Tag Archives: positive parenting

Sensitive Moms Raising Sensitive Sons (How Both Can Thrive), guest post by Rebecca Eanes

I’m a highly sensitive person living in loud, chaotic world. I often find strong smells, loud noise, and chaos. Sirens and violent movies rattle me. I feel things deeply, experiencing great pain, great joy, and everything in between. I become easily overwhelmed by too much sensory input or by having too much to do. I seem to absorb the emotions of those around me. I am easily able to “read” people. It’s sort of like having my very own “spidey sense,” but not nearly as cool. Although I cannot physically climb walls, my high sensitivity has certainly caused me to climb my fair share of figurative ones.

My sensitive trait has affected my motherhood, both wonderfully and unpleasantly. Being intuitive, conscientious, and empathetic are assets when raising children. I am able to easily put myself in my kids’ shoes and see things from their perspective. I often know how they’re feeling before they verbalize it, and it’s a blessing to be able to relate to the boy I’m raising who shares my same trait. I’m able to understand him in ways no one else can, even if sometimes our high emotions collide.

But there are challenges. Motherhood is a roller-coaster ride for the senses. Children are, by their wonderful natures, loud. They’re exuberant, spirited, energetic, and did I mention loud? Many times, I’ve been overstimulated by the barrage of sensory information to the point of being completely frazzled and utterly touched out. My emotions ride the coaster as well. My heart bursts with love and pride, and I feel the joys of motherhood intensely. There is also deep sadness, worry, and fear. If I don’t manage my emotions well, I experience guilt and irritability. I need to escape and find peace and quiet regularly, and we all know this can be challenging in early motherhood. 

My firstborn son is also in the 15 to 20 percent of the population that carries this trait of high sensitivity. Raising a sensitive boy brings its own unique challenges and blessings. Sensitive children are born with highly aware nervous systems. They experience emotions deeply. Love, pain, joy, and sadness are all amplified. They may startle easily and dislike scratchy clothing or seams in socks. They are often sensitive to odors and nose and notice changes in their environment. They also are in tune with the suffering of others and have rich inner lives. They ask deep, thoughtful questions. These children may also prefer quiet play and be bothered by sudden change.

Unfortunately, we still live in a culture that shames sensitive boys. In his book, The Strong Sensitive Boy, Ted Zeff says, “When sensitive boys do not conform to the stereotypical ‘boy code’ and instead express compassion, gentleness, and vulnerability, they are frequently ostracized and humiliated.”

You might think we’ve moved beyond this nonsense, but I still hear crying boys being told that, “Boys don’t cry like that” and to, “Straighten up.” I see how my sensitive boy differs from his classmates, and trust me, he sees it too. Our culture still expects boys to be tough and emotionally repressed. Because of this, being highly sensitive is particularly challenging for boys.

Sensitive people such as my son and myself can thrive given the right environment. Our sensitivity, though challenging, is a strength that we have embraced. I believe sensitive people are an asset to society. We make the world softer, kinder, and brighter. There are just some adjustments that we have to make for our own well-being. 

Tips for Sensitive Mothers

1. Create a sanctuary. I turned my bedroom into a clam and delightful area with ambient lighting and a soft comforter, and I filled it with books. If you can’t transform a whole room, take over a small area. Fill it with things that are pleasing to your senses, such as a soft pillow or a lightly fragranced candle. Listen to something calming or inspiring.

2. Know what reenergizes you and refocuses you. Just as important as identifying what triggers you to feel overwhelmed is identifying your strengtheners. What centers you? Listening to a chapter of an audiobook, taking a walk outside, or playing music while I take a hot shower all help me get re-centered. It’s essential that you build in a little time each day to do what fills you up.

3. Learn to honor your sensitive self and live a slower, more intentional life. It’s okay to say no to that invitation if you know it’s going to drain you. You don’t have to have your kids signed up for every sport and extracurricular that comes around. You are not obligated to help run everything you’re involved in. When we are stretched too thin, it takes a toll on our already sensitive nervous systems, and when there are no blank spaces in the calendar, there is no room for cozying around and recharging.

Tips for Raising Sensitive Boys

1. Teach him how to handle his strong, deep emotions. It’s really important to not make him feel like he’s weird or wrong for having such deep emotions. Use time-in rather than time-out as sensitive boys really shouldn’t be left alone to deal with such big emotions. Teach him tools for self-regulation such as deep breathing or drawing their feelings. Use games and activities to teach about emotions.

