 - 02:43 PM
When it comes to how your character will act in general, the real question is how you WANT your pre-teen guy to be. He could be an introvert who spends all day playing video games or a loudmouth with tons of friends ransacking the kitchen daily. They have just as much variety as adults. Whichever way you go, some of the few consistencies will probably be an immaturity/lack of tact, a willingness to eat anything in sight, and a love of movies and games with lots of stuff blowing up. Neatness will be rare. Hormones will be in abundance.
Posted 16 January 2014 - 05:17 PM
... I want to know what preteen boys act like in general...
I don't know how my 11-yr-old stepson would react to the specific ordeal you started the column with, but here's how he acts in general.
He seldom does as he's told without a fight (unless it happens to coincide with what he wanted to do anyway).
He complains a lot, especially about having to do anything that involves physical exercise. This might be more a function of today's society, than of his age. He's always whining about walking home from the bus-stop (less than a quarter of a mile). When I was his age, I walked to and from school every day, 1 1/2 miles each way, with a far heavier load of books, and never thouight of it as a hardship.
He doesn't listen.
He's disrespectful (again, I blame this on today's society - too many childrens' movies depicting kids yelling at parents/teachers without consequences - in your post-apocalyptic world, it's probably different).
He's NEVER to blame (it's always someone else's fault).
His entire existence revolves around video games (or it did until he lost those privileges).
He's a very fussy eater("broccoli is gross" and the slightest trace of fat makes the whole piece of meat inedible).
Getting him to do chores or clean up after himself is an experience in frustration.
Getting him to do homework can be even worse (five minutes scanning a worksheet constitutes studying for a test).
While not an outright lier, he has been known to be ecconomical with the truth.
Before you think that all this reflects badly on me as a parent, I must say in my defense that I've only been his stepdad for a little over two years. He's a lot better than he was. He's now learnt that he cannot get away with the same level of crap that he does when only his mother is around.
I believe that his backgroud has a lot to do with it. His biological dad is a deadbeat and he didn't have a fatherly influence in his life until he was almost nine.
Just as importantly, there's another side to him as well...
Sometimes he can totally surprise me by turning on the 'goodboy' switch.
As I write this, he's running around trying to find the toilet plunger (cleaning up after himself without even being asked).
He often bears his testimony at church, and when he does so, I'm amazed at his level of understanding.
He often displays a tremendous sence of right and wrong (even if he sometimes does not handle the situation appropriately). Several times, he has been disciplined at school after going to the rescue of a victim of bullying.
Posted 17 January 2014 - 08:48 PM
Kids react as diversely as adults and with the same depth of response. To me the main difference in this boys' response from an adult's would be the additional worry about survival - especially if he is now alone. He will have to make all the decisions the adult has made as well as coping with his grief and anger. That adds a ton of baggage to what he's already dealing with.
I've taught this age range for a long time and there are very few commonalities. As everyone has said, kids are unique individuals. Having said that there are some things that might help.
- at this age hormones are starting to hit - this means their bodies, brains and emotions are all starting to change. everything is always in flux and it can be a very confusing time for kids. Puberty brings with it all kinds of exciting changes and the following are some of the things I see...
- kids at this age really start to worry about fitting in. Cliques become fairly widespread and their memberships change often. While this is often more obvious for girls, it definitely happens with the boys too. Friendships will be in flux as well while everyone develops differently. By age 16 or so everyone has more or less caught up but from 10 until then their friendships are often with people at the same stage of puberty as themselves.
- they're starting to worry more about their appearance, their hygiene, what they wear, if the music they listen to is cool
- they're coming to have more of a world view. If a person becomes really passionate about an issue (environmental issues, child welfare, an illness, animal welfare...) at this age, it can become a life long passion
- along the same line, their sense of injustice and fair play strengthens. they find out life isn't always fair to others and they can do a great job at standing up for injustice and the underdog. In my experience they become more aware of prejudices adults hold and they start trying to make their own decisions about their feelings. I've rarely known a child of this age NOT to be compassionate. they make excellent reading buddies and are very caring with younger kids and relish the idea of being a role model
- boys and girls can often be very good/best friends before this age. Now they have to work for it. Not only are they maturing at different rates, but others start to assume they're 'dating' because they enjoy time with each other. Sometimes this causes the friends to drift apart, keep their friendship secret at school and sometimes they tell the world to stuff their opinion and they continue being friends
- music and other creative arts become more important. They look beyond the surface of the arts to the deeper meanings (this tends to happen more in grades 7 and 8 so maybe not for your 11 year old)
- I think most people would be amazed at the depth of discussions that happen with students in grades 5-8. My students always want to know more, are eager to ask questions (as long as people respect their questions and don't dismiss them) and want to learn just about everything. Puberty really opens up the brain and emotions. I adore teaching students in these grades!
Hope that helps you out a bit.
Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:43 PM
My son is 8. He has friends that range in age from 5 to 13. One thing they all have in common: anything at all to do with biological functions will make them laugh hysterically. Without question. Just say "fart" in front of a child of this age group.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” --Winston Churchill
Posted 19 January 2014 - 10:12 PM
Having a relationship end can be just as traumatic and painful as losing a loved one to death, sometimes worse because there can be no definitive closure to understand... Same five stages.
One writer's wise words: "Write drunk; Edit sober." - Hemmingway.
Posted 23 January 2014 - 02:18 AM
I have three boys, one of them grown, the other two are still being being experimented on (heh heh). To go along with the general "depends" response (and it is correct), I would add that even though he is a young boy, remember, he will still have his very own personality, in addition to all the very predictable traits particular to young boys. A male of that age could be very unpredictable if we are talking about something as dicey as witnessing his own mom's death. Then again, in the times you mention, he may be rather stoic, having seen it all already. Two of mine would be the stoic type in most circumstances, my middle son is the more emotional. Just keep his reaction consistent with his character. Kids aren't as refined as adults are; where an adult who is prone to emotional outbursts would lose it in such a situation, multiply a similar type of youth's reaction by five. Kids are quicker to cry, quicker to ask "why?" and at the age you're concerned with, already confused about everything!
Posted 23 January 2014 - 01:26 PM
I'm not a mother, but I am a teacher and interact with children of that age. They certainly do have individual personalities, so you're open there. The main thing you have to consider is education level. Is your character particularly smart? At the age of ten, boys are beginning to make major rapid-fire connections, some of them astute, some of the really way off, and some of them absolutely brilliant. For instance, one of my students, 11, compared evolution (a concept that was very new to him) and the economy in a way that caught me off guard. Also, at that age they are starting to make more complicated sentences, (dependent clauses, interruptive phrases, etc) but are still at a fairly basic reading level, so their speech is often stronger and more adult-sounding than what they are actually capable of reading.
Posted 26 January 2014 - 03:13 PM
Writing as Evelyn Adams
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