• Decoding Boys – Understanding Boys’ Silence, Anger And Other Signals | Cara Natterson MD | Episode 118

  • decoding boys, understanding boysAs our boys grow up life can get strange. That little boy who loved being with you can suddenly disappear behind closed doors. We lose communication and our relationship with them suffers. Understanding boys and the changes they go through as they approach and live through puberty can help. Parents can keep a better line of communication and foster a stronger relationship with their sons. They can also decrease the anxiety and frustration their boys experience during this time. Cara Natterson, M.D.,go-to puberty expert, talks to Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler about decoding boys, improving communication, and strengthening or rebuilding your relationship.



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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    “We’ve done a good job giving our girls a louder voice. We need to do the same for our boys.”

    High Points From Our Conversation on Decoding Boys – Understanding Boys’ Silence, Anger and Other Signals:

    understanding boys silence and angerOur daughters feel empowered to talk about the changes they are going through socially, emotionally, and physically as they go through puberty. Our sons retreat behind closed doors.

    We’ve done a good job as a society of giving our girls a louder voice. We need to do the same thing for our boys.

    Not only do our boys have body image issues, they also get the message that they shouldn’t have those feelings, that it’s a girls’ issue.

    When it comes to understanding boys we often go to their fathers. However, today’s dads were raised in a time where no-one talked to boys about puberty. These dads feel they turned out fine so they often don’t see a reason to change anything. However, life is different now. When boys retreat behind closed doors they’re not really alone. They have an entire world at their fingertips when they use a device.

    It makes good sense that if someone wants to be alone they should be able to do that. They should be able to spend some time with their thoughts, a book, playing music, or journaling. However, when they have a device it can lead them down a rabbit hole.

    Whatever you do, when you make a rule or discipline them, explain your rationale.

    So much of parenting revolves around change.

    While all children are different, the hormones that drive puberty are different for boys and girls. Testosterone drives boys and estrogen drives girls. Studies have shown that testosterone goes hand-in-hand with behaviors in the brain that are considered pageful or aggressive. Understanding boys means remembering that testosterone is surging through them throughout puberty and beyond.

    Our boys can’t change the flow of chemicals in their body but we can help them learn to manage the emotional swings just like we teach our girls about mood swings.

    Our boys need to understand using physical violence to solve a problem can have dire consequences. 

    There’s so much pressure for boys to look a certain way that many start taking testosterone or anabolic steroids. 

    Encourage your son to label his emotions. Ask him how he feels or to describe how he feels. You can ask him how his friends often feel and open a discussion around that.

    Boys need outlets for the anger that surges through them. They can try different things to see what works. Many boys need physical activity and the cortisol rush exercise provides—running, shooting hoops, push ups, pull ups, or anything that lets them get physical. Others do better with a mental or emotional activity like playing music, journaling, or meditating.

    After they’ve tried a strategy for dealing with the rush, have them inventory how it worked for them.

    Parents want to understand their sons so they need to open up conversations. When your child retreats behind a closed door, knock and insist on talking. Then really listen to them. 

    Talking may work better when you aren’t looking at each other. It’s fine if you sit on opposite sides of a door.

    Tell them, “I want to talk. I’m interested.” And keep at it. The conversation may be rejected or they may even walk out in the middle of one. That’s okay. Just keep showing up. The repetition shows your child you care.

    If your son is in his late teens or twenties, even thirties, and you still don’t really talk you can try this approach. Tell him you wish you had done this when he was a teen but you can’t change that so you’re doing it now.

    Resources Mentioned in Show:

    Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons.

    The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls

    Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys

    Our Guest Cara Natterson, M.D.:

    Cara Natterson, MD decoding boysCara Natterson, M.D., is a pediatrician, popular speaker, consultant, and New York Times bestselling author of multiple parenting and health books, including The Care and Keeping of You, a three-book series with more than six million copies in print, and Guy Stuff, the corollary for boys. A graduate of Harvard College and Johns Hopkins Medical School, Natterson trained in pediatrics at University of California at San Francisco. After working as a general pediatrician for many years, she founded Worry Proof Consulting, a first-of-its-kind practice offering parents open-ended time. She also provides medical expertise for numerous parenting websites and serves on several boards including Starlight Children’s Foundation, Mattel’s Barbie Council, The Honest Company medical advisors, and Zemcar. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two teenagers.

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit http://www.worryproofmd.com