Write me: rebecca@positive-parents.org

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I recently finished The Strong, Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff.  I found the book very insightful into my son’s sensitivity and wanted to share with you what I have discovered. I only have sons, and this book was obviously about sensitive boys, but if you have a sensitive daughter, you may want to read The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. For this post, I will be discussing the particular issue of raising a sensitive son.

If you suspect your son may be highly sensitive, here is a questionnaire for you to take. I began to suspect my first child was highly sensitive when he was a toddler, and I ran across this questionnaire then. I checked “true” on every single thing on that list. He was, and is, a wonderful child, but dealing with his high sensitivity hasn’t always been easy, and is, at times, quite perplexing.  In fact, his sensitivity led me to non-punitive discipline because I could see that even what I considered to be gentle discipline at the time (time out) was just heartbreaking for him.

Something the author discusses in this book is how our culture, particularly here in America, is hostile to sensitivity. We live in a society that disdains sensitivity so that sensitive boys are bullied and misunderstood. “The sensitive boy who reacts deeply to stimuli and exhibits emotional sensitivity is perfectly normal. However, there’s something wrong with a society that shames males who do not act in a tough, aggressive, and emotionally repressed manner – especially when such a significant portion of the population simply isn’t cut out for or comfortable with these behaviors. When sensitive boys do not conform to the stereotypical ‘boy code’ and instead express compassion, gentleness, and vulnerability, they are frequently ostracized and humiliated.” (Zeff) As Elaine Aron puts it, “The world and all of its people and species would be better off if every culture valued gentle thoughtfulness in its men.” It’s time for society to recognize that 20% of our boys are highly sensitive, or have a “finely tuned nervous system” as Zeff calls it, and to give them the support, skills, and love that they need to grow into strong, happy, confident men.

As I said, I began to realize my own son’s sensitivity when he was a toddler. He would easily startle, hate surprises, not want to be in crowds (no big birthday parties, and please do not sing to him!), and was sensitive to noise. He had a slight aversion to scratchy material and tags and was (and is!) a picky eater. I didn’t realize then that perhaps the textures of some foods bothered him. He was extremely witty for a 2 year old, and he also noticed subtle changes as said on the questionnaire. If we’d go to a grandparent’s house, he could immediately point out what had been moved since he was last there. His sensitivity really became an issue to me when I first started “disciplining” him. I’ve said before, I started out disciplining him like everyone else I knew disciplined their children with the exception of spanking which always felt wrong to me. I used several methods to “gain control” such as time outs and counting to 3. He wouldn’t “just be upset” when I put him in time out. He would literally be heartbroken. Of course, I was told he was just manipulating me so he wouldn’t have to go to time out, but I know my child. He wanted to please us. He was doing the best he could at his developmental level. So, when I isolated him for what I perceived to be misbehavior, it affected him on a much deeper level. He felt deep shame and guilt and it would last far past when the time out was over. 

Now, that 2 year old is a 6 year old. While I have learned that gentle correction is all that is needed for him, there have still been plenty of challenges. He feels pain more acutely than most, so any small scratch or bruise is an event. He scraped his elbow just a few days ago and you would have thought he’d broken his arm. Just getting a Band-Aid on took a good 20 minutes because he kept saying “I need a minute! I’m not ready!” In a culture that thinks he ought to “rub some dirt on it and get over it,” even I find it trying to maintain my patience when he has a fit over a scratch.

He still doesn’t like birthday parties. He refuses to learn to ride a bike because he may fall and get hurt. In fact, he is super cautious in all of his play. He is very attuned to the moods of those around him and seems to absorb their feelings and energy. He cries at commercials regarding hungry children and homeless animals. I have to screen his movies. The end of Ice Age was too much. Perhaps the biggest challenge was public school. Kindergarten went okay because his teacher understood his sensitivity and accepted him the way he was. She also used a positive reinforcement system of earning rewards rather than a punitive system of discipline. While there were certainly some tears due to separation, he thrived in Kindergarten. However, in first grade, he became a different child. The punitive discipline system used in that class created a lot of anxiety in him. Even though he, himself, was very careful to “stay in line,” he felt for the other children and he was greatly bothered by seeing them “in trouble.” The fear of being sent to the principal’s office for a paddling    was on his mind constantly, even though I assured him they were not allowed to paddle him. Still, knowing other kids were getting paddled upset him. By the middle of the first semester, he was crying every morning and begging not to go. He was exhibiting some anxious behaviors and, even when he was home for the evening or the weekend, he had a sad and anxious demeanor.

