If you’re raising a highly sensitive child, you know that your kid interacts with his or her world in a unique way. It can also be a challenge, leaving many moms and dads searching for highly sensitive child parenting strategies – especially if it feels like your son or daughter is very different from you.
Fortunately, however, there are ways to nurture sensitive children, striking a balance of both honoring their needs and setting them up for success in life.
Here, discover eight highly sensitive child parenting strategies.
They’ll help you help your child – and better understand the needs of highly sensitive people, too.
1. Show respect
To them, it really does matter if mashed potatoes touch the broccoli on their plate. Allow opinions, but teach your child to be polite in expressing them to you and others.
Listen sincerely and help your child gain skills to manage her feelings.
2. Don’t look for a cure
Sensitivity is not a disorder. Yet knowing it exists can explain behaviors and make them easier for everyone to deal with.
3. Stop pushing
Don’t just tell her to “toughen up” and deal with things that push her over the edge, like joining a competitive team or visiting noisy places.
Instead, listen to her interests and give strategies to excel in the things she loves.
4. Mind yourself
HSCs, as they’re called for short, are more sensitive to your moods and cues – and can be more impacted by instability in the home.
They can also be highly attuned to your own anxiety and labels you give them, so be aware of the messages you send.
5. Leave them in good hands
When a parent can’t be around, be sure to leave your HSC with trusted caregivers – as they can be more sensitive to separation anxiety, perceived dangers and non-attentive adults.
6. Find your fit
Let your expectations go and meet your kids where they thrive.
“There is always a good fit when parents accept their children for who they are, then adapt their methods to suit the child,” says Dr. Elaine Aron, an author and psychotherapist based in Mill Valley, California.
7. Monitor meltdowns
Does your child act fine all day but crumble as soon as he gets home? Some HSCs, being sensitive to others’ expectations of them, will behave at school and in public but let loose once they’re back in their safe zone.
8. Stop worrying
Your HSC will grow into a highly sensitive person, who will likely find fulfillment in a career like academia, medicine, science and the arts.
He will be empathetic and caring toward others and feel emotions – including happiness, joy and contentment – more fully that non-HSPs can conceive.
This post was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.