We are all born as emotional beings. As we grow we learn to understand our emotions and are able to articulate and manage them.
For many children however, this is not the case. These children are highly sensitive to emotions and as they grow older will often struggle with being able to articulate how they are feeling and often feel overwhelmed in crowds and in situations they are not used to. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the child, it just mean they are very sensitive and need to have your understanding, empathy and support to learn to manage their emotions.
To give your emotional child the best support possible, we have put together 5 tools to help you manage their behaviour:
Yes, that sounds easier than it is for a parent but it is one of the most beneficial tools in your arsenal. If you can learn to not react negatively to your child’s emotions but to let them know you understand how they are feeling, it will go a long way to them remaining calm or learning to accept that they simply feel things a lot more than others. For e.g. when an emotionally sensitive child hurts themselves they will feel it a lot more than most children. Telling them to “suck it up” or “just get over it” will only make the situation worse, not better because they will interpret it that you either don’t care or they are in trouble for having these feelings.
Empower your child.
Emotions often stem from a lack of understanding of a situation. Make sure your child is well informed (at an age appropriate level) of to what expect in a specific situation for e.g. when starting school or preschool, when going to the dentist or doctor. Let them know of the process so they are fully informed and not surprised by things they didn’t know were going to happen. Trying to hide the facts will only make it worse in the long run as they will build up a fear towards the situation rather than accepting it at face value.
Accept your child.
Don’t try to change your child. Don’t compare them to siblings or other children. Every child is unique and it is that uniqueness that will see them go far in the world. To berate them, chastise them or be ashamed of them because they are highly sensitive, will only create a situation where they feel ostracised and unable to express their deepest emotions.
Make others aware.
If you have a child that is emotionally sensitive then make sure those that are around them understand the strategies for helping them cope. Talk to their teachers, carers etc. and let them know how you handle the issue at home and how you would like to have it handled by them. The more understanding your child receives from those around them the less ostracised they will feel.
Encourage a healthy diet.
This is a major one for emotionally sensitive children and especially with regards to sugar in their diet. Sugar has been proven to alter the emotional state of mind so a child that is eating a sugar laden diet is going to be continuously swinging from low to high moods which will make learning to manage their emotional sensitivity even harder. Balance their diet and keep sugar to a minimum so that they have the best chance possible of learning to understand their emotions.
Ultimately, your child needs to be loved and understood not berated and ostracised. As they grow and understand their emotions and how to deal with them things will become a little easier both for them and you.