I made the decision over Christmas break to pull him out of public school to homeschool him, and even that provided yet another challenge. I chose a Charlotte Mason-based curriculum, which requires a lot of reading of literary classics. Many of the stories were simply too violent for him. He would ask me not to read words such as “kill” or “die.” After one particular history story of a battle long ago, he couldn’t go to sleep. He kept telling me those “bad words” were upsetting him. I had to ditch the entire curriculum and start fresh.

Would I trade his sensitivity? Absolutely not!! While it has presented challenges, he is a special and amazing child. His compassion is humbling. His intuitiveness is amazing. He is witty, humorous, bright, and extraordinarily creative. He inspires me daily, and I tell him often that he is a wonderful asset to this world, and he is.

So, back to some insights from Zeff’s book:

“What is the difference between a highly sensitive boy and a non-highly sensitive boy? A highly sensitive boy has trouble screening out stimuli and can be easily overwhelmed by noise, crowds, and time pressure. The HSB (highly sensitive boy) tends to be very sensitive to pain and violent movies. He is also made extremely uncomfortable by bright lights, strong smells, and changes in his life. The highly sensitive boy’s nervous system is ‘wired’ in such a way that he is more acutely aware of, and attuned to, himself, other people, and his environment   The highly sensitive boy generally reacts more deeply and exhibits more emotional sensitivity  However, the degree of emotional and psychological reactions varies in each boy. For example, one HSB may not be bothered by noise or crowds but is made uncomfortable by strong smells and scratchy fabrics. Although the trait has a high correlation with introversion, approximately 30% of HSBs are extroverts.” (Zeff)

“Most boys are taught from an early age to act tough and repress their emotions. In particular, sensitive boys learn to deny their real selves in order to be accepted and approved of by their peers. This denial can create fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem.” (Zeff)

In their book Raising Cain, authors Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson state that if boys express emotions such as fear, anxiety, or sadness, they are commonly seen as feminine. The effect on males of having to conform to wearing a tough-guy mask creates suffering on both a personal and societal level and is particularly devastating for the sensitive boy, who has to try harder than the average boy to repress his emotions.

“While sensitive males may not be warriors fighting on foreign battlefields, their battles take just as much courage. Fighting to uphold righteousness in society takes a strong backbone and much fortitude. Personal and global peace can only be achieved through the resurrection of such masculine heroes as Jesus, Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. It takes a strong man to speak the truth about morality, virtue, and justice as these great spiritual leaders have done.” (Zeff)

Positive Traits of the Sensitive Male, according to Zeff:

  • Compassion
  • Gentleness
  • The ability to act as a peacemaker
  • Concern about the humane treatment of animals
  • A sense of responsibility
  • Conscientiousness
  • Creativity
  • The tendency to feel love deeply
  • A great intuitive ability
  • An awareness of his unity with all beings
  • The ability to have and appreciate deep spiritual experiences
Your son is in good company, sharing these traits with such famous highly sensitive males as Abraham Lincoln, Carl Jung, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
So what can you do as a parent?
“Recognizing these positive tendencies and abilities in your boy will give you the opportunity to support and even celebrate him. Children of such supportive parents develop high self esteem and will uphold the highest values in society. A positive and secure bond of attachment between mother and son is important in any family but is essential for the sensitive boy. There is a societal myth that boys don’t need as much love and protection as girls. Even with infant and toddler boys, there is a strong belief out there that we should encourage them to be tough and avoid “coddling” them. Hence, boys are frequently forced to separate from their mothers too early as society encourages them to become physically and emotionally independent of mom at an early age. Without the model of a strong connection with the first important woman in their lives, some men who experienced a lack of early childhood nurturance don’t quite know how to bond with women later on. Mom has a pivotal role in helping her son feel that he is a worthwhile human being, in spite of messages that he may receive from his peers, teachers, and the media that there is something wrong with him. At times, this may feel like an added responsibility, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for moms to share a special closeness with their sons and actively participate in helping them flourish. Your sensitive son will easily notice subtleties in your interactions with him, so even if you are supportive of your son, it’s important that he really knows hat you deeply understand and appreciate his sensitivity.” (Zeff)
However, we must also be careful not to become too overly protective. One HSM from the book said “I think that my mom became overly protective of me, which didn’t help me learn how to cope with the aggressive world that I had to deal with every day at school. In retrospect, it probably would have been better for me to have been more involved in activities outside the home rather than spending so much of my childhood at home.” Zeff adds, “A mom should encourage her son to engage in outside activities with other children while making sure that he feels safe in those ventures.”  He concludes, “When a mom encourages her sensitive boy, even if he has challenges outside the home, his mother’s love and support will live in his heart forever, and he will be able to grow into a more confident man.”

