WASHINGTON – If a teenage boy suddenly develops an “I don’t care” attitude, it might not be Mom or Dad’s fault.
New research shows girls have an increasing ability to recognize and understand what other people are feeling, called cognitive empathy, starting at age 13.
But this ability drops for boys between the ages of 13 and 16, before rising again when they reach their late teens.
The findings come from a study recently published in the journal Developmental Psychology.
Of course boys also have to deal with raging hormones and peer pressure.
“They’re under tremendous social pressure to act like a man, and many of them define that as acting detatched, aloof, (and) funny,” Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal’s Work & Family Columnist told WTOP.
If your child is acting this way, Shellenbarger suggested trying to talk to him about what’s going on.
“One thing you can say is, ‘I see you’re really acting pretty detatched. I know that isn’t who you really are. Is there anything I can do to help you? What are you dealing with right now?'”
“If a boy can start talking about what their emotional experience really is, it may help them manage those emotions and be more real with others,” she added.
Listen to Sue Shellenbarger’s interview on WTOP.
2:20 p.m. – Sue Shellenbarger, ‘Work & Family’ Columnist for the Wall Street Journal