Parenting “Spicy” Boys

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“Spicy” boys are those who express themselves in big and loud ways, feel things intensely, and have energy to spare, says Mary Van Geffen, a popular Instagrammer and parent coach for Spicy Ones.

Spicy kids “have so much loyalty toward their own soul — and less to the adults’ agenda,” Mary says. They often are very persistent and quite emotionally intelligent. (Though often more attuned to their own emotions than others’.) It “can take a lot of energy to be with this child,” Mary notes.

Spicy boys are often world-changers. Their tendency toward change, questioning, experimentation, and new ideas can be challenging for parents who want their boys to follow directions and obey.

Calming your nervous system can help you effectively parent (and live with!) spicy boys. Taking regular “pause moments” is one way you can metaphorically “shut down all the tabs” in your brain, Mary says. Modeling meditation and pauses is also a powerful way to teach your boys how to manage their nervous systems.

Setting Boundaries & Expectations

Parents of spicy boys should also get clear about their own boundaries and expectations. Before going to the grocery store together, for instance, “decide what are your non-negotiables,” she says, and share that with your kids. “You have to decide what’s okay with you because I think a lot of the ‘feeling judged’ parents feel actually occurs when you’re judging yourself: Oh, a good mom would…”

You will need to clearly communicate your expectations to others who spend time with your kids, too. Communicate compassionately, especially when talking with parents and grandparents who may not understand the modern emphasis on consent and body boundaries, for instance. Set boundaries as needed, and remind yourself that good boundaries need reminders and reinforcements. “Don’t think for a  minute that someone’s poor reaction to your boundary doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good boundary to set,” Mary says. “In some ways, it’s actually a validation. When someone gives you a very hard time for setting a boundary, it shows you that this a relationship that needs boundaries.”


In this episode, Jen, Janet, & Mary discuss:
  • Characteristics of a Spicy One
  • Why shame-based discipline approaches don’t work with spicy boys
  • How your perceptions affect your parenting & relationship w your child
  • Parenting when you are spicy or highly sensitive
  • A sensual pause technique you can use to calm your nervous system
  • How changing your voice can help you reach your kids
  • Setting boundaries & managing others’ expectations
  • Grocery shopping with boys
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: – Mary’s website  — Mary on Instagram

Highly Sensitive People Can Thrive — ON BOYS episode

Highly Sensitive Boys with William Allen — ON BOYS episode

Sensitive Boys (w Dr. Sandy Gluckman) — ON BOYS episode

Brain-Body Parenting w Dr. Mona Delahooke — ON BOYS episode

Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and How You Can Achieve Yours — book by Shirzad Chamine (recommended by Mary)

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