Five Strategies to Prevent Your Sensitive Son from Being Bullied
Did you know that twenty percent of the population has a sensitive nervous system and the trait is equally divided between males and females? 20% of all males are sensitive, or one out of every five boys has a finely tuned nervous system. A highly sensitive boy (HSB) can be easily overwhelmed by noise, crowds, new situations and shy away from aggressive interactions. He generally reacts more deeply and exhibits more emotional sensitivity than the non-sensitive boy.
Bullies tend to target kids who seem different from others. Since the eighty percent of non-HSBs are hardwired neurologically to behave in a different manner than the twenty percent of HSBs, many sensitive boys do not fit in with the vast majority of boys and risk being bullied. Bullies also target kids who don't fight back and who react deeply to teasing. Research shows that 85% of sensitive boys react more strongly to bullying that non-sensitive boys.
How can we prevent our sensitive boys from being bullied? Here are five strategies for bully-proofing your sensitive son:
Develop Confidence in your Son by Support from Mom, Dad and Other Adults
The unconditional love and support from parents and other adults will give your son the confidence he needs to face difficult situations. Studies have shown that boys who have positive, loving relationships with one or more adults outside of the home (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) report more positive experiences as a child than those who do not have these additional relationships. So invite your extended family and friends to share their love with your son.
Some people believe that boys need stronger discipline than girls. However, your sensitive son can learn a lesson better when he is calm and receptive, so when you are disciplining your son, it's vital to talk to him in a gentle manner. When you set limits in a calm, yet firm manner his self-esteem will remain intact.
Mothers generally spend more time with their children, so they are frequently in a position to bolster their son's confidence. However, fathers (or uncles, grandfathers, or other male role models) need to spend special, positive time with their sons. While a father needs to teach his son how to stand up for himself, he also has to understand, protect, and encourage his sensitive son. Both fathers and sons benefit when dad accepts his son's trait of sensitivity instead of trying to mold him into a non-HSB. It's important to model setting limits with others, so that HSB boys can set their own limits with other bullying children.
Make School a Safe Place for your Son
Parents should regularly discuss their son's progress with his teacher, talk to other parents, and volunteer in the classroom. If you find out that a teacher is mistreating your son, you need to immediately let the teacher and principal know that the behavior is unacceptable. If your son's teacher is not receptive to changing his or her behavior, escalate your complaint to the principal and/or district office. If your son's physical safety is in jeopardy due to bullying from students and the school authorities won't intervene, you could contact the police. However, it may be more prudent to remove your son from a potentially physically violent situation if the bullying escalates to that point.
If your son gets bullied in school, it's important to teach him effective methods to handle the situation. According to the Youth Voice Project, the best solution to stopping bullying was accessing the support of adults and peers. Less effective strategies were ignoring the bullying, telling them to stop, and walking away. Learning self-defense can give your son more confidence when confronted by bullying. You could ask the P.T.A. or the principal to arrange for a professional to come to the school to offer an anti-bullying program.
If your son's public school is not responsive, an alternative could be a progressive private school (i.e. Montessori, Waldorf), which may be conducive to your son's emotional and educational needs than a large public school. Homeschooling is also ideal for most sensitive boys since the HSB thrives in a safe, quiet, less-stimulating environment where they are free to pursue both core and creative subjects at their own pace.