It’s important that everyone involved in his care is educated on your son’s sensitivity, including grandparents, daycare workers, teachers, nannies, family members, and babysitters. Explain the trait of sensitivity to them and ask that they be respectful of him. If you suspect that anyone who cares for him is being disrespectful or harsh with him, take action on behalf of your son.

Lastly, Zeff discusses gentle discipline in his book by stating, “Your sensitive son can learn a lesson better when he is calm and receptive, so when you are disciplining your son, it’s vital to talk to him in a gentle manner. If mom (or dad) screams at her sensitive boy when he misbehaves, he will become more frightened and upset by her anger than a non-HSC. Sensitive boys generally tend to feel guilty when they make mistakes, so there is no need for harsh discipline. It also helps when disciplining the sensitive boy to encourage him to express how he’s feeling and to ask him to express what he wants. For instance, you could ask him to repeat, “I’m feeling frustrated since I want to play with my car instead of putting my coat on.” This technique helps your son move from being overwhelmed by emotions to knowing how to manage them.”
According to Zeff, here are some specific guidelines to help you on your way:
  • Listen to your sensitive son and let him know that you acknowledge and accept his physical and emotional sensitivity.
  • Talk with your son about all the positive aspects of being a sensitive boy.
  • Let your son know that everybody is different and that differences should be respected. 
  • Never tolerate anyone shaming your son’s sensitivity. If you see that your boy is experiencing shame, try to counteract the feeling by gently pointing out the fallacy of the thinking behind it and letting your son know how wonderful you know he is. 
  • Tell your son about famous people and spiritual leaders who share his trait.
  • If you accidentally criticize your son’s sensitivity, quickly apologize and tell him that you made a mistake.
  • Try to be vigilant about not putting your son into situations where he will be humiliated. Listen closely to his responses about activities and relationships and if he seems very uncomfortable, help him remove himself from the situation. 
  • Remove him from environments that diminish his self-esteem.
  • Show your son how to set personal boundaries with others.
  • Frequently reassure your son that he always has your support and show him the truth of this statement by backing it up with actions.
This is a huge topic and cannot be covered entirely in a blog post, but if you have a highly sensitive son, I highly recommend you read the books mentioned in this post.

Rebecca Eanes, is the founder of positive-parents.org and creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. She is the author of 3 books. Her newest book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, will be released on June 7, 2016 and is available for pre-order now. The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting and a co-authored book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles in Action in Early Childhood are both best-sellers in their categories on Amazon. She is the grateful mother to 2 boys. 


  • jackie Posted 24 April 2013 11:06

    Great post! I am reading both books now, and they are so helpful. Your post here is great to share with friends/family that may not read the books, but could really benefit from your synopsis. Thanks!

  • Rebecca Posted 7 May 2013 10:55

    Thank you, Jackie. I'm so glad you're enjoying the books!

  • mudpiemama Posted 10 May 2013 6:57

    Becky, this is such a great post, sharing it as I am sure many parents will find the information so helpful, especially how you broke down the specific guidelines. thank you!! Ariadne

  • The InTune Mother Posted 21 May 2013 6:22

    Wow…this was a wonderful post. I have a sensitive son on my hands maybe two… I am definitely gonna read the suggestions… Thanks!

