How to Live with Sensitive Petals

My biggest lady is a treasure. She truly is. She is so caring, and compassionate, always there for others. She tries so hard to do the right thing by people, and is the first one in line to help. She’d give the dress off her back (just don’t ask her for her tutus…. Girl ain’t parting with no tutus) to make someone else feel better. It is heart-melting stuff.

With such compassion though, comes the other end of the spectrum: emotionality. In buckets. In fact, the buckets are overflowing with emotions and they’re leaking all over the floor, and filling up rooms and our feet are wading in all these feelings and I’m considering purchasing flippers and goggles to swim through the overflow.

sensitive child gif

I was chatting with the gorgeous Rebel last week about this very thing. She has her own sensitive petal, and we talked shop about the highs and lows of our sensitive cherubs.

It’s a double-edged sword sometimes, isn’t it? These cherubs are beautiful little souls and feel everything so deeply, but that can then lend itself to over-the-top reactions, tears at the drop of a hat, taking the weight of the world on their shoulders. How the hell do we balance it out? Without drowning ourselves in a bucket of wine to cope?

Well, I’d still recommend the bucket of wine. Because. Wine. But both we and our cherubs need to find a way to turn the volume down on that emotionality sometimes, without completely dulling it out. It’s not that I want to squash the emotions out of Miss DP, it’s what makes her utterly gorgeous and it’s who she is, but for her own sake, I am desperate to help her see that perhaps not everything needs to be so full on.

sensitive child meme
To be fair, I often contemplate the same thing…

I must admit, there are times where it’s hair-tearingly frustrating. Sometimes I’m at the end of my tether, wondering just what the hell to say to convince her that the sky isn’t falling, because we’ve talked about shit until I’m blue in the face and she STILL doesn’t take it on board. I worry that the world will eat her alive, if she doesn’t dial down the over-emotionality. It can turn into passive behaviour, and then it leads to internalising, and self-doubt and put downs. It’s not pretty.

If you’ve got an emotionally sensitive poppet, here are some tips to try to help turn that dial down to a manageable level:

  • Help them to understand alllll the feels. What they look like, how they feel in their body, what it might sound like. Building up that emotion vocab is important for our sensitive cherubs so that they can begin to decipher just what the hell is going on inside.
  • When they’re at the height of emotional overload, there is Wait until the emotions have calmed a bit- have them go for a walk, take some calm breaths, have a drink of water, go and yell into a pillow- anything to help them short circuit the emotional wave, and get to a point where they can work through them.
  • Don’t give them all the answers. Because they shut off to us when we’re talking to them. Instead get them to give you the answers. Ask- ‘what do you think just happened?’ ‘what kind of feelings came up?’ ‘was that helpful?’ This helps them to get a better grasp of what was going on, and to process it.
  • Practice problem solving. When we’re thinking through our emotions, we can get really clouded and sorting that shit out can be impossible. So when everything is calm, go through problem solving with your cherub (what is the problem? What are all the potential solutions? What are the pros and cons of each solution? Which solution is going to work best for me now? How did it go?)
  • Though internally their high emotionality may leave us wanting to simultaneously facepalm, pull our eyelashes out and scratch our heads with confusion, just showing them we can see what it’s doing to them is huge. At the crux of it, all any of us want is to feel understood, and to be heard. Just letting them know you’re aware, and you’re there is big for them. Responding with frustration usually just sets them off further. Erm, that’s a tried and tested point…. *cough*

Oh, and emotionally sensitive children? Not to be confused with this:

emo-girls-1430256-638x426Which is a whole other ball game of therapy. #emoisso2012

So while at times you can feel like you’ve accidentally stepped onto the set of The Bold and the Beautiful, that sensitive petal is just feeling allll the feels, and isn’t intentionally running with the drama. Except for that time that Miss DP went with the heavy sigh and palm cast across her forehead. It was a direct channeling of Brooke, I swear. We’ve just gotta ride the ride with them, help them turn the dial down where necessary and continue to learn from such soulful, deep, compassionate little dudes and dudettes.


Do you have a sensitive petal in your house? How do you cope? Do you subscribe to wine therapy too?

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  • Hugzilla

    Mmmm, my eldest is definitely the opposite and my youngest I am still unsure about. He is definitely more sensitive than his brother, and I have to be much more careful in the way I pull him up if he is doing something wrong. He is way more emotional as well, and prone to mood swings. Will be interesting to see how that develops as he grows out of preschoolerhood.

  • Oh this is both a wonderful and a challenging post about your DD isnt it? I know kids like this (I could be a little bit like it too) and I think we love them dearly but for them some of the more intense stuff is clearly hard. As she gets older I wonder if she will pick up more cues from her peers..Interesting isnt it? Denyse #teamIBOT

  • Oh my! I was going to email you about this very topic. (You take blog post requests, right?!) Thanks for the strategies! Thanks for reading my mind. I still might email you even. Just cause.

  • They are hard work, that’s for sure! I’ve had times when I’ve been quite stern and had to say, ‘it’s not that bad, you just need to stop now.’ That’s hard but I think there are times when they do need to be told firmly that there are only so many necessary tears!

  • Tanya Mere

    Thanks for this post! This very issue has been on my mind a lot, especially following A-grade meltdowns at school if I say no to a play date or if one has to be postponed. I’ll try these strategies and see how we go. Love your work.