Attitude Adjustments—Boys

boys attitude

It’s one of the most common problems every parent faces at some point. We make a simple request that is met with initial silence, a roll of the eyes, a huff, an argument, and finally a slamming of the door. But what do we do when this becomes the status quo in the house?

Author and researcher Shaunti Feldhahn suggests the solution lies in addressing the problem at its root. Feldhahn writes, “…Those infuriating teenage attitudes are often just the outward sign of underlying, secret fears and insecurities—insecurities that stand between our children and the confident adults they long to become.” In her book, For Parents Only: Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid, Feldhahn surveyed hundreds of boys that yielded some interesting information that can help in dealing with male attitudes:

  • Seven out of ten teenage boys most wanted to feel respected, believed in, and encouraged in their individual impact.
  • Six out of ten most feared failure, being inadequate or disrespected, and appearing weak or powerless.
  • When asked to use a word to describe what they most need to feel, answers among boys included able, successful, respected, accomplished, powerful, and significant.

Armed with this information, Child Psychologist Lisa Rice, suggests the following five essentials for helping boys overcome what may be rooted in insecurity:

  1. Respect him regardless of whether or not we think he has earned it.
  2. Use the language of honor.
  3. Recognize both effort and success.
  4. Value dad’s unique role.
  5. Give boys the opportunity to rise to the occasion.

The winter months, and January in particular, can be a difficult time. One British Psychologist even developed a formula that identified January 24th as the most depressing day of the year (my anniversary is the 25th—whew!). My experience suggests that parents definitely see a spike in poor attitudes and apathy among their kids in January. Rather than suffer through a repeated cycle that strains relationships and raises stress in the house, perhaps it is time to take a look at the underlying issues that drive the behavior of our kids.


Until next time…



Feldhahn, Shaunti, and Lisa Rice. For Parents Only: Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2007.

About Jeffrey D. Potts, Ed.D.

Raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, Jeff Potts, Ed.D., grew up learning the importance of hard work and family values. A graduate of Baylor University, he has master’s degrees from two universities and earned his Ed.D. in teaching and learning from a fourth institution. Potts launched his pedagogical career in the 1990s, working full-time with students and parents. READ MORE→