I am concerned about my nine year old boy. Although he can be outspoken (appropriately) and is not particularly shy, he is, for lack of a better term, kind of a crybaby. I could give you a lot of examples, but the one that bothered me the most was last year at school. For each child who brought a can of food to donate to the poor, the school said they would get a free cookie with their lunch. The teacher who was dispensing the cookies told “Troy” that she didn’t see him bring in a can, and refused him a cookie. He was instantly reduced to tears. Although he didn’t drop to the ground screaming and bawling, he nevertheless found himself crying in front of all his friends. As a (hopefully) properly protective parent, I brought the matter up with the teacher and the principal, and she apologized to him. Still, the damage was done. This is not an isolated incident of him being overly sensitive. What is a parent to do? He’s a remarkable kid: smart, athletic and a good brother to his sister. I just don’t want him spending his life being looked down on by other kids.
Dear Ms. Concerned,
I have good news and bad news and good news for you. Good news #1: If you have to pick a character “defect” (out of many) for your son to have, this is perhaps one of the best to have. An extra sensitivity can indeed be a burden to a boy, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. These are the guys who compassionately sit at the lunch table with the lonely nerd, help with a struggling classmate in math, and get the reputation as the nicest kid in school. If there is some degree of embarrassment in his future, it sounds like he will be able to balance out his self esteem with his many attributes. Continue to provide your positive inspirations for him. The bad news is that I don’t know how to teach a compassionate, kind kid how to not be sensitive. This is really more of a personality thing rather than a learned attribute. If there were some way to help him “toughen up” a bit, but he had to reduce a great trait at the same time, would you opt for it? Probably not. Additionally, if you fight his fights for him like you mentioned with the cookie monster teacher, be sure to do so rather secretly. We want our children treated properly, but they don’t always need to know we went to bat for them. Good news #2: Although extra sensitivity can be something of a burden as a kid, it is revered as an adult. People like this make for loving fathers and great husbands. Basically: outstanding human beings. You are most fortunate, as is he.