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Nine phrases we should avoid saying to a child with high sensitivity and how to turn them around

Highly sensitive children have a series of peculiarities that make them perceive, understand and experience the world and the things around them more intensely.

They are children who can feel overwhelmed by their own emotions, as well as misunderstood, when the people around them do not quite connect with them or resort to phrases that we should avoid with a child with high sensitivity . They are phrases that we make without bad intention, but that can hurt just the same.

And it is very important to take care of our language with children, so that they feel accompanied as they deserve, whether or not they are highly sensitive, with their strengths, their points of improvement, their personality and their essence. What not to say to a child with high sensitivity, and how can we reformulate these phrases?

Nine phrases we should avoid saying to a child with high sensitivity and how to turn them around

“There’s no big deal, you’re exaggerating”

Highly sensitive children have emotions on the surface; things especially affect them. Therefore, with phrases like this you are invalidating their emotions and sensations .

With this phrase the child can feel that what he feels is not important, it is not valid, and that therefore he must be repressed.

Alternative phrases to this and that will not damage their sensitivity can be: “I understand that this affects you a lot, can you explain it to me better”, or “this affects you a lot, right? How do you feel?”. That is, instead of judging, ask, empathize.

“Do not complain that much”

Many times these children resort to complaining because they find it difficult to manage a situation, they feel overwhelmed by the stimuli of the environment, or for any other reason.

Instead of resorting to this phrase, we can opt for “I understand that you are saturated [or that you do not feel well] , but can you express what is happening to you in another way?”

“How sensitive you are!”

Although it may seem like a neutral phrase, the truth is that, depending on the context, and depending on the tone we use to say it, it can be harmful to the child. And it is that this one can take it as if being sensitive were something negative.

For example, if a classmate has told him something that he did not like at school and he tells it while crying, and we tell him this, he may interpret that he has no right to feel what he feels . Instead of this phrase, we can use “what is happening to you?”, “what you are telling me affects you a lot, doesn’t it? How can I help you feel better?”.

“What nonsense!”

Nothing they feel, or what happens to our children, is silly. As we know, highly sensitive children feel things differently, with greater intensity, because they also perceive things differently, with another filter, and are more capable of appreciating the details and nuances of situations, which sometimes Sometimes it can translate into greater emotional suffering.

Therefore, it is normal for these children to value things differently, or to be affected by things that perhaps other children would not be affected by. Whatever they live or feel, let’s never tell them “what nonsense”. Let us always choose to ask, not to judge; “How does this make you feel? Why do you think you feel this way?”

“How picky you are!”

In addition to the emotional area, children with high sensitivity also show particularities in the sensory area. Thus, they are often children who complain, for example, of seams on their clothes that rub against their skin, tastes or smells that they don’t like, noises that make them cry or overwhelm them…

Things that, for the rest of the people, have nothing special or do not bother them. Therefore, do not invalidate these sensations with phrases like this (which would be like saying “don’t be exaggerated”, “no big deal…”). You can instead use “Do you want us to change these clothes? How would you feel more comfortable?”, etc.

“You always get overwhelmed very quickly”

Phrases like this or similar should also be avoided. Perhaps they are children who get overwhelmed easily (or quickly), but they do so in certain environments (for example, when there are many stimuli). And they have their reasons.

Therefore, we insist on avoiding the “always” in the sentences. And also, in changing this sentence for a question; For example: “Are you getting overwhelmed? Where would you feel more comfortable?”, etc.

“You never concentrate!”

Children with this sensitivity may have difficulty concentrating, because their brain processes many stimuli at the same time (which makes it difficult for them to “filter” the information). Thus, what often happens is that overstimulation blocks their heads and does not allow them to process as much information.

Therefore, if your child is highly sensitive and has difficulty concentrating, do not say this phrase to him; In addition, we must try to avoid “never”, “always”, because they are very generic and absolutist adverbs.

Isn’t it true that your son does concentrate sometimes? So, saying “you never do”, even if it’s an expression, it’s not true. Then opt for “Today it’s harder for you to concentrate, right?”, or “Are there days when it’s harder for you to concentrate? What can help you focus your attention?”

“Why do you get like that?”

Depending on how this phrase is formulated (the tone, the context), it may not be harmful. For this reason , we must focus on the tone and context , since depending on how, it may seem that it questions our child’s emotions (for example, if we say it with a reproachful tone, when the child is simply upset or uneasy about something even though we understand their reasons, etc.).

When it is, we can easily reverse it to be more appropriate and less harmful, and as always, questions can help us. “What is it that makes you look like this?” Simply by changing a few words, we go from a phrase that can be harmful to another that is much more friendly and empathic.

“It’s nothing, forget it!”

Everything that children feel is important, whether or not they are highly sensitive. Also, neither children nor people forget things because they tell us that we have to forget them. On the other hand, in this sentence there is also an invalidation of what the child feels ; “it’s no big deal”.

But maybe it is for him! You can reformulate it with, “This affects you a lot, right?”, “You’ll see how little by little you forget this”, or “Surely over time you’ll experience it differently…”. We insist, it is about asking to understand and accompany, to be able to support the child’s emotions.

How to treat a child with high sensitivity?

Actually, like any other child: with respect, love and empathy, but with the addition that, there are things that perhaps we should say with more tact. The key? Know him well. In addition, it can also help us:

  • Never question what they feel, with phrases like the previous ones; before questioning or judging, ask, inquire, listen.
  • Avoid environments with many stimuli (for example, with many people, shopping malls…).
  • Learn to listen to him and accept his emotions without judging them.
  • Resort to questions when you need to understand, instead of nagging.
  • Resort to physical contact (remember that it helps you feel calm, protected and confident).
  • Identify those situations that generate stress or overwhelm to prevent or adapt them.
  • Accept it as it is.
  • Anticipate important changes (and avoid making more than one change at a time).

Photos | Cover (Unsplash)

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