Encourage child to talk about his feelings


Q. My 4-year-old son is very bright. He has been reading for about a year already and can read Dr. Seuss-type books unassisted. But he's so, so sensitive! The movies "Peter Pan" and "The Wizard of Oz" made him cry so hard. If he feels someone is in danger, he gets upset.

Is this part of being smart and seeing more depth to the movies, or is he just a very sensitive little boy?

A.It's probably a sign of both - seeing below the surface and being very sensitive to his own issues about aggression. You'd like to help him develop better defenses against being upset by aggression, but it is normal at this age. Most 4-year-olds are upset by their own aggressive feelings and hence are very sensitive to others' aggression.

Help your son to understand why he's so upset in each case. When he can talk about how he feels, he may not be so vulnerable.

Also, allow him to be more aggressive in ways that are not harmful to others. He may need to learn how to respond in a safe way to things that stir him up - fire engines, dogs barking, bad dreams, etc.

Questions or comments should be addressed to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168.

Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Dr. Brazelton regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Pub Date: 6/28/98

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