(CNN)School had been challenging for Kimmi Berlin's 7-year-old son.
Already at his age, he felt pressure to conform: to play more physically with other boys, to emote less and subvert his own happiness or pain, said Berlin, co-founder of Build Up Boys. The nonprofit group's mission is to teach pre-K through eighth grade boys and their caregivers social and emotional skills to combat gender presssure.
"The energy he was expending trying to do it made him almost feel like a trapped animal," Berlin said. "He couldn't really get in touch with how he felt about anything because he was in constant panic mode."
Then came the shutdown spawned by the coronavirus. Now, away from those pressures, he has been able to access his full range of emotions, whether that's relief at being home or anxiety about what's to come. "He's totally come into his own," Berlin said.
Before the pandemic hit, a national conversation about the narrow roles boys are forced