This researcher is shifting the focus of people on two crucial ages of young boys when they go through drastic emotional and sociological changes.
Society has always discussed the emotional maturity and growth differences between girls and boys as they grow older. Adding to this conversation is Brendan Kwiatkowski, a teacher from Canada with a Ph.D. in Education. In his TikTok video, he explains how a young boy's outlook on his own self switches around the age of five and fifteen. Kwiatkowski dubs it the 'boy crisis' and shares how boys of these two ages often disconnect from their real selves and grow emotionally distant too.
On his Tiktok page which is aptly titled @remasculine, Kwiatkowski mostly makes videos about the social and emotional well-being of boys and men. His video has sparked a lot of conversation and curiosity surrounding his claims. "Prior to the age of 5, boys tend to be more emotionally expressive than girls, however, that shifts around that time period where boys become less verbally expressive than girls do," Kwiatkowski begins. "Although their somatic markers for emotional reactivity do not change."
This is the age when boys often suppress certain parts of their personalities too. Kwiatkowski points out some of the potential reasons why 5-year-old boys go through this emotional shift. "Some of this is due to implicit bias as mothers and fathers tend to use less emotional language when talking to their sons as compared to their daughters, particularly about events that might be sad or scary," Kwiatkowski elaborated. "Some of it can be more intentional as parents tend to be more concerned about their sons being seen as too feminine than they are about their daughters being seen as more masculine."
According to his words, boys at that age might start repressing their emotions because they begin to realize that showing fear and sadness is stereotypically not accepted in society and they are expected to be brave and tough all the time. The crisis at the age of 5 also starts when young boys start school and they are expected to develop a "more masculine" personality. The second crisis begins when they are 15.
"The second boy crisis happens around the age of 14/15 with the transition to high school. You have puberty and all the insecurities that come along with that. You have changing social dynamics and trying to posture and fit in," Kwiatkowski remarks in his video. He addresses that this is when most boys are starting with their first romantic relationship and they are typically worried about their image amongst their peers.
"You have the cesspool of insecurity and uncertainty, and this is when the masculine pressures to be manly, namely restrict your emotions and be physically and mentally tough are the highest," he added. The parents were specifically alarmed by this video as they left their comments full of concern, worrying about the future of their young boys. @mamallamadingdong17 wrote: "My sweet unicorn and glitter-loving son just started kindergarten yesterday. I hate all of this for him."
@sezno2wheat commented: "My son lost trust in me because I let him take his pink owl in for show and tell & even the teacher laughed at him he was very mad at me. My heart just broke." @user6948128180465 shared her thoughts: "As a mum of 3 boys, it's so frustrating seeing old school parents prep their boys to be 'tough' & mean. It undermines our efforts & harms everyone!" Kwiatkowski further wrote about how masculinity isn't toxic as a whole but certain 'masculine' beliefs and behaviors are 'restrictive,' per his website. Here is to hoping parents raising young boys can navigate these two tough years of their lives despite the boys facing the 'crisis.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 12, 2023. It has since been updated.