kids with intense feelings

I spoke about my intense child the other day on Insta Stories and it erupted in some really good conversation. I promised several of you that I would get all the goods into a post and here it is! There are truly so many of us, I hope that the more we are open and honest about our challenges with these kids who feel deeply and are still learning how to navigate those feelings, the better ALL our situations will become. More tools, more ideas, more compassion, more understanding, more light and laughter and fun, too! There are several amazing quotes from the round-up of books below but this one especially caught my eye and tugged at my heart:Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

It was only in the last few months that my husband and I stopped saying “It’s a phase” and shifted to the understanding that this might just be his personality. Super sensitive, easily overwhelmed with emotion of all kinds and seemingly deeper more intense feelings than your average joe.

For my kiddo there are SO many factors we are weighing each day. I’ll share them here because maybe it might help you in figuring out your balance, too!

-He is a picky eater, but also has a lot of sensitivities in his favorite foods. Like corn and dairy are his favorite things, but also things an allergist told us to stay away from. We do our best, but it’s so hard!

-Eating often. He can get ultra focused and not be concerned with eating but I think he might be hypoglycemic like his mom because if I can keep him fed and fed well (I.E. not chips and chocolate milk) he is night and day different. I found he LOVES Jamba Juice smoothies (Caribbean Passion is his fave) so I bought the pre-bagged smoothes ($3 gets two full cups) and because the flavor is something he loves and recognizes and can be consistent with the bagged version, I can load in extra good stuff. Knowing he is getting good nutrients that way helps take some of the pressure of forcing him to eat things he doesn’t like which is ALWAYS a battle and causes so much contention.

I add Buried Treasure ACF for Kids Immune Support, a Probiotic powder, and this Organic Superfood Blend. The Caribbean Passion flavor is strong and recognizable enough to come through and they don’t even flinch when they drink it!

-Sleep. I can tell he is tired when he gets super weepy. I pull the plug on him and put him in my bed and turn the fan on. He might throw a fit but 100% of the time he falls asleep when I do this.

-Attention and Praise. He seems to keep track if I am paying attention or praising other kids more than him and he will internalize and eventually tell me that it made him sad. He acts out to get attention and  in turn can get in trouble a lot which also triggers him. Vicious cycle.

-Control and being in charge. He has said so many times he can’t wait until he’s older so he can make the rules.The less I tell him what to do the better for us all. I have to pick my battles with him and occasionally we do a “YES” day (usually a Saturday after they finish their chores) where parents can only say yes to things the kids want (we have some rules to keep it within reason) and he LOVES it so much.

-I’ve had him tested for a number of things as a precaution to no avail, but one thing I sense in him is that he gets over stimulated super easily. Too much noise, too much going on, to bright etc. So I have to make sure he has a lot of down time with out all of that. He is also a classic introvert where as me and my other kids are the opposite so we have to protect him in that way and make sure he gets time to himself.


Validation. Validating kids feelings is sometimes all they need to hear to let go of something. It’s as easy as mirroring their emotions or actions to them, “I can hear that you’re really angry.” “I can see you’re so excited you couldn’t wait.”

Grounding or Earthing. Feeling peaceful in nature isn’t a fluke, the energetic waves that come from way underneath the Earth’s surface have been shown to have a calming effect and negative charge on us all! You have to be barefoot for it to work but it is proven!

Drink Water. The act of drinking water automatically regulates breathing and switches the brain to focus on not choking. Watching stressed child drink water, they are visibly calmed (this research was discussed in this book!) In addition dehydration can cause irritability and a number o other stressors.

Weighted Blanket These blankets (mine is 15 pounds) are used for all types of disorders like OCD, Autism, Sensory issues, and anxiety. Serotonin levels have been tracked to raise when under a weighted blanket which helps calm and relax as well as helps us fall asleep faster. This is the one I use and put my kids under to watch a show, or have quiet time when needed.

BOOKS SUGGESTED: I’ll post a quote from each book that helps summarize what you can expect to learn

Whole Brain Child — “We now know that the way to help a child develop optimally is to help create connections in her brain—her whole brain—that develop skills that lead to better relationships, better mental health, and more meaningful lives. You could call it brain sculpting, or brain nourishing, or brain building. Whatever phrase you prefer, the point is crucial, and thrilling: as a result of the words we use and the actions we take, children’s brains will actually change, and be built, as they undergo new experiences.”

No Drama Discipline — “Reduce words. Embrace emotions. Describe, don’t preach. Involve your child in the discipline. Reframe a no into a conditional yes. Emphasize the positive. Creatively approach the situation. Teach mindsight tools.”

