Highly sensitive children are naturally charming with their great ability to empathize with others that people often warm up to them easily. Creative, reflective, and perceptive, they are gifted with the talent of being able to understand life’s intricacies. Although they can give off a mature, easygoing aura, they are also highly prone to experiencing breakdowns. This can often perplex close family and loved ones who may not always know what to do. Psych2Go shares with you 5 tips for parents with highly sensitive children (HSC):
1. Love them for who they are.
It’s easy for highly sensitive children to feel misunderstood and alienated when the world can be a highly judgmental place. As a result, parents may seek advice from experts, but one common issue highly sensitive children face is misdiagnosis. Parents can be misinformed and believe that their child has ADD, bipolar disorder, or can be “fixed” with medication. It’s important to know how harmful labels can be. Parents often want to do what is “best” for their child, and sometimes, the most important, simple things can be forgotten or overlooked. Understand that high sensitivity is a biological predisposition, not a choice. Love your child for who they are and do not mold them to have “thicker skin.”
2. Be patient with them.
Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, writes, “Most HSCs seem to be poor adapters, but in reality they are being asked to adapt to too much. They are overwhelmed, or afraid of being overwhelmed, by all the new stimulation that must be processed before they can relax.” Highly sensitive children are cautious, especially when they face an unfamiliar experience. As a result, they may take more time making decisions because they process information more thoroughly. It’s important for parents to go at a pace that works for HSC.
Never pressure or make highly sensitive children feel rushed. This will only overwhelm them even more. If you catch your child unsure about what to do in a situation, be supportive and let them know that making mistakes is okay. Highly sensitive children can be self-critical and worry about the potential outcomes of their choices. As a parent, you can teach them to practice self-love and understand that they don’t have to be perfect.
3. Teach them that boundaries are healthy.
Highly sensitive children are prone to being selfless and giving. As a result, they may neglect their own needs when providing support for others. Parents should pay close attention to when their HSC feel burnt out from this and remind them that saying “no” every once in a while doesn’t make them any less of a person, but that it’s essential to sustain one’s mental health and wellbeing.
Set good examples that your child can learn to mirror, so they know how to help others without feeling the need to give their whole selves away. HSC can feel as though their self-worth relies on what they do for others. It’s important for parents to help them stand up for themselves, so they don’t get into the habit of over-extending themselves.
4. Provide predictability and routine.
Highly sensitive children prefer predictability and routine because they get easily overwhelmed by new situations. Allow them to take frequent breaks if needed during social activities. The larger the social event is, the more time your child will need to recharge. It’s common for parents of HSC to feel concerned that their kids aren’t engaging in enough activities that are supposed to be fun and fulfilling, but in reality, HSC need more quiet retreats than others to maintain balance. Be mindful of the space they require.
5. Encourage them and have heart. ♥
It’s important for parents to validate highly sensitive children and let them know that their self-doubts aren’t facts, but just destructive thoughts. HSC tend to be highly self-conscious because they worry about how their failures will affect the way you perceive them. They often attach their self-esteem to their performances. As a parent, it’s imperative that you create a safe space where risk-taking and making mistakes are welcome. Help them see that success isn’t so black and white, but that downfalls and failures are actually essential to growing into a stronger, better person. Be encouraging of their dreams and always show compassion. The last thing they need is one more person they are afraid of letting down.
Are you a highly sensitive person with parents who have trouble understanding you? What are some challenges you go through? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
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If you enjoyed this article, then you may also like 8 Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) or 7 Ways An Introvert Can Help Their Extroverted Parents Understand Introversion from Psych2Go.
Daisy, G. (2018). Advice for Parents of Highly Sensitive Children. Quiet Revolution. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
Wilson, C. (2017). Understanding Highly Sensitive Children. Focus on the Family. Retrieved February 13, 2018.