The world can be a big, scary place for some children. This is especially true of children who are more easily overwhelmed by their environment than others.
Sensitive children may experience anxiety or seem withdrawn when they are faced with too many people or too much stimulation.
They might cry at the slightest frustration and become frustrated themselves if they don’t get what they want right away.
These types of behaviours can lead to problems in school and social interactions later on down the road and it is therefore important that parents are aware of how to help their child navigate an overwhelming world.
The tips below will give you some great advice on how to handle situations with your child as well as provide tools for helping them deal with the tough emotions they may be feeling.
Sensitive children often feel overwhelmed by the world around them
It’s important to find ways to help a sensitive child decompress when they come home from school or a busy day.
A long day spent exposed to sights, sounds, etc. that they are not used to can lead to a child feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Some ideas for how to help a sensitive child decompress are as follows:
- Allow them to have some down time when they get home. This could mean reading, coloring, playing quietly, or taking a nap.
- Don’t force them to talk about their day if they don’t want to. It is possible they are not ready to talk about their day yet and prefer to keep quiet.
- Encourage physical activity after coming home from school, such as running around outside or playing with friends. A good workout will help them release tension and energy that builds up during the day.
- Do something calming together as a family. This could be reading, doing puzzles, or playing a game.
Unfortunately, there is no answer-fits-all in this situation; it is a case of watching, listening and learning to try to work out how best to help them.
A lot of times, it really is just a case of taking some quiet-time-out and letting your child return to their own baseline.
They may seem to be easily distracted/have difficulty concentrating
The world can be a lot to take in for sensitive children (even for adults, at times), and so it’s hardly surprising that many of them find it difficult focusing on everyday things/tasks.
If they find themselves getting too overwhelmed, hyperactive or anxious behaviors might make an appearance at home or school.
Teachers may mention them being unfocused and having difficulty completing assignments.
Often, sensitive children are just trying their best to cope with everything going on around them and are not necessarily aware of or equipped to handle these situations.
Providing clear boundaries about how much homework they can bring home can help, as well as offering extra support when they need it (for example, giving them something relaxing to do while the other kids are doing their work).
This could be due to a number of factors, such as sensory processing disorder or ADHD
Sensitive children may struggle with the sensory input they get from their environment.
For example, they might become easily distracted by certain noises or smells and react negatively to them (by covering their ears/ eyes, for instance).
A child who is constantly moving their legs when sitting at a desk at school may be trying to 'self-soothe' because they are finding certain external stimuli hard to deal with.
Sensory processing disorder and ADHD often go hand in hand so if you think your child has one of these conditions, speak to their doctor about what steps could/should be taken.
In many cases, medication can help with hyperactivity and will give your child the ability to focus better on tasks that are given to them.
It's important for parents to understand what their child is experiencing and how they can help .
For many sensitive kids, loud noises and sudden movements can be startling and upsetting.
These types of experiences (which may not even register with other children) can trigger a wide range of emotions; fear to anger to sadness to anything in between.
The next time you spot your child displaying an emotional reaction, ask them what they were feeling before the incident happened.
Children might say that they felt scared when their little sister jumped into their bed too quickly or frustrated because their mom wouldn’t let them do something they wanted.
By becoming more conscious of what your child is experiencing at any given moment, you will be able to help them better manage these feelings over time.
Not all kids respond well to talking about difficult subjects
For some children, talking about their feelings is a huge help in managing them. For others, it could potentially have the opposite effect.
It’s important for parents to be aware of their own child’s personality and emotional needs before trying to talk about things that might be difficult for them to understand or be able to articulate their own thoughts/feelings.
If your child gives you the impression they don't want to talk, don’t force them.
Try giving them time and space to deal with what they’re feeling on their own- they will come to you when they’re ready.
Some ways that parents can help include using visuals when explaining tasks, simplifying instructions, and providing frequent breaks from activities
It’s easy to misinterpret sensitive children as being lazy, disobedient or stubborn; mostly because they may have a hard time with some of the tasks that are given to them/things that are being asked of them.
The child who refuses to pick up their toys might be overwhelmed by all the colors of the objects around him.
A child who can’t sit still at their desk for more than five minutes might not be able to focus because there are too many things going on in their immediate environment (like people walking past and talking loudly).
Even something as simple as explaining homework instructions can overwhelm a sensitive child if they don’t understand what is being asked of them.
Using visuals when explaining tasks (drawing pictures, etc.) and prioritising one thing at a time can help a child feel more in control.
Additionally, parents can provide frequent breaks from activities to help their child recharge.
Praise your child for their strengths and give them opportunities to do things that make them feel good
Your sensitive child is probably very creative and intelligent, so it’s important to praise them for their accomplishments!
When they do well in school or come up with an interesting idea, let them know how proud you are.
Giving your child opportunities to do things that make them feel good will also help boost their self-esteem.
If your child loves to sing, try signing them up for choir class or if they love animals, look into enrolling them in dog training classes.
Get to know and understand your child’s sensory needs to help them stay calm
Not all kids are sensitive to noise, but for some kids (especially those with autism or PTSD) it can be really difficult to block out certain sounds.
For example, if your child is having a hard time focusing because there is too much noise coming from the television, try turning the volume down or moving into another room where it is quieter.
The closer you can get your home to being sensory-free, the better off your kid will be!
Be patient and supportive as your child learns how to navigate the world around them
Sensitive children require a lot of patience and understanding from their parents.
It may take time for them to adjust to new environments or changes in the family structure. It’s important for parents to remain positive and supportive during this time, as it will help the child feel more secure.
With love and understanding, your sensitive child can thrive in an overwhelming world!
It’s important for parents to be patient and supportive as their child learns how to navigate the world around them.
Sensitive children require a lot of patience and understanding from their parents.
It may take time for them to adjust to new environments or changes in the family structure. With love and understanding, your sensitive child can thrive in an overwhelming world.
Just remember, every child is different and what works for one might not work for another, so be sure to experiment until you find what works best for your family.
Thank you for reading!