All human beings are inherently different, reacting to the varied stimuli around them in myriad ways.
A highly reactive child is more aware of, and reactive to, their surroundings. They might even take situations personally. When looking at how to deal with sensitive kids, it’s vital to pay attention to their feelings and behavior, and respect them for who they are.
Not for the version of the people you want them to be.
What is even meant by the term ‘highly sensitive child?’ Let’s take a look.
Common Traits of a Highly Sensitive Kid
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the term ‘highly sensitive child’ implies a kid who is more susceptible to people and situations. Here are some of the common traits of highly sensitive kids, that you want to keep an eye out for.
There’s really no telling what is going to provoke an emotional outburst in a child who is highly sensitive. It might be the mere sight of seeing a caged bird in a pet store. The thing is, highly sensitive children feel so bad for others, they even go out of their way to help them at times.
Taking things Personally
A highly sensitive kid will feel that whatever is being said, is applicable to them and them alone.
Tip: Never compare them to another child. It might make them feel you expect too much from them.
An Unwarranted Sense of Guilt
If they have done something wrong, they will feel more guilty about it than they should. What’s more, they will not come out of that feeling for a long time, no matter what you say or do.
They are exceptional readers of People
Interestingly, highly sensitive kids have a sharp sense of people-observation. They are good judges of character and garner an accurate picture of what another person is.
They have an intense need for control
Sensitive kids are perpetually overwhelmed by the world around them. That’s why they hanker after a sense of control. They do this by coming up with fixed ideas and expectations of how kids should be. This includes dictating where people will sit and even what clothes they should and shouldn’t wear.
Parenting Tips for Highly Sensitive Toddlers
Raising a highly sensitive child can be a daunting task. After all, they are different from other kids and often find themselves struggling with seemingly routine things.
Here is a list of tips that will help you understand your child better, and also employ the best strategies to nurture them well.
Provide ample downtime
When looking at how to treat a sensitive person, remember this: they can get easily overwhelmed. It’s common for highly sensitive kids to find themselves overstimulated by larger groups, sounds and even feelings.
Tip: Ensure you give them plenty of downtime infused with quiet and relaxing activities. That will help your child decompress and recharge.
Encourage their strengths
This is certainly one of the most important and healthy parenting tips for toddlers that are highly sensitive.
Tip: Shower your child every now and then, with heartfelt praise for their positive actions. When you do, it will help normalize and humanize their feelings. Moreover, it will also serve to reinforce their empathy for others.
Establish a sense of Structure and Routine
Like other kids, highly sensitive children thrive on a sense of structure and routine. Having a familiar routine helps them feel safe and know what to expect.
Tip: Avoid abrupt changes as much as you can. When unavoidable changes crop up, ensure you give your little one ample notice. That will give them time to adjust.
Share Your Emotional Journey
Perhaps one of the best ways to comfort sensitive children is by showing them that they are not alone in their pain.
Tip: Recount your own failures and disappointments with your children – especially those that you didn’t handle with grace. This will lend them comfort and hope, apart from teaching them that it’s okay to not be perfect.
Be Accepting of your Mistakes
The last thing you want to do is to be worrying about damaging those highly sensitive kids permanently by the mistakes you make.
Tip: Apologize when needed to your child, and even be open to change, if needed. Your child wants loving and approachable parents, rather than perfect ones.
Manage your Expectations
As the parent of a highly sensitive child, it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed, too. Especially in the case of those meltdowns you are doing your very best to avoid.
Tip: Be realistic. You cannot prevent every single meltdown. It can be most relieving to accept the fact that a meltdown might just happen at any time and there is little you can do to prevent it. That will go a long way in helping you manage your child better.
Don’t minimize their Emotions
You really don’t want to underplay the emotions of a highly sensitive child.
Tip: Don’t give in to the knee-jerk reaction of trying to make their uncomfortable feelings go away. Instead, talk to them about what they are feeling. Acknowledge and validate those feelings.
Stay Present, but provide Space
Often, parents of highly sensitive children can make things even worse for their little ones by repeating an empathetic response time and again.
Tip: Of course you want to comfort your child, but after you do, simply assuage them with your calm presence.
Share Your Perspectives
Once the storm has passed, you want to share your advice on another way they might have handled the situation.
Tip: Ask them their permission, to share your thoughts with them. This lends them a sense of control, allowing them to be more receptive to your ideas.
It is our belief at EuroKids, that with an adequate amount of practice and support, highly sensitive kids can manage their emotions to avoid becoming overwhelmed or over-reactive. We take special care to ensure that all highly sensitive kids in our classrooms are given the special attention they deserve.