  • Ginny Posted 4 June 2013 16:54

    Oh my goodness, I could have written this article! We also pulled our sensitive son from traditional school after first grade and we're now on our fourth year of homeschooling and it is a very happy environment for all of us. Great article.

  • Jamie Posted 4 June 2013 16:54

    These things you talk about are huge traits of sensory processing challenges for some kiddos. My son is one of them….it's amazing how far we have come in acknowledging that certain children are just "wired" differently. Occupational therapy has helped tremendously in alleviating some of the anxiety associated with these types of sensitivities. 🙂

  • Shannon Posted 4 June 2013 16:55

    I have two sensitive sons, but they are sensitive in much different ways. My younger son is very extroverted, so people tend to miss his sensitivity, and then get frustrated when something happens and he doesn't just go along with them. I have looked at both of these books before, but haven't read either yet. I will read them now!

  • Jenny Tieman Posted 7 June 2013 7:21

    I am curious if there is follow up research on HSM. Long have I noticed that men who are highly sensitive seem to struggle with much of the above but in doses that are sometimes insurmountable. It would be interesting research to be sure.

  • Rick Belden Posted 30 June 2013 8:42

    Hi Rebecca,
    As a Highly Sensitive Man, I'd like to thank you for this excellent post. You may also be interested in my recent post on this topic called "I am a Highly Sensitive Man" (http://bit.ly/XMNBjo). There is a follow-up post available at the bottom of that one called "Welcoming the new generation of Highly Sensitive Men" that may be of interest as well.

    Kind regards,
    Rick Belden

  • Jenny Pepster Posted 22 August 2013 12:58

    Thank you for this! My son went through the exact same thing, except I couldn't homeschool him (God, I wish!). Now I have to learn how to be sensitive to his needs, and I feel so helpless. He was accelerated in school for being very smart, but now it seems he's finding it hard to cope since last year at first grade, and now he's in second grade.

  • Sarah Roberts Posted 17 September 2013 8:01

    Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you for posting this. I have a highly sensitive daughter – and just as you described – will point out things that have changed in a grandparent's house, remembers things from before she was 2 years old, a slight scrape is dealt with as if she broke her leg, and she refuses to ride her bike, too. I am glad that there are other parents who have experienced the same things, and to see that there are ways to help us and our children deal with it. My daughter just began kindergarten and I have some serious concerns, but I am willing to try it, but also prepared that I may have to pull her out and homeschool her if necessary. I am going to read these books, too.
    Thanks so much!

  • Anonymous Posted 8 October 2013 6:10

    You have just perfectly described my middle son. He is my delicate flower who will not ride a bike, will not get dirty and is extremely sensitive to sound, light and reactions from others. He is off the charts intelligent (like his daddy) and I really want to homeschool him but dad doesn't think it's a good idea. I'm going to persist in my homeschool desire, though. I think it would be a great experience for my son and I.

  • Anonymous Posted 8 October 2013 6:10

    Thank you for writing such a great article on this topic. I have a Highly Sensitive daughter and found Elaine Aron's book to be extremely insightful. I was baffled by my daughter's sensitivity to time-out and even a stern voice, but after reading the book, I feel I understand a lot more of her perspective. I recently wrote a post about introversion and high sensitivity if you are interested: http://juicygreenmom.ca/rant-introversion-and-sensitivity-are-not-disorders/

  • yudith setyawati Posted 7 January 2014 17:07

    Hi Rebecca,
    I have a highly sensitive son, 3 years, and your article is perfectly inspiring me.
    I need more friend here to share about this to motivate each other.
    Thank you so much… (from Indonesia)

  • yudith setyawati Posted 7 January 2014 17:07

    Becky, thank you so much for your inspiring and great article. I starting to read Zeff's book for understanding my lovely highly sensitive son (3 years)…. i need more friend like you and other moms for sharing it (Yudith in Malang, East Java – Indonesia)

