Adam Price: “He’s Not Lazy”

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Dr. Adam Price’s book, He’s Not Lazy, is one that parents of teenage boys frequently recommend to each other.

There’s good reason for that: He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself addresses parents’ fears and concerns about their “unmotivated,” “under-performing” teenage sons.

Stop Worrying About Your Boys

Fear is usually at the heart of parents’ concern about their sons’ apparent lack of motivation. We know how important persistence and effort are to success and happiness in life, and we worry that our teenage sons will fail. But our worry is misplaced — and unhelpful, Dr. Price says.

“It’s imperative that you stop worrying,” he says, noting that “it’s the worrying that often causes us to make the wrong decisions in parenting.”

Don’t project into the future, he says. Focus on the here and now. Connect with your son; trust in his development.

Motivating Boys

Human beings are motivated to do the things we want to do. We are not necessarily motivated to do things we have to do.

That truth applies to our boys as well – & explains why so many boys are “unmotivated” to do their homework or chores. To get boys to do things, we need to give them more autonomy. And we need to let them experience consequences and emotions.

Too often, parents take on all the emotional and psychological labor related to boys’ performance in school. “We end up absorbing like a sponge all the negative feelings: You’re not going to do well. You’re not going to get into college,” Dr. Prica says. “What that actually does is free kids up to not worry about it because they know that we’re worrying about it.”

It’s better to let kids feel that conflict and struggle, to allow them space to worry about their future. Their concern for their future will motivate them in a way your concern never will.

Do NOT say, “you’re not living up to your potential.”

“When you tell someone, ‘You’re not living up to your potential,” you’re telling them, ‘You’re not good enough,'” Dr. Price says. Instead, focus on connecting with and empowering your son. Give him autonomy and continued support. Set limits, establish structure, and be patient. Give him the opportunity to grow and mature.

  • Parents should try to stop worrying excessively about their underperforming teenage boys and trust in their growth and development.
  • Teenagers are still young and have a lot of time for growth and change.
  • Motivation comes from doing things one wants to do, not things one has to do.
  • Parents should allow their sons to experience the consequences of their decisions and not shield them from negative feelings.
  • Recognize and value different forms of achievement, including skills in video games.
  • Parents should praise the process and effort rather than just the end result.
  • Gender expectations and societal pressures can influence boys’ motivation and self-esteem. Challenge negative assumptions about boys’ motivation and behavior.
  • Set realistic expectations and give kids the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Recognize that development takes time and maturity may happen at different rates.
  • Trust the relationship with your child and focus on building a positive and supportive environment.
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself, by Adam Price — Adam’s website

Listener Q & A:Getting Curious & Motivating Boys — ON BOYS episode

Maggie Dent on How to Motivate Boys — ON BOYS episode

Trust Your Boys — Building Boys blog post


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