Letting Go: Parenting the Sensitive Child

 In Circle the Child, Weekly Forum Discussion

Written by: Laurel Crossley


I have had the distinct pleasure throughout the years of working with wonderful and beautiful sensitives ages 2 – 8. When I have sat with them, observing their behaviours, I noticed something quite beautiful – they didn’t feel out of place, alone, insecure or different than any of their friends. They were confident, eager, interested engaged and respectful to one another. I then began to wonder, who has the concern, the parent or the child?

I have seen so many parents (bless their hearts) worry and fret about some of the most minute things (and trust me, I was right there with them when parenting my own children). And then something happened, I decided for my own peace of mind to simply let go. I see parents cringing, right now as they read this, visualizing the “horrors” of letting go and imagining the anarchy that could potentially ensue. Please allow me to explain.

Let’s look at the “big picture” of parenting by fast-forwarding into our children’s lives as adults. Our role as parent (in my humble opinion) is to inspire happy, independent adults with the necessary life skills to live on their own. When I survey parents, the majority of them have a similar wish for their children. What I witness is something quite the contrary – parents doing everything for their children well into young adulthood.

I have heard of parents doing their children’s homework, calling the school to challenge a teacher or professor’s grade and even attempting to stay with them in their dorm rooms at college to ensure they’re eating properly or that they are safe! The bottom line is if a sensitive child feels safe, secure, happy and confident in their abilities or behaviours as perceived by others, including parents, they are so much easier to parent!

So parents, how the heck are we ever going to let go of our sensitives to give them a rock-solid foundation? Here are just a few tips to make a start on letting go:


  1. STOP DOING EVERYTHING FOR THEM! Children want to feel included in the family and doing everything for them can cause feelings of disconnection (especially to a sensitive child that may already have those feelings of disconnection – this may actually exacerbate the situation). Let them try things on their own.
  2. STOP TRYING TO CONTROL ALL THEIR BEHAVIOURS! I see this so often where a parent feels embarrassed by their children’s behaviours and so they attempt to control them. The more you try to control a child that is “out of control” the worse the situation gets. I recommend that parents look for parent support systems/groups or classes to learn how to best support their parenting style.
  3. LET THEM MAKE MISTAKES! Mistakes are how we learn, and unless there is a risk to personal safety, let them make those mistakes. Helicopter parenting doth not make a secure child.
  4. LET THEM TRY THINGS! Just because you don’t like a certain activity or are not good at it doesn’t mean that your child won’t like it. They are totally different than you so let them come to their own conclusion.
  5. GIVE THEM SPACE! Let your children establish their own way of doing things that works for them. If they want to wear the same outfit 12 days in a row, let them. If they don’t want to wear socks because they hurt, let them. If they like their room organized in a particular way, let them.
  6. THEY ARE NOT YOU AND HAVE NOT LIVED YOUR CHILDHOOD – PARENT ACCORDING TO THEM! Oh, Parents! The numbers of times I hear you telling me, “But Laurel, I don’t want them to experience what I experienced as a child …”. Your life experiences will not be those of your children nor will your fears or worries unless you continue to remind them.
  7. ENLIST THE SUPPORT OF OTHERS WHEN YOU NEED HELP – NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK! Let’s face it, parenting a sensitive child can be a hair-raising/hair pulling out situation. Thank goodness so many communities have tremendous supports to help you out. There are parent-child centres, community centres, community groups both on and off line that can help in so many ways. Sometimes all you have to do is ask, tweet or post and help is right at your fingertips.
  8. TELL THEM HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU! Every child needs to hear their parents tell them how much they are loved and appreciated as part of the family dynamic. Never discount how much this can support your sensitive child’s self-esteem.

A sensitive child is more likely to interpret that her mom or dad doesn’t believe she is good enough to try or do things on their own and so they stop trying anything on their own. They lose confidence and become insecure if the parent is always correcting what they’re doing or doing it for them. I know parents that do/redo their children’s chores. How is a child to learn how to do something well unless they are practicing it over and over again? A sensitive child interprets this as “mommy/daddy doesn’t think I can do this, they think I am wrong, I must be bad, I can’t do anything right, I just shouldn’t try”, etc. As long as a child is not in imminent danger, children need to explore and try things and make mistakes! Many parents are so afraid of their children making mistakes that they do everything for them.

Children need to fail, make mistakes and learn how to do things—on their own!




Recommended Posts