  • Akdodd81 Posted 10 January 2014 9:46

    Wow thank you so much for this helpful and eye opening post. My son(3) tells me everyday that "I'm too smelly"(my husband assures me I'm not lol). He is highly sensitive to music and if anyone other than me speaks sternly at all (ie grandparent etc) he will dissolve into tears. I knew something was unusual when my daughter was born (he was 20 months at the time) it has been extremely challenging as I feel his feelings were deeply injured by her intrusion. He tells me all the time he loves me and turns to his sister and says" I don't like you". He picks his fingers while lying in bed trying to go to sleep. He knows exactly how I'm feeling whether it be sad, happy angry without me saying a word. His ability to read emotions is outstanding. At daycare he is kind and gentle well liked , he helps the other children when they are sad or hurt. This post has been a huge eye opener to some things I am doing wrong. An interesting thing is that having read this, I was most certainly a highly sensitive child. Thank you again

  • MARIANA GRINBLAT Posted 14 January 2014 17:51

    thank you for your insightful comments and I have a very bright grown up child who is very sensitive and I am learning to deal with that, even if he is all grown up. he is all worth it, tx again, MG

  • Tessa W Posted 16 February 2014 10:56

    This is my son. Actually, both of my sons (almost 6 and 3). Sensitive in different ways but most certainly sensitive. I have a strong gut feeling that my 3rd son is highly sensitive as well. It's a beautiful thing to have recognized this when my first was just a baby so, although we have our rough days, I've been able to acknowledge and learn to appreciate their sensitivities. I'm going to read the book you recommended and I wanted to share a book that I really liked: The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle. I wrote recently briefly comparing my two older boys to my friends' two boys who are more the societally accepted boys of rambunctious and energetic. Here's a link to it, if anyone is interested in reading: http://aimedattheheart.com/2014/02/03/positive-parenting-handbook-honoring-childs-nature/
    Thank you so much for this post1

  • Catherine Gruener Posted 27 February 2014 8:01

    Your article was included in the Parenting Gifted Children Party (blog hop) and I was thrilled to read it. http://www.positivedisciplineandgiftedchildren.com/2014/02/february-parenting-gifted-children-party.html What a great article. As a courtesy we add you to our Pinterest Parenting Gifted Pin Party Board. http://www.pinterest.com/gruenerconsults/parenting-gifted-pin-parties/. Thank you for writing and contributing for gifted children.
    Catherine Gruener

  • Jennifer Harper Posted 4 March 2014 14:26

    Sounds like a hightened or hyper sensitivity disorder. I get physically sick at times from noise, smells, and movement. Sometimes are worse than others. Helpful hint…when its at its worst, I seem to feel better if I can lay in a tub of water. It seems to insulate me from the stimuli. Ive slept in the tub many nights. Doctors are no help. I hav panic attacks in large crowds depending on the time and place. Its not consistent. Ive been told by a doctor im weird…not. I googled my symptoms and found out there are others with my symptoms and lots of them. Also a nice disorder name for it. Look for future problems with digestion. Which doctors say has nothing to do with it but its a common trait. Guess what doctors wont ever admit to it but they aren't quite sure how our body's are wired and how one thing affects another. They dnt know about nerves. I think its more common now than when I was growing up. Im 40yrs old. Dr attitudes hav changed. Women…I had the worst trouble during my pregnancies. My daughter, second pregnancy almost killed me literally. Like I said its not a consistent thing either. One day I may be able to tolerate… I do mean tolerate in the full sense of the word its bothersome but tolerated… a smell or tv show ect. The next day those same sights and sounds will make me motion sick. Or the same smell will make me physically sick. When I was pregnant constant sound like from a tv or radio made me motion sick. I didnt partake at all while I was pregnant. I could go on and on about this but wont. Trust me on this your child will adapt. It hurts to see them hurt but you have to let them become used to the world. If you shelter them away from it all during developmental years they will need to live in a bubble for the rest of their lives. The body is amazing. A person born this way adapts. Thats why its not a consistent thing. Adaptation. Now I definitely would let my kid adapt, at least to begin with, where he feels safe. But at some point you must cut the apron strings or you disable your child.

  • Anonymous Posted 6 May 2014 17:09

    I can relate so much to this with my daughter! I have to use the gentlest of discipline, because she already feels enough pressure from herself.

