All of our children are sensitive in their own way however Zeke is our Canary.
In an article on Motherly called “What Sensitive Boys Need From Their Mamas” by Rebecca Eanes she writes:
Sensitive children are the canaries and the world our coal mine. They can tell us when the conditions are all wrong, when there is danger and injustice. They warn us that the world is too harsh while simultaneously softening it with their presence. They are candles lighting the darkness, and if we look toward them, once our eyes adjust to the light, we will see the turmoil and the hope.
This quote brought me to tears and had me nodding “yes, yes this is my son.”
Zeke is the emotional thermostat for our family and when he has a hard time adjusting to life or family living it’s usually a signal for us to go inward and see how we can calm our own anxiety in order to calm his.
I posted this on Instagram last night and it struck a cord.
I talked openly about his sleep struggles and need for our arms around him at times instead of another sleep intervention. The response and comments were moving and I myself felt less alone in raising a highly sensitive child. So if need more support in the area check the post out HERE.
According to “The Highly Sensitive Person” website, a highly sensitive child is…
one of the fifteen to twenty percent of children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. This makes them quick to grasp subtle changes, prefer to reflect deeply before acting, and generally behave conscientiously. They are also easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation, sudden changes, and the emotional distress of others. Because children are a blend of a number of temperament traits, some HSCs are fairly difficult–active, emotionally intense, demanding, and persistent–while others are calm, turned inward, and almost too easy to raise except when they are expected to join a group of children they do not know. But outspoken and fussy or reserved and obedient, all HSCs are sensitive to their emotional and physical environment.
Here are my top tips and resources for raising a sensitive child:
- Encourage them feel their emotions while you manage your own. Their emotions are not your emotions. You can be the CEO for them that leads them through their inner turmoil while validating how they feel.
- Create a calming kit this items they love like squishy toys, play do and anything that is soothing to touch, read or listen to. I learned this from Positive Parenting Coach Wendy Snyder of Fresh Start Family.
- Create boundaries with them so they understand they don’t have to run the show but be flexible enough to meet them where they’re at.
- Do your own work around anxiety and fear!
- Move out their fear, anxiety and stress physically. Play music and dance through their feelings in order to move it out of the body.
- Play. I’m not always the most playful mom but when I notice my children being aggressive or angry I allow them to show this display in play. For example our son Zeke is very afraid of going to the doctors and in the past has had to have some scary tests and X-rays the would frighten any child. He still talks about those “bad doctors” that had to hold him down. Instead of trying to tell him how the doctors where trying to help him I let him find a toy that represents the doctors that held him down for his X-ray and he pretended to wheel HotWheels cars at them knocking them into the bath. Now I’m not promoting physical violence towards healthcare professionals ha ha but this exercise for a 4 year old provided a reprieve for us both and helped him release a lot of pent up anxiety.
Fresh Start Family Workshop and Podcast
Unruffled Podcast by Janet Lansbury: Check this episode called “What To Do With Your Clingy Child”
The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shafali
Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life by Stuart Dr. Shanker
Bed Time Tips:
Keep The Same Routine: shoot for the same routine like bath-book-bed.
Utilize an Ice Pack or Weighted Blanket: One of our kids runs hot at night so we put a frozen ice pack in a canvas bag for him to cuddle and one of our kids runs cold so he sleeps with a weighted blanket from BlanQuil and loves it.
Play a Mediation: The Head Space App has some great sleepcast stories or you can play soothing music or an audiobook on Audible.
Use lotions and oils that have a calming effect like lavender.
Diffuse oils in a diffuser that lights up or use a night light that promotes sleep like an amber night light.
Bad dream busters spray: We use this spray because it not only smells amazing it has a calming scent that promotes sleep and our kids think that it really busts the bad dreams!
These are some of the things that have helped up sooth our sensitive children. I hope you feel less a lone in raising your little canary and know how beautiful and needed these children are.
With hope & healing,