Parenting Multiple Sensitive Children
“No two snowflakes are alike.”
As a parent educator and children’s life coach, this concept has always stuck with me as one of the most beautiful on earth. The idea that each snowflake floating down from the clouds is perfectly and uniquely designed, and that for thousands or even millions of years no two have ever been alike. Just as with snowflakes, no two people on this earth are identical, not even identical twins. All have independent thoughts and original and beautiful ideas. So too are the sensitive children that reside under our roof – our own unique snowflakes.
I think about parenting my two sensitive children, and even from birth they were completely different. I remember the day my Daughter was born – my labour with her was long and intense, heavily medicated and she and I were so sick, we had to stay in the hospital for a week. She was intense, didn’t sleep without hours of rocking, and was highly sensitive to sounds, sudden movements, foods and people. I remember the day my Son was born – my labour with him was fast and furious without medication and we were discharged the very next day. He was laid back, slept as soon as he was placed in the crib, loved everyone, ate everything and loved noise including the sound of loud motorcycles. And therein lies the personalities of my two “sensitives”! Each so completely different from one another and yet both carry the qualities of a sensitive child.
Parenting sensitive children may be difficult – parenting two very different sensitives can be absolutely hair-raising trying to navigate through their sensitivities to best support each of them individually. My daughter needed lots of reassurance, nurturing and quieter activities. My son needed lots of very intense physical activity, and the freedom to try new things independently from his family. Introvert and extrovert, imploder versus exploder – welcome to my world as the parent of sensitives.
With so many sensitivities to deal with, it can be very overwhelming to parents, especially if there has been a diagnosis that requires treatment. Sometimes the “undiagnosed” child demonstrates behaviours that may be construed as undesirable because the undiagnosed sensitive child feels and knows that they are not receiving the same attention as the diagnosed child. Keeping our wits about us when we truly feel like screaming at everyone and everything can take the patience of Job. We want to best support each of our sensitive children without demonstrating “favouritism” or “neglect” to the child that requires more attention in that moment.
When we make the decision to become a parent, there is no handbook or manual to truly prepare us for what lies ahead. Without losing our marbles, we need to stay connected to that which supports us as parents as well as that which supports each child individually. Here are a few tips to do just that.
- Respect each sensitive child as an individual, independent of one another! Find out what best supports them as individuals and celebrate their uniqueness.
- Ask each child what it is that they need! This has been mentioned in a couple of my previous articles and I will say it again – many kids know what they need and can articulate those needs, so parents, ask.
- Never compare your children! Every child has a unique set of skills, talents and abilities that need to be “showcased” independently at different times.
- Create independent spaces that best support your sensitive child’s needs. Create a sanctuary for the child that is best supported by quiet – give them space to be quiet. Create a “gym” area for those children that need to get their ya-ya’s out. Give the child that needs to connect with nature a space outdoors such as a treehouse or playhouse to support that connection.
- Be respectful of these independent spaces. Others cannot enter into the space unless given permission or invited to do so — including you parents.
- And most of all parents, make sure that you are scheduling time together weekly for you and your spouse or co-parent. With our super busy lives, it is imperative that we as parents stay connected to best support our sensitive children. Get together to chat about co-parenting, book date nights, create a mom and dad sanctuary that supports you independently as well as a couple and create a parenting plan that best works for your family!