Keep the Holidays Happy for Your Highly Sensitive Child
Dec 01, 2019 12:00AM
By Amy Vasterling
Child playing in snow with a stuffed reindeer doll
The holiday season is upon us and with it comes some extra needed attention in parenting, especially if you have a highly sensitive child. Being highly sensitive is a personality type and is defined by having a finely tuned nervous system. Because of this, highly sensitives process information at a very deep level, and this often goes unseen. They do this based on their high level of inner knowing. When something happens that doesn’t align with what they know, they work to take in all aspects and process them quickly. This can leave them overstimulated by large groups or loud noise; they need ample time to be alone or to simply be quiet, which can be hard to come by during the holidays.
Here are a few strategies that will help keep your highly sensitive child happy during the holidays:
- Make plans that consider the child. You are your child’s best advocate because you know them best. Be cautioned not to let other family members make promises or decisions for your young highly sensitives. Simply tell the adult that it’ll help everybody if you have the child run things by you first.
- Trust that your child knows what’s right for them. Coach your child to make sound choices about how much they can do. For example, if their cousin asks them to go skating, to the mall, out for pizza and then to the winter parade, ask your child to tune in to see if that feels like it will work for them. If the child is unsure yet wants to go, it may make it easier for them to decide if they know that they will have time to sleep in the next morning and get a late start with some quiet time (assuming that's possible). It helps your child, when they’re still young, to learn and respect their boundaries as a highly sensitive. For some children, it might be harder to be at a noisy mall than others. Keep your child’s sensitive areas in mind so you can help them make good choices, empowering them for a positive, enjoyable experience and teaching them a life-long skill.
- If any one day becomes too much for your child, step in and offer them downtime. Rub their feet by the fire; give them time to nap or sleep in late; encourage them to be in nature alone (if they’re old enough); allow time and space for them to spend uninterrupted in a room to themselves, reading, making some art or quietly playing. These are all great ways for your child to restore and be ready for more.
- Let your child have a say in plans; it’s a good way to support their power of choice. As stated earlier, allowing the child to choose how much they can handle, with you as their coach, can help them learn a life-long lesson about managing their energy and time for their future. When making a family plan for the day, find spots for moments of quiet solitude. Stop at a library 30 minutes before meeting other families at the restaurant; stop at the hotel for a 30-minute rest period; or make a side trip to a park for some free play or time in nature for the child to have the freedom to do as they need. Making a plan with some of the child’s input can help greatly in having a successful day and holiday experience.
- Holiday foods can become excessive. Your highly sensitive does better away from sugar and high carb foods. Making sure they get plenty of fresh veggies and fruits in between holiday favorites is a good idea.
Holidays can also be exciting with presents, visiting relatives, and time away from home. Bring a comfort item for a young highly sensitive to use as needed for soothing and as a signal to you; when you see them with the item, you know they need time to restore. Remind older kids to bring a journal or whatever other tool they use to decompress.
These small steps can help all the festivities of the holidays be well received by any child, including your highly sensitive. Enjoy!
Article by Amy Vasterling, an
intuitive and teacher of parents of highly sensitive children, works with
individuals and families throughout the Twin Cities. To learn more, visit AmyVasterling.com. See ad, page 9.
It’s not you, and it’s not the child. I am Amy Vasterling, intuitive and teacher of parents of Highly Sensitive Children (HSC). Does your child demonstrate any of the following characteri... Read More »