Highly sensitive children, like adults, live every day experiencing every emotion and stressor on a higher level.
They are keenly aware of social situations and respond to situations with heightened emotions. Navigating life in this way is difficult for most adults, so it is significantly more difficult for children.
If your child is highly sensitive, there are steps you can take to help support him or her and set them up to be successful adults.
HSPs are much more likely to feel shame at even the slightest of corrections. Make sure your child knows that their emotions are valid and accepted, even if there is disagreement about options, emotions, or behaviors.
Process and Understand Emotions
All children must learn to process and understand their emotions. For HS children, this can may mean you will need to walk through situations with them and talk about emotions more. Encourage your child to always discuss their feelings so they can feel safe and understood at home.
Outlets for emotions, the good and the bad, are very important for anyone who identifies as an HSP. These outlets can be basic, such as verbalizing how he or she feels and why. They can also be creative outlets, like drawing or painting feelings on a canvas. This teaches children to express themselves in safe and respectful ways and will also keep them from bottling up their emotions.
Find and Use Tools
These tools can be for many things. Tools for expressing oneself, such as writing. Tools for calming oneself, such as deep breathing. There are also tools that can be used for distracting during stressful situations. No matter the tool, make sure it is a healthy tool, and one that will not become a crutch later in life.
Most highly sensitive children do not respond to more harsh forms of discipline. Pay attention to what works for your child. Regardless, a time out or talking it through will always be healthier and more effective than severe punishment.
No matter what tools or outlets you find are helpful for your highly sensitive child, the one thing you can give him or her is an appreciation for themselves.
Teach your child that everyone is different, with strengths and weaknesses, but that being highly sensitive doesn’t have to be a weakness.
Teach them that being highly sensitive is actually a strength, a superpower that needs a little work. Super Man didn’t fly straight and high the first time.
Maybe you are an HSP. Maybe you are not. Either way, with a child that is highly sensitive, you have the opportunity to raise him or her into a strong adult that can contribute to their relationships, workplaces, and the lives of others in important and meaningful ways.