How to Parent a Highly Sensitive Child

How to Parent a Highly Sensitive Child

Does your child become overwhelmed from loud, noisy situations? Are they overly perceptive, able to pick out details you’ve never noticed before? If so, they may be highly sensitive. But what exactly does this mean, and how should you change your parenting style to accommodate? Read on to learn more:

What is a highly sensitive person?

Coined by psychiatrist Elaine Aron, a highly sensitive person (HSP) is someone who is more sensitive and reactive to physical, emotional, and social stimuli. Their nervous system is highly aware and quick to react.

But how does this play out in day-to-day life?

For most of us, our brains intuitively pick and choose what details and subtleties we pay attention to, and which ones we don’t. HSPs, however, take in everything. They can notice those details and subtle changes that most of us overlook. This can make them extremely perceptive, and it can certainly act to their advantage. Nevertheless, by taking in so much information at once, HSPs go through information overload, quickly becoming overwhelmed by external stimuli.

Parenting a highly sensitive child

According to Aron, high sensitivity is an inborn temperament, found in 20% of children (to see if your child is an HSP, you can take Aron’s test here). While this trait has a number of advantages, it does require a different parenting style than for non-HSPs. Here’s what you can do:

  • See it as an advantage, not a disadvantage: Some parents may see their child’s sensitivity as a negative trait, but they shouldn’t. Being a highly sensitive child means that your child has a greater level of emotional awareness, empathy, innovativeness, attention to detail, and more.
  • Understand their triggers: Highly sensitive children are, as the name suggests, more sensitive to external stimuli. When they become overwhelmed, they can have temper tantrums, outbursts, and more. Understanding their triggers can help you avoid these incidents.
  • Be accommodating: Exposing your child to their triggers will not help them “get over” their sensitivity. High sensitivity is an inborn trait, and nothing will change that. Instead, help them cope in highly stimulating environments. For instance, give them a pair of headphones to block out loud noises, or a stuffed animal to keep them calm.

At Steadfast Academy, we accommodate all children, no matter their needs. To learn more, contact us today.