5-6 YEARS OLD You don’t have to mol­ly­cod­dle your sen­si­tive child. In­stead, help him cope bet­ter with th­ese tips.

If your preschooler cries at the drop of a hat, he may be highly sen­si­tive. DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON of­fers strate­gies to man­age your kid with­out mol­ly­cod­dling him.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

It’s amaz­ing how some chil­dren cope eas­ily with the rough-and-tum­ble of life, im­mune to teas­ing from oth­ers, re­sis­tant to up­sets, and able to main­tain a high level of self-con­fi­dence even in the face of mi­nor fail­ures.

Oth­ers, how­ever, are highly sen­si­tive and seem to crum­ble emo­tion­ally the minute some­thing goes wrong. If your six-year-old is like that, con­sider the fol­low­ing sug­ges­tions:

Learn from ex­pe­ri­ence

En­cour­age your child to think about pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents which have up­set him and sug­gest other ways he could have re­sponded.

For in­stance, in­stead of cry­ing be­cause an­other kid made a rude re­mark about his run­ning abil­ity, he could sim­ply say: “I think I run well.”

Lis­ten with­out ridicule

You are prob­a­bly fed up hear­ing once again that, for ex­am­ple, he is afraid of go­ing to the party. Re­sist any temp­ta­tion to ridicule him, no mat­ter how triv­ial his re­ac­tion might ap­pear.

In­stead, lis­ten and then of­fer an al­ter­na­tive way that he could man­age the ex­pe­ri­ence with­out be­ing so sen­si­tive.

Give him tasks to do

A highly sen­si­tive child of­ten has less con­trol over his life, and fre­quently has lit­tle per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Strengthen your child emo­tion­ally by giv­ing him small tasks around the house, such as tidy­ing the news­pa­pers or putting his dishes in the sink af­ter a meal. That makes him feel bet­ter about him­self.

Em­pha­sise his strengths

Your preschooler wor­ries so much about what he thinks he can’t do, that he for­gets all the things he can do.

So, point out all his good points. For in­stance, he has a lovely na­ture, he has a gen­tle singing voice, he is kind to oth­ers, and so on. That takes his at­ten­tion away from his per­ceived weak­nesses.

En­cour­age pos­i­tive think­ing

Your child’s sensitivity makes him think neg­a­tively. For in­stance, when he faces a new chal­lenge, he ex­pects to fail.

En­cour­age him to have pos­i­tive thoughts, by say­ing to him­self, for ex­am­ple, “I can cope with this” or “The other chil­dren will like me.”

Make him feel spe­cial

There is no greater an­ti­dote than mak­ing your child feel loved, val­ued and spe­cial. He is much less af­fected by the up­sets of ev­ery­day life when he knows that you think he is fan­tas­tic.

Your be­lief in your child in­creases his self-be­lief, which in turn re­duces his sensitivity.

Ex­plain the ef­fect of his be­hav­iour

Ex­plain to your child that peo­ple may take him less se­ri­ously be­cause he is so sen­si­tive. Tell him the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, em­pha­sis­ing the sim­i­lar­ity be­tween his be­hav­iour and the that of the boy in the story. Your mes­sage will get through to him even­tu­ally.

En­cour­age his re­silience

Ask him to make an ef­fort to hold back his tears, no mat­ter how stressed he feels. Point out that if he cries less, peo­ple will know that his tears are a sign of gen­uine distress and are not just an at­tempt to gain at­ten­tion.

Even if he makes strong claims that his tears are real and nec­es­sary, just re­peat that you want him to re­act less sen­si­tively.

Plan ahead

By now, you prob­a­bly know the typ­i­cal sit­u­a­tions that trig­ger his sensitivity, for in­stance, los­ing in a game with his peers.

Talk to him in ad­vance, help him to pre­pare emo­tion­ally for what lies ahead, and then praise him when he copes more ro­bustly.

Con­sider your re­sponse

Think about your own be­hav­iour when he is highly sen­si­tive. Do you get an­noyed with him? Do you tense up and go to soothe him? Do you quickly run over to him?

If you over-re­act in any of th­ese ways, you might re­in­force the very be­hav­iour you want to stop. Try to give a less in­tense re­sponse.

Your child’s sensitivity makes him think neg­a­tively. For in­stance, when he faces a new chal­lenge, he ex­pects to fail. En­cour­age him to have pos­i­tive thoughts in­stead.

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