What can parents do to help their sons become more sensitive and empathetic towards others?
Be a shining example! I do believe children in general will model what they see and the younger the better. A father plays a big role in a sons life and if he see's his father being gentle, full of compassion, I think he will feel more comfortable in showing a sensitive side. A over bearing mother too can hurt a son, tenderness goes a long way in a mother and son's relationship.
I treat my boys the same way I treat my daughter. I think a lot of the problems in today's society comes from teaching boys and girls different. I don't say things like "don't hit girls" I say don't hit. If we want more sensitive and empathetic children then all we ever really have to do is teach, respect, and love our children. It's a learned behavior for the most part.
Read my article "A Discipline Method that Works". By using stacked-relational consequences, especially the relational part, you are teaching children (especially when Mom does with with son) how to enter into the space of 'difficult intimacy'. Your future daughter in law will hug you.
Never stop reminding them on the things you want them to be. This is the theory of Repeatition Learning.
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