Creative Child

Disciplining the Sensitive Child

by Rebecca Eanes


4. Avoid isolating or withdrawing warmth and love.

Time-out is a popular discipline tactic where a child is sent to a chair or specific spot away from everyone else until he is “ready to behave.” We now know that time-out is not the most effective way to teach any child, but again, HSCs are particularly sensitive to the harm it does.

5. Avoid being permissive.

Don’t avoid correcting your sensitive child out of fear of hurting her feelings. Loving correction that is not harsh or shaming will not damage her but will help her to reach her fullest potential.

Discipline to Favor

1. Change your tone of voice for correction.

For sensitive children, a correction given in a serious tone of voice is often enough to deter the behavior. Because they want to please their caregivers, knowing they stepped out of line is distressing and will cause them to correct their behavior.

2. Connect before your correct

A good rule of thumb for all children but is especially important for the sensitive child because if they perceive a threat, they will shut down quickly. Reassure her that you are on her side and will help her solve the problem.

3. Replace time-out for time-in.

Because it is best to avoid isolating sensitive children to a time-out chair, time-in is a good alternative whereby you take the child to a calming area, help him to calm down if needed (calm brains absorb lessons) and then discuss why the behavior was unacceptable and what he can do instead.

4. Use consequences sparingly, and make sure they are related to the offense.

Again, reminders and a change of tone is often enough to correct a sensitive child. In the case that they repeatedly break a rule when you’ve given them clear limits and instructions, a mild logical consequence may be useful, but watch for a shame reaction and adjust accordingly. More importantly, of course, is to find out why she is repeatedly breaking the rule.

5. Restore connection, security, and self-esteem after disciplining a sensitive child.

Positive affirmations, encouraging words, and play time or focused attention will help your HSC to know he is still loved and delighted in.

You may have noticed that these tips are not much different from how I recommend disciplining every child, and that is because, while some children are more emotionally and physically sensitive than others, all children have sensitive hearts that deserve to be treated gently.

Interestingly, I have since had a non-HSC child and have found that, while traditional discipline may “work” for him and not my HSC, gentle, positive discipline actually works well for both of them. I believe all children respond well to reasonable limits enforced with loving guidance.

Related Article: The Top 5 Ways to Parent Mindfully

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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