Remember growing up and boys being told to man up? The idea of having a sensitive child was unheard of. Children were told to suck it up. We were expected to be strong and never show weakness. If you were raised this way, you may have trouble raising a sensitive child. You may find yourself struggling to understand what you’re supposed to do. Let’s take a closer look at some tips for parenting a sensitive child.
First, I want to say that parenting a sensitive child is as rewarding as it is challenging. Our son is very “tender-hearted,” as my own mom says, and that makes him the best snuggle buddy in the world. He loves to be close to his family and friends. He gives hugs and cuddles freely. He’s compassionate with everyone he meets. He’s very in tune with the feelings of others, especially if they’re sad or in pain. He makes me a better person.
But he also gets overwhelmed easily and requires loads of reassurance when doing homework, trying an activity that’s outside his comfort zone or meets someone new. He dislikes loud noises, won’t touch foods or drinks that have faces on them and is afraid to be alone in his room.
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Here are some tips/techniques that have helped us be more understanding of his emotional sensitivities while setting healthy boundaries for him.
First things first. You need to accept that your child is sensitive, and that’s okay. It’s okay for your child to have emotional reactions to seemingly normal activities. We no longer live in a society where its unacceptable. The sooner you accept that your child is more sensitive than others, the sooner you’ll be able to be a better parent to your child.
Give Your Child Quiet Time
You don’t want to constantly push your child. You may think that pushing him to interact with more kids or do more activities will make a difference. What your child really needs is to have quiet time each day. Have quiet-time activities for your child to do each day. Take him to the library to pick out some books, buy some puzzles and word books for him to work on, and make a comfortable space for him to get away from everything. Lego time is also a great quiet-time activity. It would also be great to break out the tools and build a little hiding spot for your child to spend time in.
Stick to the Rules
Just because your child is sensitive and, at times, easily upset, doesn’t mean you can break the rules. This will only make things harder. The key is to focus on discipline rather than punishment. There should be consequences when your child acts out. Also, you shouldn’t let your child get out of something just because she starts crying. For example, if she starts crying when asked to do her chores, don’t bend the rules. She needs to do her share just like the rest of your children.
Praise Your Child
You don’t want to overly praise your child. It has been shown that overly praising your child can lead to lower self-esteem. What you want to do is praise your child appropriately. For example, you might say something like, “I think it’s great that you didn’t give up on completing that book even though you thought it was boring.”
Teach Problem-Solving Skills
Last, but not least, work with your child to build problem-solving skills. You can roleplay to create different scenarios to see how your child would work through it. When your child is better able to solve problems on her own, it will build self-confidence.
Parenting a sensitive child can be challenging if you’re not used to the heightened emotions, preferences, etc. This is especially true if you were raised to never show your sensitive side. You may be tempted to teach your child to “man up,” but that isn’t going to fix anything. In fact, this can cause your child to become withdrawn. Learn to accept your child for who he is and work to make his life the best it can be.