Emotionally Sensitive Children: How to Value Feelings

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I guess you could say that all children are sensitive, but mothers with children who are emotionally super sensitive, know that it is something quite different. There are even websites dedicated to parenting emotionally intense children.

tantrum, sad kid

photo by LelandsMommy

My 5 year old is one of those kids. It's like his sensory perception of emotions--anger, hurt, fear, sadness--is especially high. Even though he is growing out of being a crybaby in the classic, "I want my mommy!" sense, he often still feels slighted and hurt at times when that was definitely no one's intention. Just a tone in someone's voice is all it takes. When this happens during a conversation at home, he sharply turns his head away from everyone and then sucks in his bottom lip in an effort to hold the tears back. My husband and I can tell that sometimes he knows that crying may be an overreaction, yet he can't seem to help himself. When he feels emotional at school (at some point everyday) he tries to "disappear" by just checking out.

Not too long ago I overheard my son's teacher talking to another little girl, whom to me, seems to have never really adjusted to kindergarten life. On that morning, the child was silently crying and she looked pitiful, really heart-broken.

"What's wrong, sweetie?" the teacher asked. It was the girl's answer that got my attention: "I'm not really sure," she said. (Well, I've been there myself.) That's when the teacher said something that made me love her: " Well, just go ahead and get your feelings out."

Get your feelings out. When inessama asked if there were other mothers who had emotionally sensitive children, many moms talked about coping with the realness of this "condition."  Like the teacher knew, valuing and validating their feelings is frustrating sometimes but very necessary. One mother samurai_chica offered her story--and what she does to help her daughter manage her intense feelings. As a mom who copes with this issue at home, I thought her sage advice was really worth sharing:

My daughter is this way, but is improving. This can be difficult, because those feelings are REAL. Some people just have very sensitive feelings. So, it can be irritating when she cries over something small, but at the same time I don't want to get irritated at her again because those feelings are real & you don't want to undermine them. What I do is try to help her examine where those strong feelings are coming from. For instance, yesterday stepdad snuck up on her & popped a balloon behind her to startle her. Usually she may laugh, but was heart broken that he popped her balloon (even though we had a whole bag). Of course, tears were coming down. I sat with her & asked her why it upset her, she explained that it was hard work to blow the balloon by herself. So I told her I understood, she worked at something & it got ruined.

Sometimes, kids feel things & they're not exactly sure why (adults do this too) it can really help if you take a little time to try to help break down their emotions & figure out the who/what/why their feelings are hurt. You'll notice by the end of your talk, she is no longer upset. It also helps them figure out their own emotions, & can help w/ith problems in the future. Well, it helps with my daughter. Whatever you do, don't get irritated about her strong emotions. Really, it's a beautiful thing to feel so strongly, to love, laugh, & cry so strong is beautiful. Don't make her hide how she feels, just help her explore her feelings. She will be able to sort them out herself if she can get a lil help figuring them out. Be patient, because if your not, she may feel like she is misunderstood & that's a terrible feeling for a child.

Do you have an emotionally sensitive school-aged child? How do you help her cope with her feelings?

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