Written by Liza John
Every child has a unique feature that makes them a brilliant addition to this world. Some children are highly creative while others are cheerful and some may be quick to have an emotional response. A highly sensitive child is someone who perceives everything at a deeper level than others and responds strongly to it. While this may lead to quite a few tantrums, screaming, crying, and yelling, highly sensitive children are also equally empathic, kind, and helpful most of the time.
If you are wondering why some children are more sensitive than others, the answer is that some individuals have their nervous system attuned to being more receptive to stimuli than others. So certain sounds, textures, events, or even tastes can send a highly sensitive child spiralling into a meltdown.
Signs Of a Sensitive Toddler
The foremost thing you notice about highly sensitive children is that they respond so strongly to situations that might as well be irrelevant to others of the same age. This means that a bit of spilt milk can bring on tears, or not finding a favourite sweater can send the contents of the cupboard flying across the room.
Apart from this side of their behaviour, highly sensitive children are prone to feeling lonely. At the same time, they also wish for downtime frequently. They have deep thoughts and incessant questions that can both amuse and frustrate adults. Highly sensitive children have an affinity towards animals and have lots of empathy. Most of the time, highly sensitive children only have strong emotional reactions when they are overstimulated.
Prepping A Sensitive Toddler for The World
Parenting is no cakewalk for anyone. Adding a highly sensitive toddler to the equation can make things a little tricky for the parents. With dedication and determination, parents can tackle the negative effects brought on by the toddler being highly sensitive.
Word of advice, lots of patience is the best way to approach any form of parenting, especially with a sensitive toddler.
Here are a few tips to equip your sensitive toddler to deal with an overwhelming world:
Accept The Sensitivity
Most of the time, parents are tempted to apologise for their sensitive child’s responses in a public setting. While you may have to smooth over things if your toddler has caused some damage, never apologise for their emotion. This tells your toddler that emotional expression is something to be ashamed about or to feel guilty about.
Practice a concept of no shaming when it comes to emotions. Conveying a message to your children that emotional expression is bad can encourage them to repress their feelings, which has repercussions further down the lane.
Children always need some structure in their life, and discipline is one way to provide it. However, when it comes to sensitive children, parents overlook certain things to avoid an episode. While it may provide a temporary escape for you and your child, this practice can set your toddler in their rigid ways. To make your sensitive toddler more flexible and open, convey to them that their actions have consequences.
For instance, if a toddler screams for not being given a chance at a game first, let them know that it is a fair game and everyone will get a chance. Follow this by ignoring the child if they keep screaming and praising them for waiting patiently if they stop making a scene.
Sensitive toddlers act impulsively when they become emotional. The best way to prevent rash actions in such situations is to teach them to determine what they are feeling. If the toddler can say that they are feeling sad because the mother is being attentive towards the new baby or if they feel irritated by the seams of their socks, they can take the next step to deal with these emotions in an acceptable way.
Too much excitement can cause a sensitive toddler’s emotions to erupt at a random point in the day. As a parent, what you need to do is to provide enough downtime or ‘me time’ for sensitive kids. For instance, if the toddler has just returned from a play date or a day-care, give them some time to recuperate. Let them take a nap to recharge before you approach them with anything.
Having the ability to feel things at a deeper level can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, your child can experience rich emotions and connect with people whereas, on the other hand, they get easily distressed and overstimulated. As you coach your sensitive child to deal with the world, let them problem-solve their own issues. Doing everything for them is not going to have the desired results. Give your sensitive child a way to manage their emotions and nothing can stop them.