“Big kids don’t cry.”
Before I understood what it meant to be a sensitive child, I assumed my job as mom was to “toughen him up”. I would listen to him go from feeling happy to be overwhelmed in tears in just minutes.
When he was little, it looked like kids not sharing. Now that he’s older, he feels deeply for things that aren’t fair or when rules aren’t followed. Those feelings often show up in the form of tears and frustration in my son.
Here are a few things we’ve learned along our journey of raising a sensitive child.
Look for the Positives
Having a sensitive child is such a wonderful blessing! Our son has a big heart for all people and living creatures. His heart is so big it frequently reminds me to care for other people and animals. Whether it’s people experiencing homelessness, a new classmate at school, or endangered animals, our sensitive kid goes out of his way to look for ways to help others. Look for ways to help your sensitive child shine and use those emotions for good. I frequently tell my son, “I don’t know what life has for you ahead, but these big emotions are going to help you and others in a big way!”
Make Home a Safe Place
One thing I’ve learned about my son is that he needs to turn his emotions loose frequently. After-school car rides and end-of-the-day bedtimes have become our time for processing his day. Some nights he’s perfectly happy about his day. Other nights are long talks about hurt feelings, issues with friends, and life injustices. We notice emotions tend to be a bit more “even” during the day when he has a chance to share what he’s worried or concerned about regularly.
Look for Coping Strategies
Everyone has difficult days or challenging situations. My son’s difficult times often come at school when everything tends to “escalate” throughout the day. We talk about “triggers” and what he is feeling right before he becomes overwhelmed and the emotions take over. Finding ways to cope has been a big challenge, but we have found that removing himself from the classroom or situation has been very helpful in managing his sensitive emotions.
Whether it’s teachers, a school counselor, or professional therapists, asking for help can be such a great gift for a sensitive child—and parents! I was really struggling with listening to his challenges throughout the day and feeling like I was helpless. He would get so emotionally stressed out and I didn’t know how to help him! Whether it’s coping strategies or mindfulness exercises, the professionals in a sensitive child’s life can be a great member of the team!