2. Maintain a secure attachment. A positive bond between mother and son is important for all boys, but it is especially essential for the sensitive boy. There is a societal fear of raising “mama’s boys” and of coddling, which lead us to prematurely separate from our boys. Mom needs to remain emotionally connected to her sensitive son. Do this by spending quality time playing with him. Be his light reflector. Celebrate his wonderful traits. See the good in him and help him see it too. Avoid harsh discipline and criticizing words. Discipline that connects works best. 

3. Create a positive home environment. Home must be a sensitive child’s safe haven. They quickly pick up on tensions between parents and can be deeply hurt by siblings who tease. The best thing you can do for your sensitive son is to create a home atmosphere that is warm, soothing, and accepting. 

For more strategies and inspiration like this, check out Rebecca’s new book, The Gift of a Happy Mother: Letting Go of Perfection and Embracing Everyday Joy.


5 Minutes of Special Time Makes a Difference!

I’ve known for an embarrassingly long period of time that our days would be sooo much better if I could find a way to have special time with my oldest son first thing in the morning. It’s been a challenge because my husband leaves early and I’m on my own with three boys, rushing to get them all ready for their days. Oh yeah, and I have  to get myself ready as well!  In addition, my boys don’t generally wake up on their own either so I always have to get them up. READ MORE>

Glass Castle or Guarded Fortress?

I’m finally reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. (I know. It’s old. But I had little kids for a lot of years, and didn’t get to read much.) It’s riveting. I can’t put it down. It has everything that makes a good read: a glimpse into another’s world, suspense, humor, horror, love, and good writing. I can’t wait to crawl into bed each night to read it, and I’m repeatedly looking at the clock and muttering to myself, “Just one more chapter.” I read books about people because I love the sensation of being removed from my current life and venturing into someone else’s. I parent my own boys, and then coach others in parenting theirs. Enough! How much parenting can one woman do? So I leave the dusty bottles in the liquor cabinet, and I turn to books. READ MORE>

So, You Can’t Tape Your Child’s Mouth Shut

We moved recently, relocating from one of the most forward thinking places on the planet to a small town. No more highways. Very little crime. Good people. But this is no city!

Not long after we arrived, one of my boys called another “Homo!” And no, it wasn’t a “Dude, you’re so innovative — like homo-erectus. You, know, ‘homo’.” No. It was an angry put down at the expense of gay people.


Happy Father’s Day – wherever you are…

Dear Dad,

It’s coming up on your birthday. And you’re not here to celebrate. First time in my life. Even in the years (most of them) when we were apart, I knew you were out there – somewhere on the globe, feet firmly planted on the ground. I had a dad. READ MORE>

40 Ways to Connect – Guest Post by Becky Eanes of Positive Parenting

40+ Ways to Connect with Your Child Today

Guest Post By Rebecca Eanes

Building and maintaining a strong connection with our children takes focus and work, but the benefits are worth the effort. When children are securely connected with us, they have higher self-esteem, behave better, are more cooperative, and are happier overall. I know we live in a busy world and sometimes it’s difficult to carve out an hour for playtime when dinner needs to be made, dishes are piled high, the inbox is full of messages that need responses, work calls are coming in, and the laundry is everywhere! Connecting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There are many small things we can do throughout the day and night to strengthen the bonds we have with our children.

