GoodTherapy | Master Class for Boys

GoodTherapy | Master Class for Boys

by Jocelyn Markowicz, Psychologist, PhD, in San Diego, CA

Our young boys need support. Reeves, Buckner and Smith, 2021, show that fewer boys are graduating high school. Women currently make up 60% of college enrollment, while men account for 40% (Marcus 2002). Many theories and opinions are available to explain why young boys are falling behind. One theory suggests that young boys growing up in working-class households are susceptible to entanglements, which can lead to them acting out and then becoming disengaged as a result of repeated reprimands (Nolan 2019, 2019). Can we help our young boys meet life’s challenges and achieve great success? Perhaps the G.O.A.T.s will help us to navigate this road.

G.O.A.T. G.O.A.T. stands for Greatest of All Time (Gurnett 2019, 2019). G.O.A.T.s are male athletes such as Tom Brady (N.F.L. Michael Jordan (retired N.B.A. player). player), Babe Ruth (deceased N.B.L. player), Babe Ruth (deceased N.B.L. player), and Anderson Silva (former M.M.A. Among others. The G.O.A.T.s together can help our young boys be more self-confident, resilient, hardworking, and have greater self-confidence. They are a model of success for young boys. Continue reading to learn more about the G.O.A.T.s, and find book recommendations that will help you follow those lessons.


Master Class for Boys - A Can-Do AttitudeTom Brady’s Lesson About Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy, or the belief in one’s capability to perform a given task, is a factor shown to predict success (Usher, Li, Butz, & Rojas, 2019). Self-efficacy says, “I can do this.” A large body of research has shown self-efficacy to be an important precursor to success (Bandura, 1997; Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2016). Tom Brady, a well-known G.O.A.T., once said, “A lot of times I find that people who are blessed with the most talent don’t overdevelop that attitude and the ones who aren’t blessed in that way are the most competitive and have the biggest hearts.” Tom Brady’s self-efficacy is in part, responsible for his success as a seven-time winner of the Super Bowl. He is also a graduate of the University of Michigan. A Can-Do Attitude: Understanding self-efficacyCaitie MacAneney has written a beautiful book that helps children master self-efficacy.


Master Class for Boys - Grit for KidsMichael Jordan’s and Lebron James’s Lessons About Resiliency and Grit

Resilient individuals can become stressed, but they are able to demonstrate stability in their social, psychological, and physical well-being in these situations, despite the adversity with which they are faced (Black & Dorstyn, 2015). Lebron James inspires young men to continue their pursuits despite what they have been through. He once said, “I think the reason why I am who I am today is because I went through those tough times when I was younger.” In essence, he gives young boys a framework to develop resiliency, which is only attainable through experiencing hard times. Dr. Angela Duckworth defines “grit” as a facet of conscientiousness involving the combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Research has shown that grit is a key ingredient to success (Duckworth and Matthews (2007). Michael Jordan is a University of North Carolina graduate. He won six NBA championships during his career. Lebron James, a high school graduate, went straight to the NBA after high school. He believes in education and has opened an Ohio school called I Promise. He has won four national championships. Lee David Daniels is a great guide to help boys develop grit. Grit for Kids: 16 Steps to Develop Grit, Passion and Power in Kids for Self-Confidence, a Successful Life and for Yourself.


Master Class for Boys - Teach ResponsibilityBabe Ruth’s and Anderson Silva’s Lessons About Hard Work

The power of hard work is evident in the sheer number of people who praise it. Babe Ruth once said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” A study investigating the power of work socialization messages from mothers found that for boys, greater frequency of conventional messages (e.g., importance of discipline, hard work, and skills for job success) was associated with stronger endorsement of hard work for success. Anderson Silva, a former mixed martial arts (M.M.A.). Anderson Silva, a former competitor in Mixed Martial Arts (M.M.A.) agreed that hard work is key to success. He offered sound advice: “If you train 100% [sic] the result will be 100%.” Babe Ruth was a high school graduate who secured a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Anderson Silva was the child of an impoverished family. He worked at McDonald’s and later as a file clerk before becoming an M.M.A. He is a competitor. He holds the record of the longest reigning U.F.C. title. History. Dr. Debora Gilboa has written a wonderful book entitled Teach responsibility: Empower kids with a great work ethicThis is a great tool to help parents encourage a desire for hard work in their sons.


