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How to Deal With Hypersensitive and Irritating Children

By Brenda Scottsdale ; Updated June 13, 2017

Hypersensitive children are resistant to change and tend to engage in irritating behaviors such as nail biting, nose picking, head banging and teeth grinding as a result of stress. Parents can best deal with hypersensitive and irritating children by being sensitive to the cause of their distress and employing a number of techniques.

  1. Ignore irritating habits such as whining, thumb sucking and breath-holding; they will often stop if a parent does not reinforce the behavior. Instead of yelling or lecturing, ignoring the negative habits and the irritating behavior will stop. Hypersensitive children are especially vigilant to environmental cues and will determine very quickly which methods of coping are effective and which are ineffective.

  2. Catch your children behaving in a way that is productive and positive and praise and reassure them. Smiling, recognizing and rewarding positive behaviors help a hypersensitive and irritating child develop more positive coping skills. The hypersensitive child will, over time, substitute the irritating behaviors for more positive habits.

  3. Let children who engage in irritating behaviors such as nose picking or nail biting know that this habit is likely to spread germs to themselves and others. Wait for a moment when your hypersensitive child is complaining about being rejected by peers, for example, to share your insights into some specific behaviors contributing to her rejection.

  4. Offer the child who is picking her nose a tissue. Provide a mouth guard to minimize the effects of teeth grinding. Teach relaxation techniques. According to psychologist Georgia Witkin, Ph.D., it is helpful to teach your child to focus on his breathing or walking as a means to relax himself. If the behaviors persist over time or are harmful or dangerous to the child or others, take your child to see a therapist for more intensive intervention.

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