Your child might be one of the kids who struggle to wake up on the “happy side of the bed.” One day your little darlin’ is sweet as can be, but the next day you sense it will be Meltdown Morning. Other days your child might be sluggish and difficult to rouse. Some kids often start the day in meltdown mode until they get a decent breakfast. But the challenge of getting them to the table to eat can be overwhelming. When our days start off rocky, sometimes it is difficult to regain our sense of balance, but it is possible.
There are challenging kids, and there are “over-the-top” challenging kids. Research suggests that around 15% of all children are considered highly sensitive. What does this mean for parents of kids who exhibit these characteristics? More importantly, what kinds of behaviors classify as highly sensitive? Knowing that your child may be more sensitive than most need not be overly burdensome, there are many strategies for helping highly sensitive children thrive. Are any of the following comments true about your child? If so, read on to discover positive ways to help your child celebrate their uniqueness and succeed.
Does this sound like your child?
“Dressing is always an ordeal for my daughter. No tags, and sometimes no socks, because the seams drive her crazy.”
“My teen has never been a touchy kid. It used to be tough to get him to slow down for a hug, but now he even pulls away and acts like I’ve violated his space.”
“My child is such a picky eater. I feel like I’m always special order cooking from the ‘brown and white’ food group.”
“My son just can’t sit still – he’s always squirming and wiggling. It’s almost impossible to get him to slow down, look me in the eye and really listen.”
“My daughter’s mood swings are extreme and sometimes very sudden. The littlest things can set her off. Talk about intense! Her meltdowns wear me out.”
“My child is easily over-stimulated. Large groups of kids, crowded places or busy stores are usually a prescription for trouble.”
These comments are from parents who have one thing in common: highly sensitive children! These kids are easily overwhelmed by intense or aversive sensations from their body or their surroundings. They are almost always kids with highly sensitive nervous systems, and their challenging behavior is about much more than defiance or disobedience.
Over the years, Lynne and I have worked with many families who struggle with the same issues. Time and again, we see how a change in perspective can transform a parent-child relationship from one of tension to one filled with grace. When it comes to school, grades and performance, there is often a minefield of conflict over expectations. Parents often believe that they need to create change in their child to see improvement in work ethic and performance when it comes to grades. The truth is, change best starts with the parent.
Read on to learn how one mother and daughter set aside conflict and embraced grace for homework success without nagging:
Misty anxiously told me about her seventh grade daughter, Greta.
“Her grades are tanking! She’s sassy and defiant most of the time! I know she is capable of so much more, but she won’t dig in and live up to her potential. I check her grades every day. I’ve withheld privileges, created charts, offered rewards, and constantly reminded her. But it keeps getting worse. Our fights get louder by the day!”
When you’re constantly fighting with kids who don’t live up to their potential, we suggest a new approach, a new fight: the fight of faith to walk in the “fruit of the spirit.”
Getting an education is a tremendous privilege. Most parents recognize that future opportunities are built on many layers of learning that happen during the school years. That’s why when kids make poor choices at school, either behavioral or academic, parents usually get pretty upset. If we are honest, it’s mostly because we think our kids’ bad judgment or irresponsibility reflects poorly on US! But really, their behavior is THEIR “report card” and not ours. As school approaches, take some time to prepare your children to be responsible for themselves this school year.
Heading back to school can be an anxious and stressful time for kids — and for parents, too! New schedules, new notebooks, new teachers and classmates add up to a lot of excitement and oftentimes, anxiety. All that change can get everyone in the family into a tizzy. One important element to consider is the way in which a parent or caregiver can intentionally help children face the upcoming school year, especially if they are feeling nervous about school. Here are a few proactive tips to help smooth the transition this fall:
Most of us agree that respect is an important skill to build in children which will empower them for their entire life. Whether it is for future work or family relationships, having the ability to set aside frustrations and grievances out of respect for one another is a life skill that will serve our children well. But, teaching respect and teamwork is a “ground up” operation. When kids are young they struggle to find ways to compromise and get along. It can be frustrating as parents, to know how to guide our children in respectful interactions with us as well as with each other.
One couple I (Lynne) recently coached, Don and Layna, were discouraged about the disrespectful language between the children in their home. They worried that things were not trending well and, with four kids, they had a lot of challenges! Their intense daughter, Alicia, especially seemed to struggle with respect, and often fired hurtful verbal zingers at her siblings and parents.
There are few things more frustrating to a parent than an outward sign of disrespect coming from their children. You know it: the eye-rolling, door-slamming or long sighs of disdain that kids utilize to get their point across with aggravating success. In an attempt to regain control over disrespectful children what often jumps out of our mouths is,“You MAY NOT disrespect me!” (or some variation). We may demand their respect, but do we get to the bottom of what’s going on in their heart? How do we cultivate respect in children with grace?
Whether you call them tantrums, meltdowns, or “big feelings” – we all know that most kids (and therefore most parents) struggle at times when emotions overtake the ability to think and reason well. When it comes to dealing with kids’ tantrums, parents get pretty desperate. Unfortunately, even when equipped with the best tips and online advice, they often find themselves stuck in a familiar pattern of explosive interactions with their kids that goes something like this: The child gets upset and throws a tantrum, then the parent gets upset and angry. Suddenly, everyone is throwing their own version of a tantrum! Can you identify with this struggle?
Discipline That Connects is going to be re-released on September 20 through Bethany House Publishers! The 2nd edition has been expanded to include more practical advice for families that long for peace and connection.
The James family (not their real name) took the Discipline That Connects (DTC) Online Course together. The curriculum in the online course arose out of the content of the book. Read the following testimonial to hear how God’s grace-filled transformation helped their family find peace for their family – especially their 5 year old son who struggled with aggressive outbursts.
Erik and Heather recently took the Sibling Conflict Online Course and were kind enough to share with us some of the things they learned and implemented with their own family of seven.
“The Peace Process” is the method we teach to encourage kids to resolve conflicts with wisdom. Erik and Heather especially loved how they were able to use The Peace Process and see positive results in their own home pretty quickly. Heather notes, “we are still a work in progress,” but how inspiring to see a family who is growing together in peace and connection! Actually, part of raising a family is being willing to be a work in progress! So, we applaud families like Erik and Heather’s for their willingness to keep learning and keep trying new things.
Connected Families asked Heather to share about their experience