Of my two kids, my son is the most sensitive.
My daughter is basically my carbon copy. Though she is spirited and strong-willed, I find she is easy to parent because she’s so much like me. My little boy is a bit more difficult. Really, he’s a walking dichotomy. On one hand, he is so rough-and-tumble and full-throttle. On the other, he needs me to cuddle, console, and support him substantially more than his sister. Even when he’s having an absolute blast with the neighbourhood kids, he regularly comes and finds me to sit, be snuggled, and have a break. When something goes wrong, such as him being hurt or when something new is about to happen, his sensitivity comes out in full-force. In all honesty, he cries a lot.
Unfortunately for him, we live in a society where male sensitivity is not favoured. Not only is this well documented, I’ve heard comments such as, “My son is great, but he really needs to man up. He cries so easily.” The truth is, parenting a sensitive son can be challenging. However, there is such a gift in having a child who cares and feels deeply. After a good amount of time parenting a sensitive boy and based on a bit of research, here are some great strategies for supporting and strengthening your sensitive child (the tips are great for either gender).There is such a gift in parenting a child who feels and cares deeply. Click To Tweet
Tips on How to Help Your Sensitive Son “Man Up”
Don’t react before he does.
Whether you tense, gasp, anticipate his crying, or get frustrated, chances are your sensitive son will react even more than he would otherwise. For instance, if he falls and doesn’t react, simply praise his strength.
Never punish feelings.
Punishing crying likely will lead to more crying. In addition, Psychotherapist Lisa M. McCrohan states that punishing crying won’t lead “our children to be compassionate, empathetic, and confident kiddos.” To read more about how punishment negatively impacts our kids and why, click here.
Avoid statements such as “relax,” or “let it go.”
For one, these phrases don’t tell a little person a heck of a lot. Two, it’s dismissive and doesn’t show empathy. And it takes being the recipient of empathy to begin to understand empathy.Do you have a highly sensitive son? Here are positive #parenting tips to help him feel strong Click To Tweet
When he is upset, acknowledge his feelings.
Dismissing his crying or telling him to get over it won’t work. He needs to feel heard and comforted before he can move on. So, even if his problem seems inconsequential to you, phrases like, “You’re really upset, aren’t you,” or “That hurt didn’t it,” validate him and make him feel heard.
Yelling and chastizing only lead to feelings of fear and increased sadness. Not only that but staying calm sets an example for him to remain calm.
Have empathetic boundaries.
This may sound oxymoronic. However, having clear boundaries that show understanding and compassion are key. Know that doesn’t mean you should give in to crying if he wants something he can’t have. Reiterating limitations while expressing understanding goes a long way. Think of it this way: you’ve applied for a promotion at work. Your boss goes with someone else. There is a big difference in hearing, “You aren’t ready for the job. You need more experience,” compared to, “We could see your enthusiasm and really appreciate your application, but you didn’t get the job because the other candidate was more qualified.” Both tell you you’re not ready for the responsibility. One shows understanding and appreciate for where you’re coming from. Doing this for our sensitive children pays dividends.
Hug it out.
Not only does hugging show affection, it also decreases feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness.
Celebrate who he is.
Thank him for his warmth and affection. Praise what makes him him. The last thing a sensitive boy needs is to feel unsure about himself. Reinforcing what makes him great will serve him well throughout his lifetime, build his self-esteem, and keep his character strong.