Many parents and educators struggle to connect and communicate with adolescent boys. Dr. Adam Cox, clinical psychologist for over 20 years and author of Cracking the Boy Code: How to understand and talk with boys, explains what he’s learned after devoting his career to engaging with school-aged boys. The majority of young boys are not natural communicators, so Dr. Cox breaks down why this is and what parents can do differently to have better conversations with their sons.
Dr. Cox narrows down the reason for boys’ difficulty in engaging in serious conversations. He says they often process language primarily through the left-hemisphere of the brain, which deals with just the facts, as opposed to the right-hemisphere of the brain, which deals with social-perceptual skills. As a result of this, many boys miss nonverbal social cues.
In our society, boys are often reduced to their behavioral problems. Dr. Cox says that this is unfair and that boys are capable of being strong communicators if approached in the right way. The single most important factor he names for better conversations is to be aware of tone of voice. He names this strategy “Task Tone,” a matter-of-fact, somewhat monotonous, and logical way of speaking that appeals to the left-hemisphere of the brain. He also says that eye contact during moments of vulnerability often does more harm than good.
By setting the table correctly for good conversations, many adults can be surprised at how school-aged boys can become more open and vulnerable. Without a moralistic tone and an excessive focus on behavioral issues, Dr. Cox says we can then focus on issues that really matter to a boy’s psychology, such as strength and honor. He has developed a saying for the boys he works with to remember: “Strength to do what’s right, the honor to do it well.”
To learn more about communicating with boys or to purchase a copy of Dr. Cox’s book, visit the links below.
- Dr. Adam Cox, a clinical psychologist and author of Cracking the Boy Code: How to understand and talk with boys