Let’s be honest: being a parent can be extremely difficult. From being the one your child turns to when they’re upset, to being home with your kids day in and day out: no parent has it all figured out, no parent has it easy, and we’re all pretty much exhausted constantly. Figuring out how to parent a sensitive child can be even more difficult and trying, and can often make parents feel as though they have no idea what they’re doing.
Sensitive children are often very aware of what’s going on around them and are quick to notice changes in their environments. Sensitive kids may also be gifted intellectually and can be capable of demonstrating compassion at an early age. However, they may become overwhelmed very easily by noise, new situations, and groups. Here are a few tips that have helped me parent my sensitive three-year-old son.
How to Parent a Sensitive Child
- Recognize what triggers your child to feel overwhelmed. This can be anything at all, from a new situation such as going to a different playground; to a loud gathering such as a child’s birthday party; to a simple change in the daily routine. Being more aware of the stressors in your child’s environment can definitely help you better prepare your child for the day ahead.
- Be Responsive, but don’t dwell. It’s easy to tell your child to get over it, or to calm down. Unfortunately, as is the case with my son, reacting that way may just make the matter at hand worse. Instead, acknowledge what’s happening without giving the situation too much attention, and then move on: for example “I understand that you’re upset, but we have so many other exciting things to do today!”; or pretty much whatever works for you.
- Distract. Simple, but very effective. Sometimes I have to pull a hundred silly faces and tickle my son into oblivion, but eventually, he is distracted enough to move on from whatever it was that upset him.
- Focus On Strengths. For instance, my son may not be the most social boy on the playground and may not shine like some of the other children at certain activities – mainly because he prefers to stand back and observe, and he is shy. But he is athletically gifted, so my husband and I make sure to include activities that he can master into his routine, such as having races in the park, or climbing the jungle gym.
- Calm Area. This is something we’ve just recently introduced in our home. We’ve created a Calm Corner in the living room, with a cute dragon mat on the floor and a couple of my son’s favorite action figurines and books. When he gets overwhelmed or upset, a few minutes of calm seem to really help him.
- Acceptance. Easier said than done in this age of social media, with constant updates about everyone’s brilliant children on Facebook for sure. However, it’s important to realize that our sensitive children are just that: children. Just as we can’t change our own psychological makeup, we cannot change theirs either.
If your child is a sensitive one like mine, hopefully, some of the techniques that I use with my son will come in handy for you. Providing a supportive, stable and happy environment for your child will definitely help your child achieve a sense of balance in the world. Being sensitive is not a hindrance after all; in fact, it is a gift.