  • Rosemary Posted 23 May 2014 7:35

    Some children benefit from have contact with a school counsellor or some schools have what the call mentors. Parents need to communicate to find out how counsellors etc. handle the situations
    There has to be consistency with discipline too. It is frustrating and confusing for a child not to be allowed to do or have something one day and not another. Children go through stages of trying the boundaries. Grandparents and others who mind you child or who you visit regularly have to be made aware of rules, respect your decisions and support you. Sometimes a child with issues will talk to Grandparents, other relatives or another adult they are comfortable with but not their own parents. As parents you have to be prepared to accept feedback, be prepared to act on it properly – not take it out on the child.

  • Amanda Testa Posted 18 June 2014 14:16

    I know this is an older article but you just described my son to a T when describing yours. He has always been a very sensitive and emotional child. Even when watching Disney Jr. If someone takes something from someone he breaks down at the fact someone just stole from Mickey Mouse. I have to explain to him its ok and he will get it back. These books sound like they would be very helpful. He is currently in OT for his SPD, but his OT brought up looking into seeing if there was anything to do to help him with his emotional side. Not so much as suppress it but how can we help him understand things, and help us understand how he is feeling and how he processes emotions.

  • Frantic Mama Posted 30 June 2014 9:56

    I just stumbled across your post while searching for more information on HSC. My son fits so many of the key traits, and right now (he's 4) there are many blessings as well as challenges with his behavior. Thanks for sharing.

  • kiah parrish Posted 3 September 2014 14:48

    I came across this post because I've been googling all morning looking for any information I can about super sensitive children. My son is extremely sensitive and until yesterday I hasn't actually put two and two together, I have noticed little things here and there that set him apart from other children. The fact the he can do 200 piece jigsaw puzzles,he likes adult games that involve a or of thinking and problem solving and he'd rather do these things than be in a huge group of kids or playing I a bounce house. My son is 3 and he refuses to eat certain foods,in the mornings he wears a blanket on hi head because the living room is too bright for him and the site of blood is enough to send him hiding under a table for hours. These are just a few examples. I have learned how to handle them and how to speak to him so that he stays calm and understands that he is going to be okay, and how he feels is also okay. Unfortunately other people in my home (my parents) have not learned this yet. So it often makes situations a little tougher when they are home.
    Thy also discredit a lot of my thoughts regarding my son being sensitive or that certain situations need I be handled with care or in a certain manner. They are wry old fashioned and think I am being over the top with thinking he is sensitive.
    I know he is. This post brought a smile to my face and I will be sharing this with my family so that we can all be on the same page when it comes to handling my son and his sensitivity. Thank you so much for writing this!

  • foxy vegan Posted 14 October 2014 7:32

    Great article, really opened my eyes. Could I have permission to translate in Greek and repost it for the mamas in my country?

  • Jennie Williams Posted 13 November 2014 14:53

    Our son is sensitive, as am I, and is in Yr 2 infants at school. He loves school but it tires him out so much that he goes down with very regular bouts of asthma. It is heart breaking. We have the skills to home school him but he is a very sociable boy and his friends are everything to him. Ideally he needs to have a 3 1/2 day week!

  • Kim RaisingBabesNaturally Posted 13 January 2015 9:52

    Great post…although it's been, and is, challenging, i'm forever indebted to my Highly Sensitive son for showing me the journey to self-transformation in order to be the best parent I can be for him. It's an honor that these children have chosen us to raise them!

  • Chris Bin Posted 12 March 2015 8:00

    I have discovered I am a highly sensitive person thanks to my two highly sensitive children. This is an amazing journey! Most surprising is how common and unrecognized this trait it and also, how unequipped public schools often are to deal with sensitive children. We were fortunate to discover Montessori which has helped tremendously. Home schooling is often presented as a good alternative however my experience suggestions this can limit the developing child's ability to make necessary healthy strong peer relationships something that is critical for sensitive children.

  • Stacey Nicole Posted 20 April 2015 9:19

    I came upon this post while searching for ways to help my highly sensitive son (almost seven) who also has Sensory Processing Disorder and speech issues (was speech delayed and has articulation issues). He is hyper-sensitive to sound and smell (the latter is a curse that I too have). He doesn't like change, singing Happy Birthday bring him to tears (as we learned at his last birthday party), cheering him on makes him shut down (as we learned at Olympic Day at school last year), and he loathes people watching him do anything.

