How to help sensitive children. Best tutor tips

by Anna Michaelidou

Parenting a child that is sensitive can be both rewarding and exhausting. Children that are sensitive are often emotionally overwhelmed easily and can often be viewed as shy or introverted. How parents, teachers and tutors interact or react to sensitive children determines their reaction to different situations and how they can deal with those situations.

sensitive child

Sensitive children common traits

Sensitive children are often overwhelmed by simple things such as a person looking at them in an angry way, loud noises or fierce emotions shown towards them. Understanding whether your child is sensitive is the first step to guiding them through their childhood. Some common traits of a sensitive child are:

  • They cry, get angry or excite easily.
  • They carry a lot of anxiety and worry about things that seem trivial to others.
  • They are aware of problems that others don't acknowledge easily.
  • They are understanding to other people's feelings and experiences and feel deeply for their problems.
  • They respond emotionally to music, films, books or photographs.
  • They act more emotionally than other children their age.
  • They react more emotionally to small cuts and bruises.
  • They prefer a quite environment and do not react well to loud noises or surprises.
  • They do not like being the centre of attention.

These are just a few of the characteristics of a sensitive person and there are many more that can be added to the list. There are of course always positives and negatives that come with being sensitive.

The positives

  • Sensitive people are often good-natured and kind.
  • They are always keen to help.
  • They are usually expressive and responsive.
  • They take other people's feelings very seriously and strive to make others feel good.
  • They are caring and often protective of friends and family.

The negatives

  • They do not handle criticism well.
  • They often carry a lot of anxiety and worry about their ability to do simple tasks.
  • They often carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
  • They take things personally and are hurt by small remarks and strong emotions.

Depending on the level of sensitivity, sensitive children can often be very observant, have sharp senses and react with strong emotions. Parents with sensitive children understand that they often need more understanding and support than children that are not sensitive.

Tutor Advice

Simply acknowledging your child's feelings and talking about them openly and honestly is a big help. Avoiding situations, when possible, that make your child feel anxious and taking the time to explain certain things or enjoy some time-out with them will also be calming for your child.

All children are unique and different in their own way and their approach to learning should be considered by their parents; those who know and understand them best. Having a good relationship with their school teacher or tutor is very important when it comes to the learning of a child that is sensitive. Working together and being as involved as possible can only make for a better outcome.

We at First Tutors asked our tutors to provide us with their top tips on teaching sensitive children.

Tutor Annabel from Bedford gave this great advice:

Sensitive children can be a challenge and it is really important to help them in the best way possible. Children who are low in confidence should be approached gently, using materials that are familiar to them. For example, a child who had an interest in football and needed to learn to use capital letters and full stops could be presented with a picture of a football match and asked to write a few simple sentences about the picture. Praise and encouragement should be used as much as possible - stickers and stampers are a great way to motivate children who are sensitive or low in confidence. If a child does become upset during a lesson, it is important to comfort them and explain that everybody makes mistakes and it is a part of learning. I always show a sensitive child where I have made a mistake and, as well as making us both laugh, it serves to show them that even teachers make errors. All children should be respected and treated as equals; tutors should always ensure children know they can achieve if they try their best and this is no different for any child.

Other tips from some of our tutors were:

  • Give them choices:

Sensitive children dislike authority and are far more comfortable with being given choices. By including these children in decisions, such as asking them for their thoughts on a certain issue or asking them for their opinion on a problem, they will feel more at ease and do much better. Giving a sensitive child choices alleviates frustration and helps a tutor build a better relationship with them.

  • Build a relationship on trust:

Allowing a sensitive child to trust someone that is teaching them is very important in ensuring their success throughout lesson. A tutor's job is to identify a child's weaknesses and work with them to ensure they are understanding and progressing in the right way. A tutor should build a good relationship with the child whereby the child feels comfortable n their company and is able to express themselves naturally.

To conclude:

Sensitive children often feel deeper and are more concerned with sounds and actions that other children would normally not even notice. In some respects sensitive children can often be described like the princess in the princess and the pea fairytale. Just like the princess in the story who could feel the pea beneath 10 mattresses, sensitive children can feel things that others cannot. Understanding that making their surroundings more bearable and preparing them for certain situations can ease their sensitivity and allow them to feel more at ease. By ensuring that parents, teachers and tutors are all working together to ensure the best for a sensitive child will certainly aid in securing better progress for them. Understanding their needs and insecurities and limiting these to the best of our capabilities will give a sensitive child the balance they need to overcome some of their difficulties and secure a better academic future for them.