I think it can make people really uncomfortable when kids cry. They fall, hurt themselves and the first thing we yell is “you’re okay!” We don’t know if they are okay or not but they are crying in public, sometimes loudly, and should they be? Does that mean they are weak?
I have to admit, when I first had my boys I expected them to be tough, play sports constantly, and thought they would barely cry– because men don’t cry right? I can’t think of one time I saw my Dad or my brother cry growing up.
I had a preconceived notion that I had to raise them to be tough. Which included telling them not to cry and to “toughen up.”
I even thought I lucked out having boys because I was going to skip the emotional part of parenting. Ha!
Enter my first born…
He came in larger than life demanding to be heard. He was both very strong, could climb high, zipline at age three, fall from great heights and walk off like it was nothing, AND crying all the time.
What I EVENTUALLY discovered is that he is sensitive to energy. He has empathic abilities like I do (and like I suspect many of us do).
That means he feels the energy of others, the sadness, joy, pain, anger and it can overwhelm him. Hell, it overwhelmed me for much of my life before I figured it out and still catches me off guard occasionally.
It really took many years for me to figure out that he is sensitive to the energy around him. If I am angry, he can feel it. In crowded places he would start to do strange behaviors, like walk in a square or blurt strange noises. Discovering he was sensitive to dyes really helped us not exacerbate the issue, and my own personal spiritual growth allowed me to be open to supporting him rather than trying to quiet him.
Over time I have found that these 10 Ways to Support Your Sensitive Child Today! have really helped my household immensely. It used to be that if he was having a bad day, the whole house felt it. He committed from morning until night and it put us more as adversaries than allowing me to be the open-minded parent I was striving to me. Using these tools, I’ve found that in supporting him, he can experience the emotions he needs to and let them pass through. And you know what eventually happens? He will finally tell me there has been some sort of issue (worry about a test) or situation causing him distress. We will talk about it. We will discuss ways to handle it. I will remind him that he can just come to me in the first place rather than fall apart for a week. But I do remind him that even grown ups need to fall apart a little to grow.
Because we do…
Read Related: Things Fall Apart
I do not consider it weak that he is really feeling what is happening or that he lets his emotions out (The Untethered Soul is a great book about importance of experiencing everything!). I think both my boys are very strong and sometimes too fearless children (someday I’ll tell you about the time we took them skiing and even my husband said it was terrifying!). And I know from experience that if you stuff the emotions down they come back. They stay there, leave an imprint in your energy and will resurface later for healing.
Read Related: Haunted. (Healing that darn child!)
I’m not saying I want him to go to school and cry all day and get picked on. I’m saying when he has the more emotional days I support him completely. I listen, I hold him, I talk about it with him and eventually he goes on his way calm and happy.
In doing this, I’ve noticed in general he’s become a much more calm and evenly-tempered child. He has become more independent and more open to change. And in the moments when I really need my boys to be strong, they dig in and help out –Yay!
Before it was almost like he was screaming out to be heard and I was ignoring him. Not even knowing that I was ignoring his needs but mostly because I wasn’t brought up to discuss feelings or mine were dismissed as being too sensitive or being too “needy.” Which is probably true because when your needs aren’t being met you do become more needy. When you aren’t being heard you do get louder. When you feel you need more love you cling more tightly. All those things happen.
For me to be a supportive parent, I had to release all ideas I had of what raising a boy should look like. I don’t really know. My second son who has been much more even and calm from the jump (or was I much more calm as a parent?), also will come in the house and burst into tears because someone said or did something. I handle it the same way. We go straight to the couch so I can hold him. And listen. Maybe do a little Reiki…
Then I give him a little snack because chances are he was hungry when it happened.
Then off he goes to play handball or to engage in a lightsaber-noodle battle.
They are just learning to understand that they are sensitive and I discuss energy with them and their own power in the situation so that they can decipher when energy belongs to them and when it does not.
They can start to understand when their reactions seem over the top, or makes sense.
As for the worry I used to have about raising sensitive boys in a world that seems too “tough,” I’ve found my sons seem to be attracting other gentle friends. I get the compliment “Your boys are so sweet” on the regular and I in turn find the parents saying it have similar sensitive children. I’ve also seen boy after boy come crying off the soccer field which has caused me to question my original assumption that boys don’t cry in the first place.
So I’ve quit worrying for now. High school may be another story…
How about you? Do you have a sensitive child? Has it pushed you to change the way you parent too? I would love to hear about it in the comments.