How To Help And Parent A Sensitive Child?
I remember the fights and tantrums I had with my siblings and friends in my childhood. I would be laughing and playing with the same sibling or friend with whom I used to fight like cats and dogs. She was known to be sensitive. Now, what does that mean? Who is a sensitive child? Well, in simple words a child who gets hurt or affected over a small issue and does not reconcile easily is said to be sensitive.
Common traits you will find in a sensitive child:
A sensitive child is very emotional. A harsh word, look or even a small complaint may reduce the child to tears. Such a child gets disturbed seeing others in trouble. He or she may go out of their way to help the person in trouble.
2. Feels guilty:
When the child commits mistakes, he/she will feel guilty, upset and thinks about the mistake for a prolonged period, making themselves and other family members miserable. No consolations can help them. It takes time for them to get back to the routine.
3. Good observations:
Sensitive children are good observers. They are aware of their surroundings and have a keen sense of observation towards people. They often judge them and can accurately tell about their behavior and traits.
Sensitive children are inquisitive and will ask lots of questions. They won’t take things for granted. If the family visits a particular place, the child will tire the parents by asking them numerous questions about the place.
5. Well - mannered:
A sensitive child is often found to be polite and well-mannered. He /she will prefer to stay in the shadows rather than limelight.
6. Difficulty in choosing:
A sensitive child faces difficulty in making a choice. He/she goes into details of the product which often makes him/her confused before making a choice. Sometimes it can be a simple choice between colors or flavors that often leaves the child baffled. The child may even leave the place without buying them and then hate himself for not buying.
Sensitive children face difficulty in making or nurturing a relationship. A small comment or observation, in general, is taken very personal by such children. Friends and family should be careful about their conversations when a sensitive child is around.
11 Habits of highly sensitive children:
- The child faces a problem with sleep since infancy. Even small disturbances will awake him.
- He tries to block loud noises by putting his hands over his ears. The sounds that irritate him are that of sirens, mixie, alarm clock, horn, etc.
- The child takes time to warm up in a social gathering even if they are known, people.
- He is very particular about details. Even small changes in the house or familiar place is noticed by him.
- The child can’t bear the pain and becomes highly reactive.
- In unknown or busy places, the child tries to hide behind his parents.
- He has a strong sense of smell.
- He becomes upset when he sees other children crying or in discomfort.
- The child is happy in his own company preferring to play with his own toys.
- He prefers creative arts like drawing, painting or performing arts.
- The sensitive child likes to be a perfectionist for which he takes great trouble.
Types of sensitive children:
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1. Emotionally sensitive child:
Some children are emotionally sensitive by birth. Small things can upset them easily. They are often misunderstood as drama queens/kings which they are actually not. It is their nature that they feel the physical and emotional pain more than their peers. The child bawls when she falls down without even getting hurt. The act of falling down itself creates emotional pain. Such behavior is common until the age of five or six and by then the child learns to control the tantrums and meltdowns. When the behavior persists even after this phase, the parents, counselors or child psychologists can step-in to help and guide the child to become emotionally secure.
2. Oversensitive child:
The overly sensitive child reacts to even very simple or ordinary situations. For example, if the child loses her favorite pencil, she will refuse to write and create a scene. The overly sensitive child takes time to forgive, forget and be normal especially when there is a fight or break up with friends. Such children also cry when the ending of a story or a movie is sad.
3. Hyper child:
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A child who is abnormally active and unable to focus is said to be a hyperactive child. Such children get easily distracted and have trouble paying attention to details or remembering things. There is an urge for constant movement and it is very difficult for them to sit quietly. Such children face difficulty in sitting in the classroom and paying attention to the teacher. They constantly disturb their classmates and it is difficult to discipline them. At home, they pose a problem for the parents were always in danger of hurting themselves. There are many causes related to this condition such as hyperthyroidism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sleep disorders, hearing problems, psychiatric problems, some medications, family disturbances, etc which only a healthcare professional can pinpoint and advise measures to control the condition.
How to help an overly sensitive child:
It is a real challenge for the parent to bring up a sensitive child. The parent has to be cautious, patient and be aware of the sensitive nature of the child. They should know the ways and methods to handle it. Following are the tips to handle sensitive children.
Accept the child along with her sensitive nature. Be proud of her and do not let her self-esteem go down by apologizing to family and friends for her being different.
2. Talking helps:
Talk to your child whenever she is emotional or overwhelmed by things that bother her. Talking to her and making her understand her feelings and being able to express and speak about it will help her to get through.
3. Show empathy:
Whenever your child is upset, show empathy even if the situation is not that serious. This will help her get over her bad feelings.
4. Allowing alone time:
When you find your child fussing or truant, give her some time and space to be alone. This will help her focus on her feelings and calm down.
5. Avoiding the usual methods of discipline:
Spanking or scolding to discipline the sensitive child doesn’t work and it may have adverse effects in the form of crying, screaming or nonresponsive. Such children should be disciplined in a different way by explaining the results of their actions.
6. Never ever try to change them.
Many parents are tempted to change the behavior of their sensitive child by forcing them to do things which they don’t like. They should accept the fact that the nature of the child is sensitive and it will remain so.
7. Help them to deal with adversity:
The sensitive child is unable to deal with adversity and easily gives up. It is the duty of the parent to equip the child with the skills to face adversities.
8. Making them overcome fears:
Many sensitive children have fears that make them insecure. As a parent, it is our duty to make them understand that their fears are baseless or how to counter the fear.
9. Being a cool parent:
In many instances, the reactions of the sensitive child will make the parent lose his/ her cool. If the parent gets frustrated by the behavior of the child, it will result in a breakdown of the parent’s patience. The parent should realize the situation and step out or hand over to the other partner before any damage is done.
The sensitive child is comforted by the touch of the parent especially when she is going through emotional turmoil. Mere touch or a pat can help the child to calm down.
Being a parent to a highly sensitive child is a challenge in itself. The parent has to put aside his/her own personal problems when parenting the child. He/she needs to accept the child and be extra patient, empathetic and understanding to guide the child through emotional ups and downs.
Also read: Toddler Fears: #2 Fear of Strangers