Last week, I shared the beginning stages of our journey toward an official sensory processing disorder diagnosis. Today I’m passing along four sensory processing disorder parenting tips that are helping me relate to my children.
Empathy is an important part of positive parenting. When we identify with our kids’ feelings, we can adjust our parenting approach to help them sort through their emotions and follow our directions.
Even though I don’t necessarily have SPD (that I know of), I have found that I do have a few sensory issues. So, I’ve been trying to tap into those feelings to empathize with my children.
Sensory Processing Disorder Parenting Tips for Showing Empathy
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- Think about how you feel when you’re overwhelmed. What sensory moments set you off or irritate you? For me, it’s lots of loud noise. When all of the kids are talking at once, I literally feel like my brain is short-circuiting. So I know that sensory overload is damaging.
- Magnify your own feelings by 10 to get a sense of your child’s emotions. Even though I get irritated when my senses are overwhelmed, I can (usually) stay in control because I know what I’m doing next or because I know I have an action plan. My kids, though, don’t have that option. Naturally, their own response is not going to be as measured as mine. So why would I expect them to behave the way I do?
- Accept that your children have the right to feel. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s something we often overlook as parents. Our children are entitled to their feelings. They really are. Their feelings don’t have to make sense or meet some kind of standard for normality. We shouldn’t ever criticize or belittle what they feel, even if we don’t understand why they are reacting to something so strongly. Since kids with SPD tend to have stronger emotional responses, we need to be prepared to help them manage those feelings, not deny them.
- Acknowledge your kids’ feelings before giving instructions or discipline. To help our children show obedience, we need to deal with their feelings first. Personally, I know that if I’m angry or sad, I find it very hard to follow instructions (even if they’re good for me!). My feelings are so strong that they basically block out my good sense. My kids are the same way. If they’re consumed with their feelings or sensory responses, they’re not going to be able to follow my instructions. I have to acknowledge their feelings and help them work through them before I can expect them to cooperate with direction.
Other Parenting with Empathy Resources:
- Empathic Parenting – The Natural Child Project
- Why Empathy is Not Indulgence – MomPsych
- The Importance of Empathy in Parenting – My Life and Kids
- Empathic Limits in Action: Leaving the Playground – Aha! Parenting
Have you tried parenting with empathy? Does showing empathy make it easier for you to handle sensory processing disorder parenting struggles? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!