Parenting a Sensitive Child


When I was growing up, I heard countless times that I was overly sensitive. Various people would tell me to “stop being so sensitive” and “just get over it.” As a result, I attributed being sensitive as a bad quality. It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned sensitivity is actually a really good character trait.

Sensitive people are often known for being highly observant, intuitive, thoughtful, compassionate, empathetic, conscientious, loyal, and creative. With all of these wonderful attributes, what is the problem with being so sensitive? Sensitivity can be misunderstood as being weak, not standing up for yourself, or being vulnerable.

I’ve learned over the years that a person’s greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. I find it interesting that the very thing we excel in can also cause us to stumble.

Now that I am a parent, I can identify different sensitivity levels in each of my children. I am empathetic to their sensitivity. I’m careful in the language I use with them, as I don’t want to pass along the misconceptions I grew up having associated with this wonderful character trait.

When my children are overwhelmed, and in tears, I will sit with them and let them cry. When the time is right, I will offer a hug or initiate a conversation about their feelings. I believe it’s especially important for my son to know that crying is a really good thing. We need to release our feelings of sadness, anger, and anxiety in a healthy, natural way. It can be difficult for young children (and, let’s face it, adults too) to know how to express these feelings. The more we can work on it and communicate with one another, the easier it becomes.

Photo Credit: Forty Seven Moments Photography

Listening To Our Children

Knowing when to listen is key but not necessarily intuitive. This is a learned skill that takes time and intentionality. In an age with all the latest and greatest technology at our fingertips, we are behind the eight ball in this area. It is imperative that we as parents actively listen to our children and not just with our ears but with our actions.

Here are some ways you can put this into practice:

  1. Give your full attention to your child.
  2. Make eye contact and stop other things you are doing.
  3. Get down on your child’s level (kneel down or sit across from them).
  4. Reflect or repeat back what they are saying and what they may be feeling to make sure you understand.

I believe that starting small and committing to one little change at a time is more impactful than trying to take it on all at once. Start with five minutes this week; next week, bump it up to 6 or 10. It’s more important to remain consistent with a little rather than trying to fix it all at once and creating unrealistic expectations. The more we put listening to our sensitive child into practice, the greater progress we will make!


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