Archive for June 2015

Highly Sensitive Boys

raising-gentle-boysBeing sensitive oftentimes starts as a struggle in our not-so sensitive world. It may be doubly so if you’re a boy and you feel things more deeply. Of course, there are certain families and cultures where being a boy is still equated with being tough (not highly feeling). Today’s highly sensitive boy can only truly thrive if he learns how to embrace his gentle nature (emotions) and also develop his strength (physical, mental, spiritual) so he can be fully himself.

One of the things I’ve recognized is that sensitive boys who’re mentored (formal or informally) are better equipped to handle challenges, develop self-confidence and share their unique gifts than their counterparts who only learn by trial and error. Specifically, I believe sensitive boys need a mentor because many times:

  • Men in their lives may not be highly sensitive. They love little Larry or Luke but they may not instantly “get him” so helping him manage his emotions may not be their forte yet they want him to be strong and soft — something they might not have learned fully themselves.
  • Emotions aren’t necessarily discussed among men. Helping a boy learn how to skillfully handle their emotions and discuss them sets him up for more life success. Just today, I was on Skype with Noah who said, “thanks for helping me” after we role-played how to handle a particular situation.
  • They are different. Imagine being a zebra in a herd of horses. Now that’s how a sensitive boy feels in his classroom unless he’s in art, acting or some sort of specialized school for “zebra’s” where most kids are sensitive. Helping a sensitive boy embrace his sensitivity as a good thing helps him in every area of his life.

Over and over again I see how mentoring can be a life-changer for many boys, especially if they are struggling with outbursts, making friends, being teased, feeling confident and handling their intense emotions. Once you find someone that can genuinely help your child manage their intensity and turn their struggles into strengths keep that person on speed dial. They may not have all the answers but the support and guidance can be invaluable!


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Over the last week, I’ve had dozens of calls from harried parents on where to send their HSC next year for school. The concerns range from minor like little Lucy just “doesn’t fit in” to greater where children refuse to return to where they’ve been going. So to help you begin thinking about “the right school” for your highly sensitive child, please consider:

  • Every child is different – There are no “quick fixes” for HSC and school. One child may thrive at Waldorf, while another hates it. The important point is to understand what your child uniquely needs to thrive (i.e. type of structure, flexibility, emphasis on the arts) and help find a school that’s a positive match. One of my clients, Tom, is a top-rated tennis player at age 11 and he’s transferring to a tennis academy so he can play part of the day (i.e. channel his incredible energy, hone skills) and then complete his academic requirements the other part. 
  • School fit is imperative – One mom, Ruth, asked me today: “Do I need a special needs school for my son?” And the truth is your HSC son needs a school that values his sensitivity and gets him. Oftentimes this may be a non-traditional school whether it’s a charter or magnet school, which lowers cost or a private school is up to you. I have one family, The Ings, who transferred their son to paraochial school even though they aren’t Catholic or religious – it was just the best school in their neighborhood for their spiritual son, and he loves it. So thinking “out of the box” pays off big-time.
  • Creativity is key – HSC need schools that allow them to be their unqiue selves and share their voices. The enemy of sensitive children is a rigid curriculum, lots of testing (high-pressure, timed) and no room for individual expression.

Understanding what’s available in your area for schooling and then picking a school for your son or daughter takes effort. My suggestion is to involve your intuitive, likely opininated and highly intelligent HSC so they can “buy-in” to their new educational experience. Of course, show them only the schools that are really possible for them and get assistance as needed from a professional or caring friend that can really guide you in making the smartest choice for your child.