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The Best Parenting Strategies for Highly Sensitive Children

Parenting strategies for highly sensitive children help you nurture your sensitive child. Read about their needs and tips to help your child thrive on HealthyPlace.

Using the best parenting strategies for highly sensitive children will help them blossom. Here you’ll explore ideas specifically designed to meet your child’s needs. Nurture your highly sensitive child with these parenting strategies.

The term “highly sensitive” refers to extreme emotional or physical sensitivity—in many cases, these kids are hypersensitive to both. You might have a highly sensitive son or daughter if they:

  • Feel and empathize with others’ emotions
  • Are perfectionistic
  • Question almost everything
  • Don’t handle change well
  • Startle easily
  • Prefer quiet play
  • Are influenced by their environment
  • Are sensitive to pain
  • Have frequent emotional meltdowns (crying, yelling, tantrums)
  • Struggle with fabric, tags, seams
  • Are intelligent
  • Experience life deeply

Engage with your child and observe when, why, and how they react to their world. That way, you can determine what parenting strategies for highly sensitive children will help your child with their unique sensitivities and strengths.

A Strategy for Parenting Highly Sensitive Children: It’s All About Your Perspective

How you see your child affects what you communicate and how they respond. Sensitive kids aren’t trying to annoy you. What looks like an overreaction is a genuine response to feelings, sensations, and experiences that are bigger than they are. Highly sensitive children have a nervous system that is unusually reactive and aware. (Healy, 2011). They’re hardwired to be exactly the way they are.

When you see your child’s sensitivity is a gift, you’ll look at them in new, more appreciative ways. They have unique gifts such as strong empathy, deep love, creativity, and intelligence.

Perhaps the most helpful perspective for the parents of a highly sensitive child is that there is nothing wrong with them. Extreme sensitivity isn’t a mental disorder or an illness, nor is it a problem to be fixed; however, these children do have specific needs that you, as their parent, can help meet.

Learn the Needs of Your Highly Sensitive Child

These kids need to be accepted for who they are. Rather than trying to reduce their levels of sensitivity and intensity, work with them as they are, using the strengths, talents, and interests they have.

Highly sensitive kids need their parents’ support and respect. Resist the urge to apologize to parents, teachers, and strangers on behalf of your child. When your child hears you apologizing for the way they are, they’ll be devastated.

For all the times when your child becomes overwhelmed with emotions (theirs or others’) without the safety of nearby parents, they need to be able to self-soothe to calm down. Help them learn to breathe slowly and deeply, find one focal point to concentrate on to redirect their attention, walk away from the commotion (safely), and other techniques they can draw from.

Downtime is vital for kids who easily become wound up. Highly sensitive kids need a quiet, calm place they can go to self-soothe. Let your child help decorate the space and equip it with soothing activities like drawing supplies, puzzles, stress balls—anything that feels good and comforts your child.

Once you’ve discovered what your child needs for nurturing and support, you can use specific strategies to help your child.

Highly Sensitive Child Parenting Strategies

If you’re a parent of a highly sensitive child, your mission isn’t to change your child but rather to work with them to both teach them how to handle the intensity of their life and to help them thrive with their gifts. Some ways to do it include:

  • Keep a calm, soothing home environment.
  • Establish predictable, consistent routines.
  • Help them to gradually tolerate change at home, school, and elsewhere by letting them practice accepting change in a safe manner and slow pace.
  • Learn their triggers and minimize exposure to them.
  • Rather than dismissing or scolding your child for an emotional outburst, acknowledge it calmly after it’s done; then, discuss the strong emotional reaction with your child.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to have positive social experiences as they enhance growth.
  • Have two or three of the same blankets and/or stuffed animals so you can wash them. Keep rotating them so they always have the same laundered scent.
  • Disciplining a highly sensitive child is essential for them to grow and mature into responsible adults. Provide clear limits, gentle structure, and logical consequences. Never scold or yell.
  • Offer them simple choices to empower them.

Parenting a highly sensitive child can bring many frustrations. When you use the above highly sensitive child parenting strategies as well as some of your own, you’ll enjoy your sensitive child’s wonderful strengths, abilities, and compassion.

You may also like 5 Tips for Parenting a Strong-Willed Child.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, July 18). The Best Parenting Strategies for Highly Sensitive Children, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/parenting-skills-strategies/the-best-parenting-strategies-for-highly-sensitive-children

Last Updated: September 12, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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