Opting Out- Why Some Boys Give Up on School and How to Help them

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Welcome to my blog.  I am a clinical psychologist in New York City and in an affluent corner of New Jersey.  Over the years I have seen more and more teen-aged boys who lack the motivation to succeed in middle and high school.   They have ‘opted-out’ of the pressure and competition that so many kids in these communities face.  I launched this blog because the media coverage tends to focus on the problems of a super-achieving academic elite—those kids enrolled ...

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About Me

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Dr. Adam Price is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience working with children and teens.  As the former Director of Outpatient Services at Newark Beth Israel Hospital and Associate Director at Family Connections, a mental health agency, he has supervised and trained numerous clinicians in family and child therapy.  A true extrovert, Dr. Price thrives on connecting to others. His patients have come from all walks of life, and their ages have covered the life span from ...

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Maybe He Is Just Lazy?

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Someone who is lazy does not value hard work. He wants to find short cuts, take the easy way out.  This is downright un-American. We are a nation of hard-working, innovative, muscle to the grindstone, elbow-grease kind of people. I, however, do not really believe in laziness. In my experience as a therapist, those people who underperform or lack ambition usually have something blocking them from being more productive. Sometimes it is an emotional conflict (like being afraid to grow ...

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Marshmallow Eaters

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Years ago the psychologist Walter Mischel wanted to see what happened when he put toddlers together with marshmallow.  In a now famous study conducted at Stanford University’s in-house pre-school , he sat each four year old at a table, put one marshmallows and told them if they could wait till the experimenter came back, they would get to eat two marshmallows.   Some of the tikes were able to wait while others gobbled up the treat as soon as he left ...

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The Little Engine That Could

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Speaking of toddlers, kids who are eventually able to maximize their talents and strengths possess a vital trait, one they first learned about as toddlers when you read them The Little Engine That Could.  Remember the Little Engine’s Mantra: “I think I can.”  Psychologists would say that this little guy made it over the mountains not because he knew he could, but rather because he thought he could. It is this belief, known as in the clinical world as “self-efficacy,” ...

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Paddle Boats

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A patient related the following story: He and his daughter rented paddle boats one afternoon in Central Park. It was an early summer day, sunny and warm. However, as the father began to tire from all the paddling he wondered if age was finally creeping up on him. As he vowed to himself to get in better shape he looked over at his daughter and asked how she was doing. “Great,” she responded, with a big smile, looking fresh as ...

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Six Ways to Effectively Demotivate a Teenage Boy

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Over the course of working with many boys I’ve learned a lot about how to effectively help them. I’ve also seen my fair share of unhelpful behavior. Because it so often follows a few recurring patterns, I’d like to share some of the commonest, tried-and-true methods for demotivating your son. Some of them may surprise you.

  1. Tell him how smart he is.  My son has about 15 soccer trophies sitting on his shelf—most earned just for showing up to practice.  Since ...
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