I have a little boy with a big heart, and this big heart of his makes him extra sensitive. He is a strong, sensitive boy, and as I parent, I work on guarding his heart and raising him with his sensitivity in mind. Did you know that 20 percent of children are highly sensitive? Although most would assume sensitivity is something girls experience, it is equal in boys.
For us it looks like long adjustment periods between activities, extreme attachment to mom and dad, need for full time attention, ability to notice other people’s emotions, overwhelm in new and loud environments, sensitivity to smell, touch, taste, sound, and visual clutter, and intense emotional overwhelm.
Raising a sensitive boy can be difficult at first because it requires a heightened sense (go figure) and attention to detail, it requires getting places early to allow for adjustment times, leaving places early due to overwhelm, and detailed coordination of activities.
It may seem like a difficult card to be dealt, but I prayed for a strong sensitive boy with a big heart and God granted my wish. Now I work to understand him and give him the best opportunity to harness his sensitivity for the better.
I do worry about the world breaking his spirit, especially when boys receive messages about being “tough” or “not crying like a girl”. In a masculine society, sensitive boys have a hard time recognizing their sensitivity as a positive rather than a curse.
Some of the world’s best leaders were sensitive boys. Some of these include Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, and Robert Frost. Sensitive children have an innate ability to recognize the emotions of others, to empathize with others, and fight injustice.
How do we bring out the best in our sensitive children?
- Create a calm nurturing environment in your home: make home a safe place, where he is allowed to express pent up emotions.
- Validate his emotions by giving words to his feelings and allowing him to verbalize them.
- Practice gentle discipline: sensitive boys have an incredibly hard time with discipline because it can feel like a direct attack, which leads to feelings of inadequacy.
- Allow for down time for decompression from activities: Sensitive boys struggle with transitions and overwhelm. Having quiet time or alone time is beneficial. Allowing extra time between activities for decompression decreases the number of breakdowns.
- Foster secure attachment by spending quality time together as a pair. Do activities he likes and take a true interest in the things he finds interesting.
- Teach him to express his emotions in positive outlets: through breathing techniques (this is a go to in our home), yoga, creative or physical activity in which he can work through some of those emotions, and through example.
- Promote healthy boundaries by modeling those behaviors, emphasizing the importance of respect, and validating his need to please everyone and informing him that it is not selfish to say no.
Do you have a sensitive child? If so, how do you parent them? Any tips or tricks are appreciated.