Is There Such Thing As Being Too Gentle?

Can a child ever be too gentle?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself this week.

Ben is my middle child and youngest boy and has always been a gentle little thing. He has just turned six and just doesn’t seem interested in things his peers are. He’s not interested in sports at all, he doesn’t enjoy “rough and tumble” style play and would rather sit and colour than play with toys.

He’s easily my most affectionate child and wears his heart on his sleeve. He has a lot of friends who are girls because he would prefer to dance and sing than run around with the boys. He isn’t competitive and spent his school sports day smiling and waving at us despite coming last in most of his events.

I’m more than happy for him to defy gender stereotypes. This is not an issue for us at all. I’m definitely not one who believes boys should conform to their mischievous, trouble making reputation. I have one son like that, I’m not sure I could handle two!

What does worry me is others taking advantage of his good nature. My eldest son knows he can coax things out of him – the last ice lolly or a toy they’re supposed to be sharing. Just yesterday he persuaded Ben to give him the conkers he was so proud of collecting and Ben shrugged and said “OK you can have them”.

While I’m proud of his generosity, part of me wills him to say no. Just once.

He came home from school without a keyring we had bought from the Harry Potter tour that he had so proudly attached to his book bag. He had given it to another child at school. When I asked why, he responded with “because he asked me for it”.

It hadn’t even occurred to him to say no and it breaks my heart a little.

You only need to turn on the news for five minutes to realise the world can be a cruel place. It’s “a dog eat dog world” they tell us, and “nice guys finish last”.

I don’t want that for my Ben. I want the best for him and for him to be happy and successful and respected. Can he ever be these things if he is being walked all over?

His teacher told us at parents evening that he has absolutely no malice in him at all and that’s a rare thing. It stuck with me. Obviously my heart burst with pride. What a lovely little boy we have. But then there’s that nagging at the back of mind. Won’t he need that in life? That grit? That edge? That determination to fight for what you believe in?

Now I know he’s still young. He’s only six. But he hasn’t changed since he was a baby. He was a pleasant laid back little boy then too. My worry is how he will be treated as he becomes older if he continues to be so easily manipulated.

I worry about all these things but then I look over at him sat on couch having a cuddle with his toy rabbit and think “please never change”.

Don’t let this world dampen your spirit. Don’t become cynical.

Maybe he can lead the way. He can make his own path in life where cynicism and mistrust have no place. Perhaps our children’s generation can be the one where kindness is not seen as weakness. Where tolerance is something to be respected not ridiculed. Where gentleness and warmth promote a similar reaction in others.

In a world of hard nosed, callous, misogynistic, narcissists perhaps we need more Bens.


  1. Breaks my heart reading this. My son is exactly he same and I mean exactly I feel like you are literally describing him. Theodore is 5 just turned in August youngest of his year and I used to think it was because he was slightly younger and most are nearly a year older than him but 100% it’s his nature. Heart bursts with pride but I worry how the future will be with him x

  2. We definitely need more Bens in the world, he sounds like such a wise old soul. It’s so hard from a Mum’s point of view though isn’t it? My daughter is the same. She is so sweet and generous, and I know other’s take advantage of her kindness. She’s 12 now, and getting to that preenage stage where girls can be pretty nasty to one another, and I just want to say to her “don’t let them boss you around”, “say no for once”…

  3. Ben sounds like such a sweetheart, it almost brings tears to my eyes! It’s amazing that he’s so naturally generous and kindhearted. I know some vey gentle men who have similar tendencies, and I’m so grateful no one tried to toughen them up. They bless the world with their kindness, empathy, and sensitivity.

  4. He sounds like the kindest little soul and I understand all your worries, but he sounds like hope to me, hope for the future, the phrase “kill them with kindness” comes to mind. I myself would be quite like him and I did learn to say no, but it took me sometime. He’ll get to where he needs to be with an amazing parent like you there’s no denying he’s going to be a happy child ❤

  5. My Samuel just turned six and has a super gentle way about him, too. I’m sure he and Ben would be great friends! My older son, Joshua, is thirteen and is an absolute sweetheart but also a rough & tumble man’s man. I have every faith that they are both going to be wonderful men. 🙂

  6. He sounds like a great little boy! Unfortunately the world is not kind with gentle and nice kids. I would suggest to always keep an eye on him and make sure that other children won’t bully him in school.

