Consider Gender When Talking about Problems

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In a study at the University of Missouri, researchers found significant differences in how boys and girls think about talking about their problems. In four studies of more than 2,000 children and adolescents, researchers found that girls had positive expectations about talking about their problems, believing that talking would make them feel understood or less alone. Conversely, boys reported that they had more negative expectations about discussing problems, fearing that talking would embarrass them, make them worry about being teased, or cause them to believe they should have been able to handle the problems on their own.

Amanda Rose, an associate professor in the department of psychological services at the University of Missouri, said the study results should encourage parents and other adults to take a “middle ground” in discussing problems with adolescents. She said that it may be helpful to encourage boys to “see some utility” in talking about problems. She also cautioned that many girls can be “at risk for excessive problem talk, which is linked with depression and anxiety.”

The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Child Development.



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