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:
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.