Fear. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Between navigating daily life amidst a pandemic, planners that have received so many edits they’re more scribbles than schedules, and an explosive election year, maintaining a peaceful and uplifting outlook as an adult can be challenging… so what about our children? Kids are naturally resilient (thank goodness!), but for our highly sensitive young ones the current times can bring about additional challenges. Empathic children are not only affected by their own emotions. They are able to pick up on the emotions and energy of others, often without awareness of doing so. The additional stress among parents and teachers combined with new regulations that reduce comfort and coping mechanisms such as physical touch can result in mental health and behavioral issues. So what can we do to help our emotionally and intuitively gifted kiddos?
- Meditation. Guide them through meditation exercises, such as breathing techniques and visualization tools. Doing so together is beneficial for children and adults alike, reducing stress hormones and adrenaline production. Simply teaching them to bring their awareness to their breathing and slow it down gently when feeling stressed or overwhelmed is a powerful tool to put in a child’s wellness toolbelt.
- Physical Activity. Make sure they are getting adequate physical activity. Though some may have physical education or recess scheduled into their day, the majority of children in the United States are still not meeting the requirement recommendations to support healthy growth. Children are encouraged to be physically active at vigorous or moderate levels for a minimum of one hour each day. Bring back the old school games you enjoyed as a kid or try something completely new. Keep in mind, they look up to you so involve them in a form of physical activity you enjoy!
- Mindful Meal & Snack Preparation. Work to intentionally reduce sugar and processed foods from your child’s (and your) diet. Highly sensitive kiddos are often even more reactive to foods with high sugar content and overly processed ingredients. Wondering what to replace them with? Think natural, planty goodness! Involve them in the process as much as possible, from choosing what foods to pick out at your local farmers market to inviting them to help in the kitchen. It can be simple and easy for your child to choose a healthy snack as well. We keep a row of mason jars in our fridge (within reach of our little one) that contain fruits and veggies such as grapes, green pepper slices, carrots, cauliflower chunks, and berries washed and ready for little hands. By allowing them to choose which colorful snack or side to enjoy, children feel empowered to practice intuitive eating. The more you and your children can experience the colorful array of plants found in nature, the more your body and mind will thank you.
- Get Outside. As much as weather and time permit, explore the outdoors! Children (and adults) need time to reconnect with their inner wild animal! Between fresh air, more activity, and natural exploration, the outdoors are the original classroom! Your highly sensitive kiddo is designed to be supported in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness and growth. Invite them to learn from their natural surroundings, taking in the change of seasons, observing wildlife, and identifying native plants and trees.
- Creative Expression. Support your child in expressing themselves the way they naturally gravitate toward. Children are innate creators, who love expressing their thoughts and emotions through creative play and artistic means. Put on their favorite tunes for a dance party, break out the rain ponchos and paint up a storm, or build a fort out of materials found around the house.
- Genuine Connection. During this time especially, children require authentic (while being age-appropriate) conversation and fulfillment of their emotional needs. Empathic children can pick up on your emotions so talk them through with your children when they’re noticing your feelings. By doing so you are furthering their understanding of their own emotions as well. Spend quality time together that is uninterrupted by technology. Highly sensitive children are quite perceptive of whether your attention is elsewhere so set your phone aside, save the mental to-do list for later, and take time to be fully present in your life and theirs.
Which of these tools have helped your children the most? Let’s share below!