Dr. Michele Borba Knows How to Help Boys Thrive

Dr. Michele Borba knows how to help boys thrive.

She’s a “boy mom” — a mother of 3 grown sons, educational psychologist, and the author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine.

Many boys are stressed but don’t tell their parents because “they don’t want to hurt us,” Dr. Borba says. They want and need coping skills, and aren’t getting what they need from school social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. And they’re really worried about “flunking life.”

It’s time for parents to pivot and refocus their parenting efforts. The first step, Dr. Borba says, is to prioritize mental health. The second step is to convince ourselves that it’s possible to teach resilience. Then we can turn our attention to…

7 Character Strengths That Will Help Boys Thrive

These 7 teachable character strengths can help children thrive, Dr. Borba says  — and inoculate them against peer pressure and bullying and allow them become peak performers in the classroom:

  1. Confidence. You can build your son’s confidence by focusing more on his strengths than his weaknesses.
  2. Empathy. Boys may exhibit empathy differently than girls. They may take a more cognitive than emotional approach, and that’s OK, Dr. Borba says.
  3. Self-control. “Every boy I interviewed said, ‘That’s what we need!'” Dr. Borba says. But boys don’t want only touchy-feeling stuff. They want to learn a repertoire of self-regulation techniques so they can choose what works for them in the moment.
  4. Integrity. A boy needs a strong moral code so that “when peer pressure comes, he doesn’t have to waver,” Dr. Borba says.
  5. Curiosity. “Thrivers are  open to ideas and possibilities, so when a problem comes — and it will — they don’t quit; they brainstorm,” Dr. Borba says.
  6. Perseverance, or the ability to keep going, even without external rewards.
  7. Optimism. Boys need to be solidly grounded in reality, but they also need to know how to find the silver lining.

Adding two or more of these skills together amplifies their impact, Dr. Borba says. (In other words: your son doesn’t need all 7 character strengths to thrive!)

In this episode, Jen, Janet & Dr. Borba discuss:
  • What kids think parents should focus on
  • The disconnect between many parenting book & what science has discovered about raising resilient, capable humans
  • 3 things that help kids thrive in spite of adversity
  • 7 characters strengths that help boys thrive
  • How hobbies help boys
  • Identifying your son’s interests
  • How to tell if your son’s video game use if problematic or healthy
  • How to NOT hinder your son’s interests
  • Redirecting pessimistic thoughts
  • Instilling hope
  • Empowering boys
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

micheleborba.com — Dr. Borba’s website

Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine  — Dr. Borba’s latest book

What You Need to Know About Boys & Suicide –– ON BOYS episode featuring Katey McPherson (mentioned at 11:26)

Dr. Phil episode featuring Dr. Borba & Thrivers

Addiction Inoculation w Jessica Lahey — ON BOYS episode

Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers — ON BOYS episode mentioned at 22:32

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