Highly sensitive people are a curious breed—they’re the ones that feel everything more profoundly than the rest of us. They’re prone to overstimulation and emotional outbursts because they simply feel too much. It can be difficult for them to cope with the intensity of the stimuli they’re exposed to, so it’s crucial for them to develop healthy management skills.
Children who are highly sensitive need support to process their strong emotions. You may notice that they’re quieter and more perceptive than other children, as well as more empathetic toward other people and animals. They may have difficulty winding down after an exciting day and adapting to changes. They can be easily overwhelmed and prone to throwing tantrums or shutting down.
As a parent, you can help your little ones adopt efficient coping mechanisms that they’ll be able to use in adulthood. Here’s what to do to make your little one more comfortable and at ease.
See the world from their perspective
One of the biggest problems with being overly sensitive is that others often dismiss or misunderstand you. Brushing off their deep feelings as insignificant can be very discouraging for a young person. If you try to put yourself in their shoes and let them know that their feelings are valid, you will strengthen their self esteem. By acknowledging their feelings, you’ll be acknowledging them as unique individuals. The gift of understanding is one of the best gifts you can give your child, so be open and flexible when they share their experience of the world.
Give them plenty of downtime
Because they’re so sensitive, they can get overstimulated and agitated after being exposed to strong stimuli. For example, they’re unlikely to enjoy being in large crowds for a long time. If you’ve just come home from a big party, make sure they have some time to themselves to unwind. You’ll want to let them do a relaxing activity, like reading or coloring, to calm down.
Establish a routine
All children like routine, and it is especially important for highly sensitive children to have a well established, familiar schedule. They don’t take well to abrupt changes, and it takes them quite a while to get used to new additions to their routine. While changes will inevitably happen because that’s how life works, make sure you give them time to get accustomed to them, and do what you can to maintain order. For example, if they’re used to having fun at their favorite playground on weekends, make sure you don’t skip it.
Talk about your feelings
Teaching your highly sensitive child to name their emotions and work through them verbally can be very useful. Feel free to share how you feel because this will provide them with a healthy model of coping with emotions. Also, ask them how certain situations make them feel and help them put it into words. This may help prevent tantrums and meltdowns because they’ll be able to express themselves more calmly instead.
Praise them for who they are
If your little one feels everything profoundly, they’ll be more likely to empathize with other people and to be nurturing and caring. This is a very positive trait that you should emphasize and praise them for. It’s also a good idea to help them express this natural inclination. For example, adopt a pet and teach them how to care for it. By showing that you notice their strong suits, you’ll empower them and give them wings.
When they’re in the throes of an emotional outburst, the last thing your child needs is for you to start coming apart at the seams. Parenting requires plenty of patience, and it’s especially important to keep calm when you’re parenting a highly sensitive child. If you’re relaxed, they’ll be more likely to relax too, and regulate their emotional response.