“Do I Have A Sensitive Child!” – Article 1 of Parenting The Sensitive Child*
Remember that old disco song by Chic – “Aw Freak Out” Chances are, when you hear that song it may make you sigh, weep, wring your hands in despair or cause you to laugh hysterically because you already know you are parenting a sensitive child. These children “freak out” at “everything” leading to parent frustration, exhaustion and makes us question every decision we make as parents. On the flipside, sensitive children are some of the most brilliant minds – poets, musicians, artists, writers, scientists, mathematicians and forward thinkers!! Have patience dear parents of these sensitive children, there are many things we can do to support you and your sensitive children!
My Coaching practice is FILLED with sensitive kids and sensitivities manifest themselves in numerous ways. Here are just a few ways to identify that you are living with a sensitive child if you are still unclear:
- They feel “everything” – it can be SO frustrating to reason with these “feelers”
- They worry about the littlest thing – they talk about things that might or could happen – 20 years from now
- They have super vivid imaginations – seeing things and talking to things that we can’t see or hear – carrying on conversations with “invisible friends”
- They often appear nervous or anxious which causes them to back out of participating in fun activities – no amount of reasoning will encourage these wee ones to participate
- They don’t like changes and they need routine – if you don’t follow the routine – all heck breaks loose
- They cry easily or often appear to be feeling sad – no matter how much we try to make cheer them up or make them laugh
- They want to do everything perfectly or they don’t want to do it all – the simplest of activities can upset them like doing crafts, colouring or printing if not done “perfectly”
- Their senses are on overdrive – they appear to have super hearing, super taste buds, or they are sensitive to touch. These kids might not like foods touching, can’t wear clothing with seams, don’t like others to hug or kiss them
- They are very bright and know things you haven’t taught them – this has freaked many parents out and in fact the parents of a young girl that I know actually had to look up a word that she used (at the age of 2) because they didn’t know it!
- They are shy and maybe a little socially awkward and believe “no one likes them” – no amount of convincing or bribery can get these children to participate.
- They don’t sleep or can’t fall asleep easily
So, how do we support these wee ones without losing our marbles along the way?
First, acknowledge that their sensitivities are just part of who they are – embracing their differences can go along way to support self-esteem and self-worth.
Stick to routines whenever possible – including you parents. EVERY child needs routine and for the sensitive child, structure in their routine can help eliminate worry, stress and anxiety.
Allow them to make choices that support them – ask them if they know what they need to best support their needs.
Provide them with “their” outlets; if they enjoy climbing trees, let them climb trees, if they love to read or look at books, let them. If they like to chat with their invisible buddies, let them. They need space to do what best supports them, mind, body and spirit and kids need their down time too!
The most important thing we can do is to offer our children a calm, loving home environment where they are free to speak while their parents listen. We must remember that we are modeling our behaviours to our little ones so, the more calm and relaxed we are around our sensitive children the more calm they are. A solid, supportive foundation at home ensures a child can navigate life with greater confidence despite their sensitivities. *originally published online in 2013