The Child Whisperer (the “types” book)– “I believe that the purpose of parenting is to raise children true to their natures so they can grow up feeling honored, confident, and free to be themselves. When you truly stop seeing your children’s tendencies through eyes of judgment, they will feel the change and respond in positive ways you cannot yet anticipate.”

Transforming Your Difficult Child — “Children do not awaken by the fear of punishment. They awaken to their greatness.”

The Explosive Child, A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children — “Challenging kids are lacking the skills of flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving, skills most of us take for granted.”

Raising Your Spirited Child — “Love your spirited child for who she is. Because she is more, she will make you more.” or I also loved this one:

“It almost seems un-American, at times, to have kids who are slow to warm up. Other people tell us to push them—to force them to jump in—and they reprimand us for babying them. When your child adapts slowly, remind yourself that you will appreciate it when he is an adolescent. While all the other kids are running off on some ridiculous impulsive venture, yours will be thinking, moving slowly and cautiously. There are strengths to every temperamental characteristic.”




  • Ariana
    February 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    THIS IS AWESOME. My mom has always said she wished she had a resource like this when I was young (born in late eighties)! She had no idea how to deal with my intense and strong emotions that were foreign and scary to her. She also didn’t even KNOW that I was highly emotional and sensitive since I was the eldest child, until she had a few more. This is so important for parents to have, and I just want to say I really appreciate this! I just sent it to her – 30 years too late for her but hey, she has the info now 🙂

    • Small Fry
      February 7, 2018 at 10:08 am

      I remember when I was young I would tell my mom that I was getting so frustrated I felt my skin was crawling. I had tell tale signs of anxiety and panic attacks so early on and she totally missed it! She feels so bad about it now, but it happens to so many! Hopefully it will help at least someone! Thanks for sending it to her. xo

  • Heather
    February 6, 2018 at 5:25 am

    This is what a solid parenting community is all about! My middle child is going through some things in life that I am learning how to best be there for him and to help him grow and flourish and not be hindered by his emotions or actions…it’s all a learning process to show them our unconditional love!

    • Small Fry
      February 7, 2018 at 10:08 am


  • Aimee
    February 6, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Thank you! I needed this today. ❤️

  • Lucy
    February 6, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    This is so helpful and validating for me, a mom to a very difficult/ spirited little girl. When you mentioned that you’d had him tested for everything, I was like, yes- that’s me and my girl! I have felt like I’ve been grasping at anything in hope of finding answers. This might be my answer! Thank you thank you! One question- do you have him sleep at night with the weighted blanket? Or just for shorter periods of time?

    • Small Fry
      February 7, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Its bittersweet to get told that he was none of the things I worried about. Like of course I don’t want him to have a problem, but it felt like it would be nice to have answers or a road map! if he has trouble falling asleep I will put him under it for sure! He actually falls asleep in our bed a lot of times and we move him over so maybe that is why! I think its probably too heavy for him so I should get a lighter one for sure!

  • Amy
    February 7, 2018 at 11:41 am

    I just checked out Happiest Toddler on the Block for my very spirited 2.5 year old. It really is a blessing to have a such a feisty little soul but at the same time it can be very defeating and confusing as his mom. These kids have such big emotions – usually in a public. Lol.

    My co-workers love to hear all his antics, so at least I have a community that can help me laugh about it later. Thanks for the useful post.

    • Small Fry
      February 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

      So good to have someone non judging to talk to!! They really are such amazing souls. IT’s hard to navigate what’s “normal” when they don’t get it and or care. Ha! 😉

  • Dana
    February 10, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Thanks so much for this post! As a mother of a child with SPD and anxiety it can be such an isolating journey. It took us so long to figure out how to navigate her world and each day is a mystery. I’ve had such a hard time with my community (we live in a big city) people have either brushed off my concerns or downplayed her symptoms or behaviors, making me feel embarrassed or worse, second guess myself. Because “too much” basically causes her severe anxiety we had to say no to a lot early on or try make things on her terms (1 on 1 play dates, quieter, calmer birthday parties with maybe only 2 other kids), now she doesn’t get invited anymore. I’ve gotten to a place where I don’t even share about it and man! is it tough.
    Thanks Emily yet again for being my guidepost and showing me (again) that we mammas are doing the best we can and we are in it together, even though we cannot physically reach out and pat each other on the back for a job well done.

    • Small Fry
      February 19, 2018 at 8:56 am

      I’m so sorry you feel like you have to just be quiet. I am always here if you need someone to talk to! It is isolating even in a small-is town! Its hard not to feel judged or misunderstood.


  • 5 Things to Say | Small Fry
    March 8, 2018 at 7:30 am

    […] we talked about Intense Kids things got actually a lot harder over here! I feel like I understand so much more of what my kiddo […]


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