Master Class for Boys - Being MeMuhammad Ali’s and Ric Flair’s Lessons about Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is your overall assessment of your worth (Minev and colleagues, 2018). Self-esteem is dynamic and easily influenced by life experiences. The amenability of self-esteem gives parents wonderful gateways into shaping their sons’ self-esteem. Boys develop self-esteem from birth. Then, their perceptions of their worth are shaped by their life experiences. “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was,” Muhammad Ali infamously said, demonstrating his unparalleled confidence. Rik Flair is also known for his unabashedly strong self confidence. He once said, “When somebody has convinced you that you’re not worth anything to anybody anymore, and they spend a lot of time doing it, you start believing it yourself.” Ric Flair recognized the dynamic trait of self-esteem and the influence experiences with people can have. Both Muhammad Ali, and Ric Flair used their self confidence to propel them towards their success. Muhammad Ali was the world champion boxer and was elected to The Boxing Hall of Fame. Check out Being Me: A Kid’s Guide to Boosting Confidence and Self-EsteemWendy L. Moss PhD, a beautiful book for parents to help their sons gain the same confidence as Ric Flair and Muhammad Ali throughout their careers.


Helping Boys Find Success

G.O.A.T.s provide a great pathway for young boys to become the next G.O.A.T. of business, engineering, medicine, sports broadcasting, painting — you name it. The lessons of greatness can be learned from anyone. Teach him well, and let him learn from the greats who have gone before him. Perfection is not the only way to success. You can only succeed through perseverance. I encourage parents and guardians to take the next step in G.O.A.T. master class for boys, by working hard to help their boys develop the character traits necessary for success.

Is it difficult to know how to support your child and provide care? Feeling at your wit’s end about parenting? You might need a psychotherapist. Start your search now.

Refer to

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy is the ability to exercise control. W H Freeman/Times Books/Henry Holt & Co.

Black, R., & Dorstyn, D. (2015). Multi-sclerosis resilience using a biopsychosocial model. Journal of Health Psychology. 20. 1434-1444

Camacho-Thompson, D. E., Gonzalez, N. A., & Tien, J. Y. (2019). Parental Academic Involvement Across Adolescence Contextualized By Gender and Parenting Pracies. American Psychological Association, Vol. 34, No. 4, 386–397.

Cobbett, M. (2014). Being ‘nuff’ and ‘scudding class’: Exploring girls’ and boys’ perceptions of popularity, gender and achievement in Antiguan secondary schools. British Educational Research Journal, 40(1), 45–62.

Complex Sports. (2019, 16 February). G.O.A.T. G.O.A.T.. Complex.

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101.

Gurnett, B. (2019). Making the Case For The Greatest of All Time. Sterling Publishing, 5.

Minev, M., Petrova, B., Mineva, K., Petkova, M., & Strebkova, R. (2018). Self-esteem among adolescents. Trakia Journal of Science. 16. 114-118

Larissa, N. Boys don’t try? Why are so many male students failing to catch up at school? Retrieval date: May 17 2021

Jon, Marcus. The pandemic is accelerating the mass disappearances of college-aged men. Retrieval date: May 17, 2021

Reeves, R. V., BuEliana Buckner, & Ember Smith. The unreported gender gap in high-school graduation rates. Retrieval date: May 17, 2021

Schunk, D. H., & DiBenedetto, M. K. (2016). Self-Efficacy theory for Education. Handbook of Motivation at School: Second edition (pp. 34-52.

Usher, E. L., Li, C. R., Butz, A. R., & Rojas, J. P. (2019). Perseverant grit and self-efficacy: Are both essential for children’s academic success? Journal of Educational Psychology. 111. No. 5, 877–902.

K. Weir (2020, February 1). The gritty truth.


© Copyright 2021 All rights reserved. Jocelyn Markowicz (Psychologist), granted permission to publish

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