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Parenting and Helping a Sensitive Child

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Every child gets whiny and demanding at times.  However, some children are highly sensitive by their temperament.  They often show strong reactions to things they don’t like or aren’t familiar with.  For these children, many days have demanding moments.  It takes them a lot longer to feel comfortable with new things.  Let’s take a quick look at a few things that will make their adjustment easier.

Empathy and Understanding

Whether you are a parent of a sensitive child or you are working with them for a short while, be sure you understand that their sensitivity is part of their temperament.  Temperament is a relatively stable set of
traits that make up someone’s personality.  They are likely to have these sensitivities all of their life, though they can certainly develop effective ways to manage them.

Empathy and understanding are vital for helping a sensitive child.  They need to know that you understand their fears and uncertainties.  These feelings are very real for a sensitive child, and brushing them off will
put up a huge barrier between you.

When someone knows that you have really heard and understood them, they are much more likely to follow your leadership.  This is very true for a sensitive child.  They will trust you much more when they feel you understand their concerns accurately and with acceptance.

Provide Structure

Another piece to the puzzle is providing structure for the child.  Just focusing on emotions is not enough.  Sensitive children do best when they can predict their environment and know the expectations clearly.
After a while, the new environment doesn’t hold as many surprises and they can eventually let their guard down.

Whenever possible, introduce sensitive children to their new environment or activity at regular intervals.  They need more exposure time to adjust to the situation and have a sense of curiosity draw them into it.  Obviously, this isn’t always possible.  But as they learn how to adjust in one area of their life, they can build on those skills as they grow older.

Tomorrow’s post offers two more important elements of parenting or working with sensitive children.  As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  They always seems to add so much for everyone reading the original post, including myself.  I hope you’ll check back tomorrow.

Parenting and Helping a Sensitive Child

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Parenting and Helping a Sensitive Child. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 7, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jun 2009
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