Discipline Strategies for Highly Sensitive Children

Highly sensitive children feel things more deeply than others. That's why disciplining them can be a challenge.
Discipline Strategies for Highly Sensitive Children

Last update: 04 June, 2020

Disciplining children has never been easy, but for parents of highly sensitive children it can be especially challenging. It’s important for parents to be aware of some tips to successfully discipline their children, even if they’re highly sensitive and emotional.

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet and everyone who’s had the privilege of being a parent is a truly fortunate person. However, it isn’t always easy. It’s often the case that the most rewarding jobs come with hard work.

It’s through this hard work that we can grow and mature as parents and individuals. From time to time, we’ll be rewarded with experiences that stop us in our tracks, tug at our heartstrings, and assure us that we’re doing well!

However, bringing up highly sensitive or highly emotional children can be a great challenge for parents, and that’s what we’re going to look at today.

Characteristics of highly sensitive children

A highly sensitive child is one who’s very aware and reacts quickly to situations. They feel things on a deeper level to others. They’re usually incredibly empathetic and perceptive about their environment and surroundings, and how they move through life.

Discipline Strategies for Highly Sensitive Children

When a highly sensitive child gets frustrated with something that they’re doing, you need to try to reassure them that it’s okay to feel that way. Encourage them and tell them that they can try again when they’re feeling a little better. This probably wouldn’t work well for a child who isn’t very sensitive.

Now that we’ve understood some of a highly sensitive child’s behavior patterns, we need to ask how parents should and teach and discipline their children? We’ll discuss this in more detail below.

Disciplining highly sensitive children

Firstly, it should be noted that being highly sensitive is not a disability or a syndrome, but a personality trait. Being highly sensitive is, in fact, a wonderful personality trait, once a child and their parents understand how to deal with things better and look after their deep emotions and feelings.

Rule out defensiveness

As parents, we must be aware of our own feelings. Because our children are individual beings with their own thoughts, feelings, and reactions, they’ll often get quite angry about the choices we make. Don’t worry, this is fine.

So, as parents, we must be aware of this individuality and validate their feelings. In doing so, it is important not to get defensive and be invaded by our own emotions at this time.

Demonstrate empathy

When your child is upset and has a temper tantrum, it’s important to show empathy and understanding with words to calm them down. This is much better than just walking away and ignoring them. When you walk away from your child, you can easily send them the message that they aren’t accepted. We need to warmly acknowledge how they feel and give them a chance to express their feelings.

Discipline Strategies for Highly Sensitive Children

Say with warmth and sincerity, “I can see that you’re angry with me, and I really want to listen to you. Tell me about the anger you’re feeling.” If you do this with empathy then you’ll soon see good results.

For example, with a three-year-old, you could say, “Mommy can see that you’re disappointed. You want more playtime, and now it’s time for your bath. You got mad at Mommy. It’s hard to stop when you want more.”

By being there for our children emotionally and physically, we’re creating strong bonds with our children. By doing so, they’ll learn to trust us, even in their most difficult moments.

Managing discipline

Once the communication and emotional support have taken place, it’s important to establish limits and move on. This follow-up will show your child consistent behavior that he or she can trust you. We need to be able to sincerely support our children knowing that they can manage their emotions.

When we’re telling them about the consequences of their actions, we can’t do this in a vacuum. We need to explain things carefully. They need to understand what they’ve done, what the consequences are, and to learn from it.

You too can be an open and communicative parent for your children! You can tell them that you have the difficult job of having to say no. Explain that it’s difficult for you to say no because we know it annoys them. And follow that up by explaining that it’s your job to keep them safe and to help them learn.

By following all these steps, we’re sure that your relationship with your child will grow stronger and stronger.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.