“The primary prevention approach of safety education is questioned as a comprehensive prevention method for this high-risk target group.” (Mori, L., & Peterson, L. 1995)
This is the last line in an abstract from a white paper titled “Knowledge of Safety of High and Low Active-Impulsive Boys: Implications for Child Injury Prevention” by Lisa Mori and Lizette Peterson.
My son recently shot himself in the palm of his hand with an airsoft gun…intentionally. He now is scheduled for surgery. No, they were not able to get the “pellet” out of his hand in the ER. It started getting me thinking about boys and girls and the innate differences among them, and children in general. I don’t like to generalize that girls just don’t seem to get themselves injured as much just because they are girls; however, it seems the case. “As is the case with many childhood disorders, boys sustain injuries about twice as frequently as girls,” (Wright, Schaefer, & Solomons, 1979)
I just had a birthday and one of his texts to me was “How does it feel to be old?” My response: “How does it feel to be a dumb teenager?” Although my son is intelligent and displays common sense most of the time, he is impulsive and has always been. The list of his injuries include stitches in his chin, Copperhead snake bite, busted thigh, burned hand, fights, broken knuckle (football related so not sure if that is a good example) and the most recent, airsoft bullet lodged in his left hand, self-inflicted. If I could add an eye rolling emoji, this is where it would go.
My daughter, equally as adventurous and sometimes more daring, has never been to the emergency room. Does she just think things through hence doesn’t have painful consequences? Is she not as competitive? Maybe.
She has scared me just as much, rock climbing, riding her bike, balancing on fences. Is she just better at it? I don’t think so. I think she just naturally calculates risk factors and regulates what and when she attempts her daring activities. She also is more independent and not influenced as much by peer pressure. She is just not as impulsive. In contrast, my son is a little worried about one-upping a friend or being able to live up to a dare. It is concerning considering he recently got his driver’s permit. What can a parent say? How do you just “not worry,” especially with his history?
So much depends on discipline and teaching consequences, but when your child is impulsive does any type of discipline and consequence affect his decision making or lack thereof?
“In general, gray matter (in the brain) is comprised of neurons, whose alignment in circuits are considered to be the units of neural communication, so changes in gray matter are likely to have important ramifications for emotions, cognition, and behavior.” (Wright, L., & Kutcher, S. (2016). Adolescent brain development; Morgan & Claypool)
Does my son have less gray matter in his brain than my daughter?
What “important ramifications?” What does this mean? Does this explain why my son does not consider what it could be like to shoot himself in the hand? Changes in gray matter? So tell me how to stuff more “matter” in their heads for survival purposes. I guess it is supposed to make me feel better that it is “normal” adolescent brain development. It doesn’t. Maybe my daughter has less fluctuation in “matter” than my son, keeping her injury history at a minimum.
The primary goal of a teen is to achieve independence. Our primary goal as parents is to guide them to this independence and to achieve it with most body parts intact. I am continually reminded that I have to have faith they are learning and will grow from their experiences. My son may grow with a lot more physical pain than my daughter. I will grow more confident in my mental health capabilities and stability when we all get through adolescents to adulthood. Until then, airsoft guns are off limits.