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Question
Posted by: Chris | 2009-11-22

Over-sensitive son

My son is nearly 6 years old but is and has been always over-sensitive. He is generally very shy, hesitant to play in any group sports, and gets hurt &  cries easily. He is very connected to me and especially to his mother. Due to me having to work overseas frequently, he is often months at a time only with his mother. At his kindergarten there are mostly female teachers and his babysitter is also female. Changing this is not possible. He also told a male friend of his (also nearly 6) at the kindergarten that " he loves him" .

Naturally we as parents are concerned about his over-sensitiveness and that he might become gay. We would like some advice how to develop him more into a tougher boy that can stand up for himself and be more masculine. Advice to me as the father especially, how to behave towards my son and how to handle him, would be appreciated.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Actually, Chris, as I recall the research, "sensitive" kids are not more likely to become gay in orientation. A father has to be cautious not to be too roughly butch in trying to give him opportunities to become more masculine. But it does sound as though he has an almost male-free environment, so all his real role models are female. Is it really not possibly to find some male baby-sitters - or female baby-sitters with boy-friends ? At 6, isn't he due to move to real school from kindergarten ? One of your major criteria for selecting his next school, should surely be a preponderance of male teachers, rather than a majority of women. They're often great as teachers, but boys and girls need a mix as potential role-models. What about male relatives - aren't there some who can spend some time visiting your home, and with the lad ?
He's old enough for you to chat with him, man-to-boy, and to talk about how YOU handle issues of sensitivity - being scared, being tough, being brave. And explore how he feels about such issues, and how he wants to me. Its not intended to put him down or to make him feel wrong in the choices he has made so far, but to remind him that with mainly female role models, it has been more difficult for him to study how men handle such events. You can together look ahead at moving to more senior levels of school, what he thinks it will be like, and issues of assertiveness versus aggression, and how to stand up for oneself.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Bee | 2009-11-23

chris, my son is 7 and is exactly the same. I just leave him to do what he wants. His father doesnt do activiites with him, so he plays with his sisters, talks to me but still loves doing boy-things although he gets drawn in by his sisters to do participate in their things. Sometimes he gets fed up and says " i dont want to play with your dolls and have tea"  and walks off to play lego' s or planes or whatever. Leave your son be, he will find his own way. Let him ride a bike, go with him, chat to him ask him about his day, who his friends are, who his best friend is, what he did for the week, etc. This makes them comfortable and more outspoken.

Reply to Bee
Posted by: Chris | 2009-11-23

Great advice, thanks so much!

Reply to Chris
Posted by: cybershrink | 2009-11-22

Actually, Chris, as I recall the research, "sensitive" kids are not more likely to become gay in orientation. A father has to be cautious not to be too roughly butch in trying to give him opportunities to become more masculine. But it does sound as though he has an almost male-free environment, so all his real role models are female. Is it really not possibly to find some male baby-sitters - or female baby-sitters with boy-friends ? At 6, isn't he due to move to real school from kindergarten ? One of your major criteria for selecting his next school, should surely be a preponderance of male teachers, rather than a majority of women. They're often great as teachers, but boys and girls need a mix as potential role-models. What about male relatives - aren't there some who can spend some time visiting your home, and with the lad ?
He's old enough for you to chat with him, man-to-boy, and to talk about how YOU handle issues of sensitivity - being scared, being tough, being brave. And explore how he feels about such issues, and how he wants to me. Its not intended to put him down or to make him feel wrong in the choices he has made so far, but to remind him that with mainly female role models, it has been more difficult for him to study how men handle such events. You can together look ahead at moving to more senior levels of school, what he thinks it will be like, and issues of assertiveness versus aggression, and how to stand up for oneself.

Reply to cybershrink

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