How we interact with our highly sensitive children in turn determines their reaction and how they deal with the situation facing them. These five tips are a culmination of things I have learned along my parenting journey. Keeping these tips forefront in my mind makes a huge difference to how I parent my highly sensitive children – and how they respond to me.
GIVE YOUR CHILD WARNING OF A TRANSITION
Whether you are going from one place to another, or asking your highly sensitive child (HSC) to change from one activity to another, give your child time to adjust to the idea of the transition. In general, HSCs do not like change and don’t respond well to being asked to stop what they are doing and quickly switch to something else. For example, “Dinner will be ready in 15 minutes. You have ten more minutes to play and then five minutes to tidy up” will work much better than, “Dinner is nearly ready! Clear away your toys now and get ready to eat.”
DON’T RAISE YOUR VOICE
Shouting at a HSC will only upset, stress and scare them. Shouting for them to hurry up because you are late getting out of the front door for school will have anything but the desired effect of getting them to move faster. Keep things calm, including your voice, if you want to get your message through to a HSC.
PAINT A PICTURE
The unknown is scary for a HSC. Whether it’s a friend’s house they have never visited before, their first judo lesson or a fun filled afternoon at the local swimming pool, many HSCs experience stress when it comes to visiting new places or doing new things.
Wherever possible, it’s beneficial to take them to see a venue or meet a person before they are obliged to participate. Meeting with the judo class teacher or sitting in on a judo class with you in advance of their first lesson, for example, can provide the reassurance a HSC needs to feel comfortable about starting a new activity. Peeping through the windows of the local pool a day before a planned trip there can ease a HSC’s worries considerably.
If visiting a place, or meeting people in advance isn’t possible, then painting a picture for them can help. Look on the internet for photos or descriptions. Allowing them to visualise what they will be doing or where they are going will help immensely.
TAKE YOUR CHILD’S FEELINGS SERIOUSLY
Your child’s feelings are real. No matter how trivial something may seem to you your HSC’s worries are absolutely real. Accept and acknowledge how they feel and help them work through their emotions – don’t dismiss them. Stating, “I can see that you are scared. Can you tell me why?” is far more helpful than saying, “It’s just a little dog, there’s nothing to be scared of.”
TRUST THAT YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD
This is so important. You are (most likely) with your child far more than anyone else in their life. You know your child. You know what makes your child happy, what causes worry, how they will react to a specific situation, how they will feel about an activity. You know your child’s limitations. You know what makes their hearts soar. You know your child, you really do. Trust that you know your child. That fact will help you make decisions about and with your child that help them flourish – even when there is opposition to your way of doing things. Trust you know what your child needs to grow.
Over to You: What tips have worked to help you parent your HSC in a way that gets the best out of them? I love hearing from you all about your own HSC parenting journeys!