  1. Give a cheerful morning greeting. Rather than start with a “Hey, hurry up!” try a special morning greeting for each child, like “rise and shine my sunshine” or “good morning doodle bear, I’m happy to see you this morning!” This slight change in greeting can shift the tone for the whole morning.
  2. Make it a point to show affection before breakfast. A hug, a rub on the head, a kiss on the cheek – take just a couple of seconds to be affectionate with your child because little moments add up to lots of love.
  3. Do something a little special at breakfast, like a note beside their cereal bowl or fruit shaped in a smiley face on top of their oatmeal.
  4. Notice something good about them before breakfast and say it out loud. “Your outfit looks nice today” or “Thanks for making your bed this morning. That was helpful.”
  5. Make up a secret handshake or hand symbol that’s just for the two of you.
  6. Say a blessing over them before they head out the door.
  7. Never let them leave without a hug.
  8. Put a note in their lunchbox that says “I’m so glad you’re mine!”
  9. If your child has a cell phone, send a text to say “I’m thinking of you and smiling!”
  10. Do one of their chores for them.
  11. Bring them a snack or drink without them asking.
  12. Make a comment on what they’re working on when you pass by. “Oh, are you about to beat that level?” or “How’s the homework coming? You’re being so diligent!”
  13. Always greet them with a smile, not a question first. “Hi sweetie, I’m happy you’re home!”
  14. Make their bed for them and leave a note on it. “Made lovingly by mom.”
  15. Block out 10 minutes of time and say “I’m stopping what I’m doing and giving you 10 minutes of my full attention because I love you! What do you want to do for 10 minutes?”
  16. Blow up balloons and cover their floor with it “just because.”
  17. Offer to rub their back, feet, or shoulders for a few minutes.
  18. Choose a topic of conversation at dinner, such as new movies, vacation plans, or best books to avoid awkward silence and shrugs after “how was your day?”
  19. Turn some music up loud and dance in the kitchen for 10 minutes while the food is cooking.
  20. Begin an afternoon or after-school tea time. Get darling little teacups with saucers and sit down together for a few moments of civilized engagement. Don’t like tea? Put water in the teacup. They’ll probably still think it’s fun!
  21. It’s affirmation time again! Notice something good about your child and speak it out before dinner is over.
  22. Do a chore alongside your child. Remember how the dwarves did the dishes in The Hobbit? They were singing and laughing and just having a good time doing it. Try that, but don’t toss the dishes around like they did unless you’re very, very good!
  23. Do a quick, fun science experiment together. Mentos and Coca Cola or vinegar with baking soda are cheap, easy, and fun.
  24. Re-work the homework hour with soft classical music and fresh cookies from the oven. They’ll appreciate the effort and change in atmosphere.
  25. Read a chapter aloud from a classic novel.
  26. Invite them into your world to learn something new about you. Tell them about a book you’re reading or invite them to do yoga with you.
  27. Take a walk together after dinner.
  28. Play a round of Uno or a card game of your choice. One round doesn’t usually take too long, but it gives everyone time to gather and unwind.
  29. Leave love notes everywhere. Bathroom mirror, bedroom dresser, pillow top, under their shoes.
  30. If you have little kids, play on the floor with them for 10-15 minutes uninterrupted. If your kids are older, build a Lego creation or join them in their interest for few minutes.
  31. Ask questions that are more specific than “how was your day?” Try “What’s one thing you learned today?” or “Tell me something nice that happened to you today.”
  32. Grab a flashlight and go under covers together to tell stories.
  33. Make bath time with little ones a special time by adding bath crayons, lots of bubbles, or new bath toys, and play with them for a short while instead of hurrying through the routine.
  34. Spend 5 minutes daring each other not to laugh as you each make silly faces, tell jokes, and make silly noises.
  35. Say yes to an invitation to play that you’d usually turn down.
  36. Play the favorites game by asking “What’s your favorite ___” back and forth quickly until you run out of ideas. You’ll probably learn something new about each other.
  37. Tell them stories from your childhood.
  38. Talk to them about their family heritage. If you don’t know much about your ancestry, explore it together.
  39. Hold them in your lap and rock them like their still babies, even if their limbs are sprawled out all over the place!
  40. Arm wrestle each other.
  41. Give a piggy back ride to bed or a horsey back ride to the tub.
  42. Spend “special time” with each child at bedtime. Sit on the end of their bed or lie down beside them and just listen to what they have to say. If they say nothing, just hold them.
  43. Tuck them in with a special prayer or blessing every night.
  44. Always kiss them goodnight.

Rebecca Eanes is the creator of www.positive-parents.org and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting. In her new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, Rebecca shares her hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with her children. Because parenting is about so much more than discipline, Rebecca hits on important topics less spoken about, making this more than a parenting book. It’s a book about building lasting family bonds and reclaiming joy in parenting. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide releases on June 7th. Pre-order now and receive access to an exclusive online book club. Click here to learn more about the book and the pre-order offer.

Do you worry you’re not a good enough parent?

Sometimes this parenting thing gets tiresome. It feels like I’m giving giving giving, but not gettin’ any – if you know what I mean. READ MORE>

The Car Ride From Hell That Didn’t Really Bother Me

It’s been a long, hot summer here in our new home. We have gone from North America to Middle East, freezing ocean to warm sea, English to Hebrew (but I’ll keep my posts in the former), urban to rural, family dog to no dog, burritos to falafel, no cousins to tons of cousins, driving lanes as guides, to driving lanes as mere suggestions for placement of your vehicle (which most choose to ignore), many friends to many future friends…

Oh, and there was the month of chicken pox, baseball dreams that didn’t come true (more on that another time), broken down cars and a new dryer that didn’t work (not that we need it in this heat)… I could go on.

The point is, though, that while I’m ready to scream at the top of my lungs, “Yahoo! School starts tomorrow! We made it!” The reality is that each of the five of us is a well of emotions pounding the shore much more like the waves of the Pacific Ocean than the Mediterranean Sea. READ MORE>

What We Want For Our Children

How not to confuse your own unfulfilled desires with theirs. READ MORE>

Finding the Sweet Spot

It’s that place where we can help our children dream big — and give them the tools to make those dreams come true. READ MORE>