Most people who see my four-year old charging around would not for one minute think he is sensitive. He doesn’t sit quietly engaged in a task, or play away from other children. You will normally see him tooled up with a stick or a light sabre! But don’t think for one second that my big boisterous boy is all that he appears.
He is a very sensitive soul. Pie will take everything to heart. Things you said weeks ago can resurface and need to be talked through. Almost as if he has been going over them, replaying the moment. If he thinks he has done something to upset you he wants to make amends. He wants everyone to be his friend! But he also struggles to keep all those feelings in check. Leading to huge outbursts over things most kids wouldn’t bat an eyelid at.
Pie always wants to try to make you happy. He checks several times a day if I am happy. He definitely has my anxious nature. A trait wish I wish I had not passed on. But at least I know what I am dealing with. Saying that though sometimes he completely throws me. My happy, bouncy boy can be raging in a matter of seconds with no apparent cause. At one stage I questioned if there was something else going on. I have questioned my own parenting many many times. Finally I think I have him sussed. Not all the time obviously! I mean he is four, being irrational is his prerogative.
The stereotyping for boys to be tough and macho is embedded so early. Even without meaning to we can all fall into the trap. I have done it myself, I find myself saying things like be a big brave boy. Or worse still don’t be such a girl when he runs off from a spider! I know I shouldn’t say it. Why shouldn’t he be scared of spiders? His Dad is! What I say in jest he takes so to heart. I forget sometimes that he is only 4, that he can’t understand my teasing.
I don’t want to wrap him in cotton wool. Equally so I am trying to teach him that it’s ok to have feelings and emotions. It’s ok to be scared or anxious about things. That as his Mummy I will look after him. Realising how sensitive he is has made me look closely at how I parent him.
Now I think more about how I phrase my requests. I make sure he isn’t rushed out of the house, but has time to prepare himself. I try not to give him the plan for the whole day – or he incessantly worries that we won’t get it all done. Mostly I respect what he says. If he says I don’t want to go out and what we had planned isn’t important then I don’t force him. If we are going somewhere new I don’t build up his expectations. I let him discover things at his own pace.
The most important thing I have learnt is that he needs more reassurance. He needs those extra cuddles. He wants to say I love you and hear you say it back. The recognition that he is important and that his view matters. What he doesn’t need is endless stimulation and presents. He needs my time, my patience and my understanding.