Although many people seem to think a sensitive child is a shy child, this is not always the case. In many cases, a child that is sensitive is a child that sees things in a deeper way and shyness may not be the problem at all. Raising a child that is sensitive is not an easy task, but with good parenting skills, you can raise this child to grow up to be an adult that is insightful and creative. However, the problem occurs when parents are drawn into certain negative reactions that make it more difficult for your child. Children considered sensitive actually have a nervous system that is highly sensitive, and it is important to learn how to best deal with this child so you can help them become a productive adult in the future.
Signs of a Sensitive Child
There are a variety of different traits that a sensitive child will display. While your child may not have all the signs, children who are sensitive usually display several of the following signs for a substantial amount of time. Every child may react in similar ways from time to time, so as you look at the signs, only count it as a sign for your child if it is true for a moderate amount of time in your child’s life. Here are several of those signs to watch out for:
– Notices even very slight odors that are unusual
– Prefers play that is quiet
– Learns best with correction that is gentle instead of punishment that is strong
– Feels things in a very deep way
– Has a difficult time with change
– Asks questions that are thought provoking and deep
– Is easily startled
– Shows a lot of intuition
– Notices when others are distressed
– Performs better when there are no strangers around
– Ensures safety before climbing
– Notices things that are very subtle
Challenges of Raising a Sensitive Child
There are a variety of different challenges that can occur when you are raising a sensitive child. These challenges often occur because a child that is very sensitive finds many situations in life to be over stimulating, while a non-sensitive child would not be bothered by these situations. One big challenge is the deep meltdowns emotionally that can occur with a child that is sensitive. Their emotions are very sensitive, which means emotions can come out even over seemingly simple issues. Another challenge is that your child may be over cautious and they may fear situations or people that are unknown to them. Often they feel uncomfortable with places that are crowded, noisy, and new to them and they also can be easily over stimulated.
Strengths of a Sensitive Child
Of course, while there are challenges to parenting a child that is sensitive, it is important that you take a look at the strengths that these children have. Many parents make the mistake of referring to sensitivity as a negative trait. In reality, children who are sensitive have strengths that other children do not. Looking at their strengths can help you better parent your child as well. Children who are more sensitive have strengths like being patient and kind. They are often very creative and usually have a great sense of humor. Other strengths include intuition, wisdom, being conscientious, intellectual, and even very spiritual. Begin looking at your child in the light of their strengths and you’ll be able to parent them more effectively, since you’ll better understand where they are coming from as a child.
Tips for Parenting Your Sensitive Child
If you have established that you are parenting sensitive child, you may be wondering what you can do. Here is a look at some tips and strategies that can help you raise a child that is highly sensitive.
Tip #1 – Accept Your Child – First, it’s important that you accept your child they way they are. Don’t try to change your child – it only makes things get worse. When you accept your child you’ll help them understand that they are okay just the way they are, which is important to every child.
Tip #2 – Use Positive Terms – When you are discussing or even thinking about your child’s sensitive temperament, make sure you use positive terms. Don’t use terms that are negative or your child may feel like they are flawed. Instead of using words like “shy,” use words like “reflective” or “focused.”
Tip #3 – Build Self Esteem and Avoid Shame – It is so important that you help your child build self esteem and avoid making them feel ashamed. Children that are sensitive are very critical of themselves already. Try to raise self esteem with praise and avoid disciplining with shame.
Tip #4 – Discipline Carefully – Discipline of the sensitive child should always be very careful. Starting out with clear rules can help. Usually simply talking to your child about a problem is enough to help them correct their behavior. You should never use discipline that is overly harsh, since it won’t work with these children.
Tip #5 – Help Your Child Make Friends – Sometimes sensitive kids have a harder time making friends. Helping them make a couple friends can be helpful. Consider arranging playdates that are one on one or help your child become friends with other children who are also sensitive.
Tip #6 – Learn to Push and Protect at the Right Times – There are times to push your child a bit and other times they need protection. Learn to know which is needed. While protection is important in some cases, there are many times when a little push will help them.
Tip #7 – Realize When Overstimulation is Causing Undesirable Behavior – It may be easy to lash out at your child for their behavior. This is why you need to realize when overstimulation is causing the undesirable behavior to occur. Get to the root of the problem by eliminating the over stimulation.
While there are unique challenges that come with parenting a sensitive child, there are also unique benefits and rewards that parents can enjoy as well. Work together and learn from each other. With some patience and some helpful tips you’ll be able to do a good job at parenting the sensitive child.