Talking About Problems A ‘Waste Of Time’ For Boys

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It’s a big stereotype to say that girls talk and talk and talk whereas boys barely speak but, hey, it’s kind of true. At least in my family it is. My mother still can’t get over that she’d received letters from camp from both my brother and me; mine were pages long detailing my BFFs’ likes and dislikes, color war play-by-plays, swim test challenges and who borrowed whose ripped jeans for evening program. My brother’s were usually a line or two: “Camp is fine. See you later. Adam.” My own five-year-old mumbles “fine” when I ask him how his day was, whereas my niece, also five, will launch into a 10-minute rant about everything she did beginning from the moment she opened her eyes in the morning. (I can so relate to my niece.)

When it comes to discussing their problems, boys and men alike are often just as silent. And now a recent study reveals why: they tend to think it’s not particularly useful. As lead researcher Dr. Amanda J. Rose tells PsychCentral:

“For years, popular psychologists have insisted that boys and men would like to talk about their problems but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak. However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn’t express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. Instead, boys’ responses suggest that they just don’t see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity.”

Researchers looked at various studies that included nearly 2,000 children and teens, according to the article. They found girls believed that talking about problem would make them feel cared for, understood and less alone. Boys believed that talking about problem would make them feel “weird” and like they were “wasting time.”

Dr. Rose says that parents should explain to boys that talking about problems is not a waste of time, but to avoid focusing too much on on how it will make them feel safer to confide (this tactic won’t work). Here’s where it gets weird, though. She claims that girls, on the other hand, are at risk for “excessive problem talk, which is linked with depression and anxiety, so girls should know that talking about problems isn’t the only way to cope.”

(Photo: Hemera)