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The “man box” doesn’t leave much room for sensitive boys.
Society prefers rough-and-tumble boys and men — the strong, stoic types who lift heavy loads and “buck up,” rather than cry, when injured or down. So how do we help our sensitive boys navigate a world that doesn’t value their sensitivity?
“Sensitive boys are very, very special human beings,” says Dr. Sandy Gluckman, a psychologist based in Texas. “The problem is that society, parents and teachers tend to see their sensitivity as a weakness.”
The truth, though, is that the ability to sense and respond to others’ feelings is a gift, as is the ability to experience art, music and life on a deep, emotional level.
“They need to learn to own their own feelings, but not the feelings of others,” Sandy says. Because sensitive children absorb the feelings of others’, you may need to help your son untangle his emotions from others. You can explain that “the sadness you’re feeling from David is not yours, so you don’t need to pick it up,” Dr. Sandy says. Tell you son, “you can have empathy or compassion for David, but it should not change your energy or the way you feel about yourself or what you’re doing.”
Sensitive parents can help their sons by narrating their own experiences with sensitivity.
In this episode, Jen, Janet & Sandy discuss:
- Characteristics of sensitive children
- Parenting sensitive boys
- Why sensitivity can feel like a burden
- Helping boys appreciate & embrace the gifts of sensitivity
- Social challenges for sensitive boys
- How to strengthen your son’s self-concept
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
Helping Boys Become Resilient w Dr. Sandy Gluckman — our first ON BOYS conversation w Sandy
You Asked About Age 14, Implicit Bias and Sensitive Boys –– ON BOYS episode
Sensory Processing Disorder (w Nancy Peske) — ON BOYS episode