Boys Cry, Too

The urge to protect a child, to hold them close and fend off any and all potential threats, is one of the most primal urges in parenting. It’s part of what makes us parents. We brought them into this world, one way or another, and we aim to keep them safe and loved.

I’ve felt that urge since the moment I held each of my children in my arms. Overwhelmed with emotion, exhausted, and tears streaming down my cheeks, I promised each of them that I would never let the world become too big for them. I would be with them every step of the way.

And although I thought that my daughter would inherently be the more sensitive one, she is like me in so very many ways, my son turned out to be just as sensitive, and then some.

Know your child

Quiet and introverted by nature, he’s not the rough and tumble jump into the center of the party kind of kid. At four, he is curious and talkative, but only when he’s in his comfort zone.

He believes that rules are meant to be followed but, like any other kid his age, he tests the limits at times. And he knows when he’s pushed it just a little too far. Tears well up in his enormous blue eyes before I can even utter a sound. Hugs and reminders are all he needs to make a better choice.

Don’t push

My sensitive boy takes the slow lane more often than not. When he’s ready, he’s ready. But rushing him along leads to tears, meltdowns, and sleep terrors in the dark of night.

And so we take it slow. We waited on preschool, making sure that he was ready to separate and learn. We didn’t push the toddler or preschool classes, letting him choose his own interests.

Let there be tears

If I’m being honest, I always thought it was it a myth that parents actually utter the phrase, “Boys don’t cry.” Until I heard it at the park. And in the grocery store. And during a preschool drop off one morning.

Boys cry, too.

Sometimes it’s hard to be little. Sometimes it frustrating when things don’t go your way. Some days are tiring and some days are long. And sometimes you just have to shed a few tears.

All feelings are welcome in this little family of ours. Even huge, gushing tears in the face of a tower that just keeps falling. Because sometimes a good cry is just what the doctor ordered.

How do you help your sensitive child cope with big feelings?

Published on: September 23, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Katie Hurley
Katie Hurley, LCSW, is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting expert, and writer. She is founder of “Girls Can!” empowerment groups for girls between the ages of 5 and 11 and the author of The Happy Kid Handbook and No More Mean Girls.
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Those phases can be so very hard! I’m sure you’ve tried transitional objects and all of those lovey kinds of things already…sometimes it just takes time to get through those big feelings. And yes, it’s very exhausting!

Thank you so much for posting this! My son is 3 1/2 and despite his past Mr. Independent phases, has always been very sensitive…he’s going through a clingy, tantrum-filled, don’t-want-mom-to-leave-the-room-before-he-falls-asleep / don’t-leave-me-at-the-daycare-I’ve-been-at-for-3 years-and-love phase. Some days (read: this weekend) it’s exhausting for both of us, but I know he’s just trying to feel his way through new experiences and the inevitable emotions that come with them. I’m grateful that he’s a sweet, empathetic little boy, and I always tell him when it’s time to go home from grandma’s or his favorite ice cream place, that it’s OK to be sad, but there will be lots of other times…I’m glad he’s not afraid to cry and still looks to me for comfort :) Great article Doc! Keep up the great work!