Your Girl Talk May Be Making You Crazy


Despite what you may have learned from NBC’s “The More You Know” PSAs, scientists now say constantly encouraging kids to talk may not be such a great idea. A new study, which conveniently confirms gender stereotypes, found that boys really aren’t interested in talking, and girls are making themselves crazy by yapping about their problems too much.

Researchers from the University of Missouri conducted four different studies that included nearly 2,000 children and teens, according to PsychCentral. While it’s commonly thought that boys and men would like to discuss their problems, but think doing so would make them appear weak and unmanly, the study found that boys just don’t see the point in talking. Boys weren’t more likely than girls to say that they worried talking about their feelings would lead to bullying or make them embarrassed. However, they said that sharing their troubles would make them feel “weird” and like they were “wasting time.”

Study author Dr. Amanda J. Rose, an associate professor of psychological sciences, says that parents should realize boys aren’t just clamming up because they see emotional discussions as girly. Rather than just trying to convince boys that if they open up they won’t be met with a Nelson Muntz-style chuckle, parents need to take a step back and explain to their sons that there’s a benefit to talking. She says:

“For boys, it would be helpful to explain that, at least for some problems, some of the time, talking about their problems is not a waste of time. Yet, parents also should realize that they may be ‘barking up the wrong tree’ if they think that making boys feel safer will make them confide. Instead, helping boys see some utility in talking about problems may be more effective.”

Girls, on the other hand, need to learn that there are coping methods that don’t require lengthy discussions. The researchers say girls are partaking in “excessive problem talk,” which is linked to depression and anxiety.

Aside from giving kids better ways to deal with their teen angst, Rose says the research has implications for adult relationships. Girls in the study say they believe that talking about problems will make them feel cared for, understood, and less alone. Rose says that as adults, “women may really push their partners to share pent-up worries,” because they think that’s the best way to make them feel better. However, many men don’t grow up sharing those expectations about talking. Rose explains:

“Men may be more likely to think talking about problems will make the problems feel bigger, and engaging in different activities will take their minds off of the problem. Men may just not be coming from the same place as their partners.”

While the study will undoubtedly lead to quips about how women are all obnoxious, self-involved chatterboxes, that isn’t really the point of the research. Rose says parents need to encourage their kids to “adopt a middle ground when discussing problems.” Obviously talking can be therapeutic. The issue is that for some reason many girls get the message that it’s the only way to handle a problem, while boys are taught to rely solely on other coping skills. Kids need to learn that all of these methods are useful. As for adults, it’s good reminder that a partner of either gender probably has a different way of dealing with their issues, and trying to force them to do it your way is only going to create bigger problems.

Boys May Find Talking About Problems A ‘Waste of Time’ [PsychCentral]

Image via Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin