My youngest daughter is quite emotional. She really feels her feelings, if you know what I mean. At the end of the school year she told me she plans on crying when she comes home because she’s going to be sad after saying goodbye to her friends for the summer.
I don’t know what makes a child sensitive. Why is my elder daughter more stoic and reserved with her emotions, while my younger shares her every feeling? What I do know is that it means they both need different parenting styles.
Every child is unique, and every family has to learn what works for them. I’ve gathered some wisdom from families who also have sensitive children, in hopes you’ll find a strategy or two to help you manage your own sensitive children.
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Parenting tips from moms of sensitive children
I reached out to my online friends and followers. I found some moms eager to share their experiences with me:
Sarah in YGK
Elaine Aron has a book “The Highly Sensitive Person” and another “The Highly Sensitive Child” which may be worth taking a look at. ~ Sarah in YGK
Natalie, a working mom (Marketing Consultant) from the UK
My 6 year old is very sensitive. He’s sensitive to sad or emotional music, or scenes in a film. He is also an emotionally intelligent child and picks up on things other children his age simply do not. This impacts him at school when he is more emotionally invested in something than others, and fails to understand why they don’t feel the same. It can also make him a target at times.
We’ve taught him a few coping mechanisms, breathing exercises, how to successfully remove himself from situations which affect him and to regularly discuss how he feels. He is also a member of a Stage School as he is fantastic at drama and singing. We feel his success in this is a result of his heightened emotions, and we hope he can learn to tap into those to further develop his skills in this area.
Related: Why Emotional Intelligence is important for children
Kristen from Hello Minder
My 5 yr old is super sensitive. We got several “my emotions” books that we read together. My daughter is able to pick out how she’s feeling. I also taught her some calming exercises like counting to 5 or taking a few deep breaths and then talking.
Favourite Book: The Way I Feel
Danielle from Snatched Words
Parenting my 4 year old daughter is like parenting a mini-version of myself. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I understand where her sensitivity and emotions come from. I understand why her mood can dramatically change at the drop of a hat and that there’s usually something whirring around her brain that isn’t immediately obvious to onlookers (including myself).
I try very hard to be patient when those emotions burst out of her as tears and tantrums. And many, many times I’m able to bring her into my calm and the storm passes. They’re not the times I remember though.
The times that stick with me the most are the ones where the emotions burst out of me as well. She brings me into her storm. I snap at her to calm down and be quiet, and I hate myself for it. Usually I snap under circumstances that are understandable, when the weight of a hundred little things over the day have taken their toll, but I feel guilty nonetheless.
The curse here is that it’s often characteristics I don’t like in myself that I’m seeing in her that make me snap the quickest. I’m working on keeping my cool better. Until then I will continue to apologize, and explain myself, when I lose my patience, in the hope that my daughter will grow to be more patient than I am
Do you have a story to share, as a mom of sensitive children?
I see a trend in what these parents have shared. Using your own patience, and some deep breathing techniques (for your child, and for you) can help when your sensitive child is reacting strongly to a situation.
Modelling behaviour you would like to see from your child is also an excellent way to help them understand how to react in certain situations. If you lose your cool (which we all do at times) they may think this is an appropriate reaction in that moment. In that circumstance, an apology and and explanation of how you were feeling and why you acted the way you did will help your child develop healthier ways of navigating their emotions. When they next lose their temper, perhaps they will remember to apologize or find the words to explain their feelings to you that will help you understand why they were having a strong reaction in the first place.
If your child is quite young, books about emotions and situations can help them find words to express what they are feeling. Often the inability to share their feelings leads to more frustrations, and picture books can help immensely.
I would love to add your own tips. Do have a suggestion or routine that helps you manage your sensitive child? More tips from moms of sensitive children may be found below, in the comments.