Teenage Boys Love Buttons

Teenage boys love buttons. There are buttons on their computers, telephones, iPods, Gameboys, Playstations, Wiis, X-boxes, remotes . . . on and on . . . teenage boys love buttons.

Now, imagine a roomful of parents (or other grown ups) coming to listen to someone talk about teenage boys. The speaker walks in with a BIG box of buttons and passes a bunch out to each grown up.

Why? Because the buttons teenage boys love more than any others are the ones they “push” on the grown ups: you know as in “he pushes my buttons.”

You might imagine it is his favorite activity with grown ups: pushing their buttons.

In his eyes, it is irresistible. Parents and grown ups come with all kinds of sensitivities, reactivenesses, issues, pet peeves, and even important values that they get worked up about. He sees buttons in front of him all lit up in a dazzling array of lights and colors just aching to be pushed.

It’s irresistible. And push he does and then: Wow! Watch the incredible display of fireworks and actions all in three dimensional color and sound complete with actions & movements that initially captivates his attention but in time becomes boring.

But, oh . . . oh . . . oh. He cannot resist those buttons. When they’re there staring him straight in the face he feels like they’re almost begging to be pushed. He’s just got to do it . . . lean right in and . . . push those babies.

And POW: there goes the show! It is truly amazing. He’ll either sit back and “enjoy” the performance or just jump right in and join the “fun” himself. It’s kind of like a family version of one of those mystery dinner/theatre things where the audience gets involved with the characters in the story. Only, he’s always part of the story in this one. Ask any grown up.

In fact, they’re always asking, “why does he do that? Why does he push my buttons?” This leads to all kinds of stress and strain. They start wondering if there is something wrong with their parenting (or whatever the “grown-up-ing” is). Or they form all kinds of nasty and ugly opinions about their boys (to which they usually feel guilty about too). And they talk about it with their friends and family and even with the boy: all to no avail. It happens over . . . and over . . . and over again!

Drives the grown ups absolutely nuts! And try as they might they just cannot seem to get him to quit pushing their buttons.

Oh, he might take a break for a little while. A few days here and there. Maybe even a week or two. Then, he just cannot resist it any longer and POW, he DOES IT AGAIN . . . the little monster.

To fully appreciate this I recommend you read the columns on boredom, seeks change and games. Combined together, they’ll help fill out the picture and give you a lot more insight into button pushing.

But, the really simple answer to the question, “why does he push my buttons?” is . . . because they’re there . . . and teenage boys love pushing buttons.

©2012 Ted Braude

Related: Issues, Books

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Youth is wholly experimental. - Robert Louis Stevenson


Ted Braude is an expert on boys: known as “the dragon tamer” and the “boy whisperer.” A mentor, a martial artist, a musician, a writer and a counselor, he brings boys into young manhood. No small feat. He serves their interests, goals and desires, helping them become who they want to be. He’s kind of a “dream wizard.” As a mentor/counselor, he’s served boys in their quest for manhood for 30 years. As a martial artist, he is a second degree black belt in the Japanese martial art Aikido, training with the internationally known Ki master Katsumi Niikura Sensei. As a musician, he has been a professional and amateur multi-instrumentalist and singer since he was six years old. As a writer, he is a former columnist for The Detroit Free Press and The Daily Tribune newspapers and a host of journals & publications. He is the local point man for Boys to Men Mentoring Network in Michigan, a remarkable program that joins boys and men together in a community bringing the boys into young manhood and he is the Director of the BoysWork Project. Royal Oak, Michigan. Contact Ted at E-Mail or or 586-825-6483. An audio version of this column is available at

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