A child who cries easily, shows excessive responses to general discipline or yells over minor issues is considered sensitive, according to Dr. Elise Abromson, Child Psychologist in Frederick, Maryland. As a parent, you may struggle trying to discipline your sensitive child. She may break down when you enforce rules or break into hysterics when you correct improper behavior. Don’t give up. Discipline is part of parenting and there are ways to discipline your sensitive child.
Step back and remain calm. “Yelling can agitate the child, making the situation worse,” explains Dr. Abromson.Try to talk to your child quietly and rationally. You may need to step away from the situation momentarily while you select your words carefully. Take a calm tone and clearly and firmly explain your child’s incorrect behavior. Patiently explain to him the behavior that you expect. After everybody has calmed down, give your child a hug and reassure him that everything will be okay.
Create a chill spot. Rather than sending your sensitive child to “time-out” for bad behavior create a calm “chill spot,” advises Dr. Abromson. “A chill spot is a place where your child can go to relax and recompose herself. Decorate it with soft pillows. Supply the chill spot with constructive activities like crayons and paper. Fill it with stuffed animals.” When your sensitive child acts out of order, direct her to her chill spot where she can relax. This also gives you an opportunity to gain your composure and rationally figure out the best way to address her actions.
Show instead of tell. When your sensitive child acts badly, show him the behavior that you expect. As calmly as possible, tell him to stop and watch. Then start doing exactly what he was doing. He may even think you are being silly and realize how out of order his behavior was. Next, show him the correct behavior. The act of seeing what you expect rather than listening to a lecture will make a stronger and more memorable impact.
Explain your reasoning. As a parent, you may think your child should follow your rules because you are the boss. But, some sensitive children need you to explain your actions. They aren’t questioning your decisions, they just don’t understand why the rules are in place. Take the time to explain to your child why you are punishing her or why you want her to stop her behavior. For example, instead of telling her to stop jumping, explain to her that if she jumps the wrong way she could hurt herself and miss a fun, upcoming activity.
- Dr. Elise Abromson, Psy D., Child Psychologist, Frederick, Md.
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