Have you ever been walking down the aisle at the supermarket, and your child erupts into a tantrum? All because you won’t buy them that coveted pack of Oreo cookies? Or maybe your daughter misplaced her precious lipstick (which costs only $1.00 from the dollar store and can easily be replaced) and now she will not stop crying about it. Has your son ever been picked on at school and he has come home acting as if the world is ending?
There are countless scenarios that affect children each day, with the majority of kids handling them in stride (or at least as much in stride as possible for a child). But some children seem to be overly emotional or sensitive to situations that other children are not.
This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I would argue that an overly emotional and/or overly sensitive child has some advantages to their peers that do not have this trait, such as having a higher emotional IQ as well as being naturally skilled at showing empathy.
However, overly emotional children do require a bit more understanding than children who have a better handle on their emotions and feelings. So, I have created a list of three things we can do as single dads or divorced dads, that will help us be better at understanding and dealing with our overly emotional and/or overly sensitive children.
1. Be Mindful
Remember that each child is unique, and with that uniqueness comes different challenges. Overly emotional children can cause frustration and sometimes even anger in parents who have a hard time relating. It is important to always be mindful and use calming strategies when confronted with a stressful experience of dealing with an emotional child.
Meditation is a useful long-term calming strategy. If you do not have time for consistent, daily meditation, then the simple act of taking a single deep breath in a stressful moment can help. It is important to recognize emotions as the parent of an overly emotional child. Awareness is always the first step.It is tougher for single dads to deal with an overly emotional child because we are essentially doing it alone, either full time, without the help of a spouse, with shared joint custody, or even sometimes via the way of part-time… Click To Tweet
2. Have Empathy
Most parents have a tendency to discount the feelings of an emotional child. They rush to solve their problems instead of listening and showing empathy, which can cause more distress and negative emotions for the child. Parents of overly emotional children need to react with empathy, no matter how small the problem seems.
As parents, we have a natural-born instinct to protect our children. This includes attempting to solve each and every problem that the child faces to help them avoid anguish. DO NOT DO THIS. Children tell us their problems the same way we share our problems with our friends, family, therapist, or life coach. They want us to listen to them, and empathize, the same way that we want people to listen and empathize with us.
Children need an opportunity to work through their own issues and problems and NEED someone who will listen, understand, and empathize with them.
3. Reduce Your Expectations.
Stop expecting your child to act like you. First of all, they are children, not little adults. Most parents expect their children to act like little versions of themselves. This is not realistic, especially for an overly emotional child. Second, children who experience emotional problems or are overly sensitive will need more empathy, understanding, and patience from their parents than other children.
I think it is tougher for single dads to deal with an overly emotional child because we are essentially doing it alone. We are doing it either full time, without the help of a spouse, with shared joint custody, or even sometimes via the way of part-time visitation. Each of these scenarios presents its own set of unique challenges.
The key to dealing with an overly emotional child is to implement the three simple tips above. It will not take a lot of hard work, and in fact, it is quite easy. It will take only awareness, mindfulness, setting your expectations, listening, and showing empathy. Good luck dads!!!
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