Dr. Adam Cox helped Janet crack the boy code, way back when she was a first grade teacher who didn’t know what to do with a class full of boys. His book, Cracking the Boy Code: How to Understand and Talk with Boys, is a seminal text that contains valuable insights for parents and teachers of boys.
More than 25 years ago, Dr. Cox, a psychologist, recognized that boys in his community were looking for a place where they’d be accepted and welcomed. His boy-friendly approach developed over the years as he learned how boys communicate. His understanding of boys grew further as he studied boys worldwide.
“The highest priority of boys is their happiness,” Dr. Cox says. Happiness even trumps popularity and success, as far as boys are concerned — which goes a long way toward explaining why you spend so much time fighting with your son over homework.
Boys also crave a sense of purpose. Even young boys want to make a tangible difference in the world. “Boys want to feel as though they are needed to do some kind of important work,” Dr. Cox says. He recommends a “counter-intuitive” approach to boys’ misbehavior.
“The way that we deal with misbehaving boys the world over is to ratchet down on their freedoms. We take away freedom and privileges. I think instead that we should try to get them to ally themselves with us by giving them an important job,” Dr. Cox says. If, instead, “we get into a moral conflict with that child — ‘I’m going to prove to you that I’m the boss here!’ — it just backfires on us. It’s much better to invite their leadership in a way that suits them.”
In this episode, Jen, Janet & Dr. Adam discuss:
- Boy “constants” that persist across cultures
- Boys’ priorities
- Why boys need a sense of purpose
- Effective discipline for boys
- Finding appropriate jobs for boys
- The difference between “purposeful work” and “chores”
- Why you must monitor & control your vocal tone when talking to boys
- How to talk so boys will listen
- Picking the right place and time to talk with your son
- Respecting boys’ privacy
- Why you shouldn’t dismiss or denigrate your son’s interest in video games
- Talking to boys about love and imagination
- Helping boys live a life that’s in line with their values and interests
- Adolescent inertia
- The link between teenage depression and lack of motivation
- How to get unmotivated boys moving forward
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
DrAdamCox.com — Dr. Adam’s website
Cracking the Boy Code: How to Understand and Talk with Boys, by Dr. Adam Cox
On Purpose Before Twenty, by Dr. Adam Cox
Why Boys Need Chores – ON BOYS episode
The Evolution of Esports — ON BOYS episode
Video Game Design: A Career for Boys — ON BOYS episode
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