How To Handle Highly Sensitive Kids

Do you notice that your kid had a bigger reaction to things than the other kids do? Does your kid scream and cry over EVERYTHING? 

It's very possible that you have a "highly sensitive child". This is so common that it is actually a coined term by child psychologists. Highly sensitive children are wired to experience their feelings and experiences more deeply. They're not overreacting because they are being bad, they are just wired differently.

These kids are amazing, but also exhausting. Their oversized reactions can be extremely triggering for parents to understand and manage.

Here are a few traits to look out for that indicate your kid is "highly sensitive":

  1. They have more meltdowns. Because of their sensitivity, HS children are triggered to experience stress faster. They get overwhelmed by their big emotions and oversized reactions to sensory input which naturally results in more frequent and intense meltdowns.
  2. They are tuned in to everyone and everything. HS children are “processors.” Their brains never turn off. They focus on and analyze everything. They will notice if you are talking to your girl in a slightly different tone and MAKE SURE you stop and go back to normal.
  3. They have a more intense need for control and can be rigid and inflexible. To try to gain control of a world that can feel overwhelming, HS kids come up with fixed ideas and expectations about how things should be to make daily life more manageable. They WILL control what they are wearing that day, and possibly even what you are wearing. Hopefully they like your FlyDad hat!!
  4. HS children are wired to register their feelings and experiences in the world more deeply than other children. Screaming is a normal for them and phrases like "I NEVER get to play!!" are a regular occurence.

So how do you deal??

Basically, you handle every conflict with your child with the underlying understanding that they are wired differently. They are not screaming because they are being bad or they are overtired, they just process things differently.

You don't punish them for their emotions, you give them new outlets to express their emotions. If they scream, let them know it's ok to be frustrated.  Teach them there is a time and a place for expressing their frustration. Let them know you will be with them to work through their emotions and help them navigate.

For instance, if the tantrum is in the home, designate a room for the tantrum. If it's at the grocery store, let them know if they are going to scream we have to go home where it's appropriate.

Having a HS child is no easy feat and it can drive any parent insane. But the more information you are armed with the easier it gets!