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How do I parent my emotionally sensitive child? [A brief guide]

Children who experience intense emotions can be incredibly imaginative, empathetic, and intuitive. They may have heightened awareness of their surroundings but struggle with filtering information. This rich inner life can be both a gift and a challenge for them, especially as their brains are still developing. Big emotions can lead to big behaviors, which can confuse both the child and their parents.

Identifying Traits of Sensitive Children:
  • May experience heightened stress, anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • May struggle to cope with change, challenges, and criticism.
  • May have frequent and intense emotional outbursts and difficulty regulating emotions and impulses.
  • May feel isolated, misunderstood, or rejected by peers and have low self-esteem or confidence.

Our emotionally sensitive children need more guidance and support to help them manage their emotions and develop their God given strengths. Obviously this means parents may need to be a lot more patient than they would otherwise be - this can be confounding especially if they have a sibling who is a lot more easy going.

You must refrain from making comparisons with other children as tempting as that might be and you must find ways to look after yourself as much as you can because of how easy it can be for your cup to run low. 

But these ideas will hopefully bring some nourishment to you and assist your effort to understand and parent your emotionally sensitive children:

  • Emotional sensitivity is a trait. It is not a flaw or a disorder, but a natural part of your child's temperament. Avoid labelling them as "over-reacting" to stuff. 
  • Emotionally sensitive children may need more guidance and support in managing their emotions, especially when they face stress, change, or challenges. Plan ahead and develop a family protocol that involves downtime (they'll need this), limit on social activity (even if it looks like their having fun...because this can change very quickly), structure their activity as much as possible so they know what to expect and practice emotional validation techniques (see below). 
  • There is a lot to be said for 'acceptance'. Sensitive kids do not wake up in the morning wanting to be 'sensitive' and so i'ts important that we learn to validate and listen to their feelings but we must also be able to set clear and reasonable boundaries with warmth and kindness (does not mean you become a push-over), communicating effectively means being clear and specific and consistent with your messaging, picking your battles, and to not be shy about seeking advice and help when needed from professionals or friends and family.
Raising an emotionally sensitive child can be both tiring and difficult, but it can also be a source of immense happiness and satisfaction. Trust me, I understand.

Understanding and accepting our children's temperament, and providing them with love and support, can help our emotionally sensitive kids thrive. In addition to gaining insight from their unique perspectives, we can learn from their sensitivity. They possess distinct strengths and talents, as well as the ability to form deep and meaningful relationships. They appreciate the beauty and subtlety of things that others overlook, and their unique worldview enriches our lives. I'm grateful for the joy they bring to my life!

Effective Emotional Validation Techniques for Parents

If you're seeking new ways to provide emotional support to your child, try implementing some of the following techniques:

  • Start by attentively listening to your child and expressing interest in their feelings and experiences. Use body language, tone of voice, and other cues to demonstrate that you are engaged and empathetic.
  • It's important to remember that your child's emotions and problems are just as valid as your own. Avoid downplaying or dismissing them, and instead acknowledge and accept their feelings without judgement.
  • Be honest and genuine in your interactions with your child. Don't pretend to understand or agree with them if you don't. You can show empathy by saying things like "I can only imagine how you must feel in that situation."
  • Keep in mind that while every emotion is valid, not all behaviors are acceptable. You can validate your child's feelings without condoning harmful or inappropriate actions.
Enroll in the Empathetic Discipline Parenting Course

If you're interested in exploring how empathetic parenting techniques can be used to discipline an emotionally sensitive child, I encourage you to enroll in our Empathetic Discipline Parenting Course. To learn more, click on the following link: : www.huddlewisdom.com/practice 

Do you struggle with your child’s meltdowns?

If you’re a parent of a child who has frequent and intense emotional outbursts, you know how hard it can be to deal with them. You want to help your child calm down, but you don’t know how. You feel frustrated, helpless, and guilty.

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  • The most effective ways to respond and support your child during a meltdown
  • The key steps to recover and reconnect after a meltdown

This stuff is based on my personal and professional experience as a parent and a therapist. I’ve helped hundreds of parents like you overcome the challenges of meltdowns and create a more peaceful and positive family life.

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