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You may have a sensitive child, or perhaps you are a sensitive adult. Handling challenging and overwhelming emotions can be tricky. Social worker and author of Not Too Far From My Back Door, Tania Louise Smith is here to offer all of us – parents, educators, and sensitive people – some valuable tips for dealing with deep feelings that sometimes, frankly, explode. We need this! Thank you, Tania! 🙂
It’s ok to be sensitive. Helpful Points to Raising a Sensitive Chid.
For many parents who are of not the highly sensitive type, raising a highly sensitive child seems foreign, hard work and may leave you wondering, ‘how will we ever get through this?’ But I assure you, you will get through this, but what’s better than just getting “through this” is being able to nurture and embrace your sensitive child so that they wear their sensitivity as a badge of honour. But how, you wonder, as you are already juggling fifty million balls in the air and can’t possibly think of adding another ball to your juggle. In fact, a few simple things will ease and comfort not only the sensitive child but the whole harmony of the household.
Seems simple but often children just want someone to witness their deep feelings and emotions. They want to download them in a safe space. When we are in parent mode we do often want to fix things for our children, but the mere act of allowing your child to verbalise their emotional battles, allows them to become consciously aware of them and to process and work through them. Knowing that a loving adult heard them and will listen, will make trudging through the wilderness of their feelings seem more manageable and less explosive. I know it’s super hard as a parent not to “lose it” when your little or big one is in tears over what seems to you like the littlest thing, but simply holding space for their emotions in allowing them to express them, is hugely important.
2. Do not begrudge their feelings.
Sensitive children can sense your ‘fed up’ feelings with them without you saying a word. They are highly observational, taking on the tone of the energy in which you approach them. Try to come to them with a neutral energy of neither judging or condemning. It’s easier said than done, but if we as adults can take a few deep breaths before we approach our children to minimise and ease a little of our own frustrations, we will not then pass on these frustrations to our children who are looking to you for comfort and grace.
3. No name calling or judgements.
It may seem obvious but even the most subtle comments can linger in a sensitive child’s brain for a very long time and even into adulthood. Comments like, “you are too sensitive” or “whinger” or “are you seriously crying over that?” can seem like a fleeting comment from a parent’s perspective but leaves a child thinking there is something awfully different and wrong with them.
4. Empathy is what all humans want.
Simple comments like, “ I am sorry you feel this way “, “I am so sorry that happened to you”, “that isn’t fair, is it?”, “How awful for you” . Showing and expressing empathy to your child, especially your super sensitive child, will leave them feeling they have you in their corner and you have not only listened but heard them.
If we want our child to be a more consciously aware person with regards to their emotions and feelings, we must try to be a role model in this area. Parenting is a super hard gig, but if you approach it with these points in mind and from the perspective of being on your child’s team and not their opposition, things can be less turbulent as you feel your way through their hurdles together.
Article by Tania Louise Smith.
*You might also remember this insightful piece Tania wrote for us on how her book, Not Too Far From My Back Door, acts as a resource for building on a child’s toolkit for coping strategies in times of trauma and adversity. Read Author Tania Louise Smith on Nurturing Children’s Health.
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