Discipline for the Highly Sensitive Child

Highly Sensitive Children (or HSCs) seem to internalize everything.  Even a look or one word from a parent to warn the child when they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing may stop the HSC, because they want to do the “right” thing.  However, this doesn’t mean that discipline is not needed.  Just like every child, it’s important that HSCs have clear boundaries and standards that are expressed clearly to them by parents.  It’s helpful for rules to be set and gently expressed to the HSC.  Parents can discuss the rules with their child (depending on the age of the child) and make the rules together.  Consider making a rule chart with your child like the one below:

house rules

When HSCs have tantrums, it’s usually because they are overwhelmed with the situation or their surroundings.  Hold off on disciplining them until you can get them to calm down.  If the child is not acting up to your standards, make sure you discuss it with them later, letting them know it’s not acceptable and telling them why.  Shame can be a problem for HSCs, more so than with other children, because they can tell when they have disappointed someone with their words or actions.  So, make sure you don’t use guilt or shame to discipline your child, even in subtle ways.  Instead,  talk with them about why they have acted the way that they did.  Explain to them in a clear, simple way why the behavior is inappropriate.  “We don’t hit anyone because we may hurt them.  We don’t want other people to fear us or think we want to hurt them.”  When your child talks to you, really listen to them.  Crouch down to their level, and look them in the eyes.  HSCs need to feel heard, so make time for them, even if you may feel frustrated by their behavior at times.

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Sensitivity in Children

I am currently reading a book called “The Highly Sensitive Child” by Dr. Elaine Aron, and I’m hooked.

According to Aron, sensitivity is a genetic trait that is present in approximately 20% of all children.  This trait has survived evolution for a reason. In other words, we NEED this trait to survive in order for our society to improve.  In our crazy, fast-paced, digital world,  nonsensitives have been thriving because they can handle it.  They can handle stressful work environments, unreasonable deadlines, and overstimulation.  HSPs, on the other hand, are being pushed to the sidelines because we are more thoughtful, we don’t make decision as quickly because we marinate on the questions longer, and we need a calmer work environment.

In reality, both sensitive and nonsensitive people are needed in every profession.  So, it’s essential that, those who have sensitive children, understand how their brains work.  It’s so important that sensitive children grow up feeling confident and loved, so they can spread their gifts to the world when they grow up.  The world needs more sensitivity in order to balance out the insensitivity that dominates.

Sensitive children tend to have more tantrums than nonsensitive children.  That’s because they feel so much–they need an outlet to release their emotions.  Here is a tool that can be used with sensitive children (or any children, really) who become worked up.  It’s called a calming jar. When a child becomes too worked up and emotional to function, squat down to their level and talk to them in a calm voice.  Tell them that they’re going to take a break.  Tell them to breathe deeply, and practice taking deep breaths with them.  When you feel they’re calmed down a bit, give them the calming jar, and let them sit and shake the jar.  Watching the colored liquid and glitter will calm them down.

Here is another link to an anti-anxiety kit for kids.  This is brilliant and could be used for any age.

Check back later this week for more tips!

Happy New Year!!

2015 is a year of action!

Growing up, I always felt different.  Too deep.  Too emotional.  Too weak.  For many years, I let others make me feel ashamed of my sensitive nature.  People were constantly telling me “Don’t be so sensitive” or “Lighten up,” but sensitivity is such a deep part of me that I heard it as “Who you are is wrong” because I knew that it would be impossible for me to become less sensitive.  When I found out about the highly sensitive temperament, it changed my view of the world and myself.  Now, I know I’m not “too anything.”  I’m just me.  Even though our society is a little behind on this, I see sensitivity as my greatest attribute.  Instead of spreading war, violence, and negativity, HSPs spread love, compassion, empathy, and kindness.  We need to hear their voices in the world.

It’s important that HSPs stop hiding their unique trait and start shining!  This year, let’s start showing our strength!

Ghandi said it best: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

Do you sense important and exciting changes for 2015?  If so, please share them below.