    He's been teased before about his speech, but now he's being teased for other things. He told me earlier this week that a girl in P.E. (his favorite class, next to science lab) called him a scaredy-cat for not wanting to try out a scooter. He sat out P.E. and cried for me. It sucks because (1) teasing is mean and (2) he's so socially awkward anyway (he is socially anxious but doesn't officially have social anxiety) that, combined with his sensitivity, it's really hard on him. He also has random thoughts come to his head (from dying to people stealing puppies from our yard, which has never happened) and cries over them. It's always hard to console him when this happens. He also is literal so we have to be careful what we say (I once said "we should open our hearts and …" but got no further before our son went into hysterics, thinking we were going to rip open our chests and pull our hearts out). I wish I knew how to help.

    As an aside, yes, he has many of the positives: he is caring, compassionate (except towards his brother sometimes), intelligent (maybe not according to tests, but yes he is very bright), and creative (his Lego creations are so intricate that they amaze his daddy and me). He is a great kid, although very trying at times. Then again, aren't most kids? 🙂

  • Ananth Sridharan Posted 20 September 2015 10:11

    I have a sensitive 8 year old son. Like every other parent here, I was also looking at various schooling options…and I found one last year. He has been going to this school for over a year now, and after he joined this school, he actually started to enjoy going to school and still does. The school follows a IB PYP curriculum, and in my opinion, a school that offers this curriculum is well worth considering. I have come to realize that the significant difference is the emphasis on the transdisciplinary themes (there's a wiki about IBPYP that explains this and more). Where I live, such a curriculum is available only in a private school, but I have seen countries that have started to introduce this curriculum in public schools as well.
    This is a great post, and the comments echo my sentiments. My son has had such a positive influence on me that I go about saying, proudly, that I am like my son.

  • Tiffanee Jacob Posted 18 October 2015 12:02

    As I read this, I'm experiencing some type of anxiety myself. Wondering specifically how I'm going to reverse some of the ways I deal with this trait in my 3 year old son. I just don't know. I believe both my hubby and I exhibited this as children, and maybe being forced to just "get over it", never really realized the full potential of this gift. I suppose it has to be a gift… I just pray that I don't suppress this and make it difficult for him. He's been crying at least four times a day, really emotional crying. I just am lost when this happens and seemingly over nothing. I simply don't understand… I'm finding some comfort and solace in your article. I feel a bit more equipped, but also so much pressure. It seems that I am the only one able to set the standard for his interactions/discipline. What if I'm not there? There's so much out there, I am unable to keep him from it all?…Please pray for strength for me.

  • Unknown Posted 27 June 2016 14:59

    This is a great post. I am a highly sensitive woman who was raised by a shouter (thought I knew I was loved). Some things that were said still reside with me now and I suffer greatly from unnecessary guilt. It stops me doing what's right for me as I'm always doing what's right for everyone else. I'm now raising a highly sensitive son who I'd now 6. We have definitely calmed our discipline methods as time out is very upsetting for him and jot needed. He is always trying to be good and to behave well and he gets upset if he feels Ge has fails. I feel like I'm now good at managing his emotions and making sure he feels lived and secure. What I struggle with (Because I didn't suffer from this myself) is his fear or trying new things. He won't put his face in water (even when swimming hence hr can't swim), he won't go on roundabouts though he will happily push other children on them, won't go on swings etc. I struggled alot with the balance of encouraging v.s. making him do things he wasn't ready for. As he's got older and naturally tried these things gradually and in his own time I realised I never should have forced him. He does things when he us ready – if that's years after his peers who cares. But I do worry about his niceness and him being taken advantage of. He has just got into trading cards and after 2days has given all his good cards away in return for the rubbish no one else wants. This I don't know how to deal with…

  • Jennifer Posted 5 July 2016 9:31

    Thank you for posting this. I have a highly sensitive daughter – and just as you described – will point out things that have changed in a grandparent's house, remembers things from before she was 2 years old, a slight scrape is dealt with as if she broke her leg, and she refuses to ride her bike, too. I am glad that there are other parents who have experienced the same things, and to see that there are ways to help us and our children deal with it. My daughter just began kindergarten and I have some serious concerns, but I am willing to try it, but also prepared that I may have to pull her out and homeschool her if necessary. I am going to read these books, too.
    Jennifer Dominquez

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