Today’s episode is for all those parents who are struggling with a highly sensitive child. Identifying their traits and then handling them in a gentle way is the key to providing them with a happy childhood.
Being a mom of two toddler’s has made me realize that all behaviour is communication. Children can’t express themselves especially when it comes to big feelings like anger and frustration.
Let’s begin with decoding our kid’s behaviours like shouting, slamming doors and throwing things. I am sure we all have had our fair share of these and to provide us with some valuable insights into child behaviour we have with us, Jen Harrison. She is the author of the famous children’s book-
Just As You Are: Celebrating the Wonder of Unconditional Love.by Jen Harrison
She is a speaker, a parent coach who has a track record for showing Moms how to reduce their child’s anger and anxiety by 80% within 6 weeks. These stats got me charged up as a parent.
She has featured in British magazines as a parenting advice expert and has featured as an in-house coach for the Big Life Journal. She has also been named “The Child Whisperer” by Moms worldwide
Let us start by understanding who is a sensitive child? What are his traits because most parents miss on this and label the child as mischievous or naughty rather than understanding the cause for his behaviour?
Who is a sensitive child?
📌1. Depth of Processing
This shows up in your child’s deep questions, use of big words for his age after he has heard them once or twice, clever sense of humour, difficulty making decisions because he is thinking of so many possibilities, or being “slow to warm up” to new people and situations because he has to watch and think it over before joining in.
📌2. Easily Overstimulated
Your child feels everything so deeply; cries easily; “reads your mind”; is a perfectionist or reacts intensely to making the slightest error; or notices the distress of others, including school friends, family members, strangers, and sometimes animals
📌3. Emotional Reactivity and Empathy
Your child feels everything so deeply; cries easily; “reads your mind”; is a perfectionist or reacts intensely to making the slightest error; or notices the distress of others, including school friends, family members, strangers, and sometimes animals. such behaviour is also seen in autistic children and those with ADHD.
📌4. Sensitive to Subtle Stimuli
Being aware of subtle sounds, smells, details, and so forth is all part of being highly sensitive. As a result of this, you will see your child get upset if anyone is angry at home. Another manifestation of this is complaining of frequent tummy aches or pain in different parts of the body and frequent visits to the doctor.
Sensitive children have difficulty in expressing themselves.
It is difficult for a sensitive child to express himself. Their introverted nature in conjunction with their over empathetic behaviour makes them prone to bottling up their emotions. That is not a difficult aspect of raising them. The number one way of dealing with this situation is to make a change in ourselves. We have to be clear communicators for our children. For eg., if we are angry or troubled due to work then instead of venting it out on the kids we should explain it to them.
“I am really tired now/angry now and I need some time for myself, I will play with you in 10 minutes”
What we did here was, we managed our issues and simultaneously taught the child how to express himself. Providing them with an outlet to express themselves and teaching them how to use it, will go a long way in raising an emotionally stable child.
Will my sensitive child end up as an introvert?
Being a sensitive child doesn’t mean he will end up being an introvert or low on self-confidence. In fact, an extroverted child can also be a sensitive child. It’s not a bad thing to have a sensitive child. They are built to feel more.
These children usually remain introvert as it becomes a part of their personality. But a little bit of effort on the part of the parents will help the child to get a confidence boost. In turn, they can face the harsh realities of the world with ease.
The best way to make sure your child doesn’t remain an introvert is to start by giving him age appropriate chores.
Small inconsequential decisions like
which dress do you want today “red or blue?”
“what would you like to eat for breakfast, cereals or apples?”
Make sure to not give a lot of choices as that leaves them confused. Allowing children to make decisions on their own, make their own choices will increase their self confidence immensely. Also worth mentioning is, this is an excellent way of raising independent kids.
Next start taking your kids opinions and choices into consideration. Start by asking more questions like, “ what do you think about it?”
“What should we do now?” This method of igniting critical thinking and problem-solving provides a great boost to the child’s self-confidence.
Sensitive children are more empathetic.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Being empathetic towards your sensitive child will help in reducing their anxiety. But it’s easier said than done. How do we put this into practice? To begin with, you will notice a small visit to the zoo leaves your child sad and troubled. He might be worried about the animals caged up there.
The aim is to not change your child in any way. A kind, sensitive child is what the world needs the most. What we need to do here is empathise with them. Affirm their thoughts that they are not wrong in thinking so. Being empathetic is a good thing. When you start affirming your child’s thoughts it will help him move along sooner.
If he doesn’t have anyone to talk to, no one who understands his point of view, then it is obvious he will be hung up on his thoughts. Talking to them each time your child is troubled with anything is the best way to empathize with your sensitive child.
Do my behaviour and mood affect my sensitive child?
Being a highly sensitive child means you pick up on the behaviours and moods of people who are around you. It is often seen that if the mother or the father is angry then the child picks upon it. In the form of an upset mood, complaining of tummy aches, headaches and so on.
If you have a sensitive child then practising mindful parenting will help you and your child lead a happy life. It’s not some rocket science that you have to decipher. To put it in simpler terms, being aware of your child’s presence at all times is mindful parenting. It is about staying in the moment and being taken over by our emotions like anger, guilt or frustration. The only reason or motivation to make these changes will be your highly sensitive child who gets affected tremendously by how you behave.
You can connect with Jen on her social media and her website below for her support groups and membership programs.
You can find her book “Just as you are” on amazon below.
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