  7. I am not a mama yet but I honestly believe we need more people like your youngest son, its scary to think this cruel world might rob him of his good nature or take it for granted but I am sure he will adapt as he grows without losing this good nature in him

  8. Really interesting and thought provoking post. Sounds like you have raised an absolutely wonderful little boy – I wish him all the best 🙂

  9. This post is so heartfelt! I can relate to being worried about him being taken advantage because of his gentleness because growing up, I was the one who people would do the same to because I rarely said no. However, you have to know that while he may be gentle, he’s not oblivious and as he grows up and matures, he’ll be able to balance his yes’ and no’s. Just continue to love him and be proud of his great heart, which isn’t as existent today from many people in this world! I’m rotting for your little one and I know that he’ll definitely be OK! 🙂

  10. This article made me cry real huge alligator tears. My daughter is so gentle. So kind. So innocent. I am loud, hard and sometimes not gentle enough for her. I pray always for more grace and understanding from God. Thank you for sharing.

  11. This is such an amazing perspective. I am so worried about how the world will affect my daughter. I much prefer the idea of raising her to be extra kind, than preparing her for a difficult world.

  12. I really do hope the Bens of the world can change the world we’re living in. It’s sad that we have to teach children to be tough. My nephew is exactly the same, such a beautiful personality but it does make you worry about them more.

  13. It just makes me melt when I see kids being kind in the way Ben is towards his friends and relatives, I think it’s something that should always be celebrated x

  14. Hmmmm like you say he is still very young. I am not a child psychologist or psychologist of any kind lol, but I should think that maybe he’ll learn much more easily than others to be assertive. Assertive means neither aggressive or passive, it means “I am ok” “you are ok”. I think it is more difficult than it sounds to achieve assertiveness and a balance, most people range on the aggressive scale, or passive scale or the passive aggressive scale (the worst). But he might actually learn to be quite balanced quite easily!

  15. Aww, Ben sounds completely lovely. I’d worry people will take advantage of his lovely nature too. Broke my heart that he gave away his Harry Potter keyring simply because someone asked for it and it didn’t occur to him to say no 🙁 Just because he has a beautiful soul doesn’t mean he’ll be a walkover in his adult life. I think you’re doing a great job of raising a lovely person.

  16. Your boy sounds like a very lovely person indeed. As long as he is not getting bullied for his soft side or taken advantage of I wouldn’t worry. some people are just very calm and relaxed and happy to give over things that they like. My son although quite opposite to your little boy has no problem in giving his sweets or anything away he is very sharing and he has always been like that. I think that was really kind of him to give his key ring away but only as long as he wanted to and he wasn’t upset about it. I hope he never changes because he sounds like a very lovely boy xxx

  17. You have it right there in the last line. He’s still really young and may change in time, which could be for better or worse, but keep nurturing him and showing him that nice is better and I’m sure he’ll be just fine.

  18. He sounds like a wonderful, kind soul! I know what you mean though, about being walked over. It’s so sad that people take advantage of genuine kindness, but I guess it’s human nature to want more of the nice stuff. I hope he grows up to remain kind, but strong! Thanks for joining in #TheMMLinky x

  19. My daughter is a gentle, nice soul too. I do worry about her being taking advantage of in the future, worry big time. At the same time I feel so proud when others say she’s polite and kind.
    The world definitely needs more Bens in it! #TheMMLinky

  20. He will find his place in the world as we all do and I am so sorry to say it but we probably cannot do anything to stop our children being hurt. I remember at least one of my children handing over precious things to people at school and worrying if they did it because they are nice or because they were being bullied. He has your love and support. There is strength in gentleness that should not be under-estimated, So often it is the quite gentle ones that change the world for the better and go down in history. But yes, it is hard as a mum. #FamilyFun

  21. I think all parents worry about their children in this world. We just have to raise them the way we feel is right – giving them the tools and courage to stand up for themselves and know their morals when it comes to difficult decisions.

  22. If he was upset after giving away his things then I would be concerned but from the way it sounds he places no attachment to them and gives them away happily. That is such a rare quality and sounds like the mindset yogis have been trying to teach for years to help people lead more fulfilling and peaceful lives. To have that mindset already, and for it to be his natural state, is amazing. We could definitely do with more Ben’s in this world. In terms of bullying, the bullies tend to pick on the weaker kids who they can get a reaction out of, if he’s not reacting there’s no fun it for them so I would hope he will be fine on that front. Hopefully he will be a source of inspiration to his peers instead. Thank you for joining #FamilyFunLinky x

  23. I used to worry abit about N too. When he was younger at nursery or with his cousins, I’d worry that he never stood up for himself when playing. Others would take toys off him, he’d share really nicely even if he still wanted to play with something. But he did love rough and tumble with his dad and uncles. But at age 5, he started standing up for himself and he won’t let himself be drawn into things he doesn’t want too. Mine is definitely a boy’s boy when it comes to playing – he’ll sit down and draw or write, but mostly he likes being outside and running round, loves playing trains at the moment (thanks YouTube for the obsession for extreme Brio tracks), and pours scorn on ‘girly’ things. But he’s got a very strong sense of right and wrong, and fairness. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time for the assertiveness to come. #bloggerclubuk

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