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Think about it. Every
alpha male was at some point a little boy. A 3- or 4- or 5-year-old little boy. What must that have been like for their
mom? Their teachers? Their playmates? Their siblings?
Little Donald Trump and a pre-K Vladimir Putin ... or what
about Sylvester Stallone — did he go by Sly at the tender age of 4? Each of those textbook alpha males (from the
arenas of business, global politics and entertainment) was a little version of
themselves at some point.
I initially thought about the idea of alpha males in the pre-K set when my son’s first teacher talked about it in a very matter-of-fact manner
at a parent teacher conference. Something along the lines of, “I love your son and he is not the alpha
male of the class.” It wasn’t said as a
slight. To the contrary, my boy not being the alpha male of the 3- and 4-year-old classroom meant he was relieved of that particular youthful
It was fascinating, really, to think about it. Developmentally, we all have to start
somewhere. Are our most pronounced personality
traits present at such a young age? And,
if so, how does that impact a child’s development and those caring for and
raising that child?
Being an alpha male, at any age, is not something that needs to be squashed, but something that needs to be harnessed.
Dawn Barnsdale, a Michigan preschool teacher with more than 17 years of experience and author of the blog, “It’s a Preschool Thing,” shed
some light on this idea:
is always that child, generally a boy, who changes the entire dynamic in a
preschool class. Not that girls can't play the part, but in my experience it is
usually the boys. The one who walks into class, no, saunters in, and all of the
other boys gather around him.
tone of the classroom changes — usually gets louder, and more physically active.
This is the boy who usually initiates the fantasy/superhero play, the one who
is constantly moving, the one that the other students take many of their cues
from. This is also the one whose name is most often said by the teacher!
speaking, these boys are confident and well-liked for many reasons, and as a
teacher, I find many ways to give these alphas outlets for their activity
levels. Offering authentic praise, and positive, gender neutral reinforcement
is key to keeping the 'alpha' confident, and ready for bigger
challenges without fostering a 'I can do no wrong' mentality.”
Dawn makes it seem easy!
What I like about the insight she provides is the idea that
being an alpha male, at any age, is not something that needs to be squashed,
but something that needs to be harnessed and integrated and seen as a strength,
not a nuisance or hindrance. And being
an alpha male, even a young one, is not the same as being a bully.
If you are mothering a future alpha male, be aware of the
unique responsibility you are entrusted with as his mother. Alpha males are powerful, dynamic
individuals. Things come easily for
them, they command respect and have an air of authority, even at very young
ages. I think about that mythic quote
from Spider Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Teach your mini-alpha males the meaning of
those words, and the opportunity they have to lead rather than bully.
After training as a clinical social worker and practicing for 10 years, Sheila Quirke, M.S.W., is currently a freelance writer and non-profit administrator at Donna's Good Things.