Finding Your Family’s Natural Rhythm

Sometimes I wish I had the energy of a child! My lack of energy is more noticeable the older I get! As I’ve aged, I’ve realized that I need more breaks than when I was younger. Even though children typically have a lot more energy than adults, highly sensitive children often need more frequent and longer breaks than other children.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that we all have natural rhythms or seasons of life. Most of us have more energy at certain points in the day, either being a morning person or night person. And there are times throughout the calendar year that are busier than others, for example, the beginning and ending of the school year or Thanksgiving and Christmas. In this post, I’ll walk you through ways you can find the natural rhythms of your family. After you identify those areas, you can work with your highly sensitive child to find ways to have breaks even when life is hectic. 

Notice the rhythms of the day:

As I said earlier, most of us have a time where we naturally feel more energized. It is important to figure out when your child has the most energy and then try to put some things in place throughout the day that allow them to thrive. This is much harder when children are in school because of the school year calendar.  

If mornings are hard:

  • Having your child sleep in the clothes they are going to wear to school the next day

  • Set out their clothes the night before

  • Pack their lunch the night before (if they are in charge of packing their own lunch)

  • Pick what they would like for breakfast the next morning-try a protein shake or something similar if they don’t want to eat that early

  • Try gentle wake ups vs. last minute hectic wake ups

  • Have them set their own alarms so they can give themselves extra time to wake up (many alarms now have options to set several alarms at once, giving children time to wake up slowly instead of hopping out of bed immediately)

If afternoons are hard:

  • Give them a 30-minute brain break after school-allowing them to watch t.v. or play games 

  • Have a calm down corner in their room or playroom that is filled with things that can calm them down or are soothing to them

  • Play soft music 

  • Have their favorite snack ready or easily available

  • Try to avoid starting on homework right away


If evenings are hard:

  • Set an earlier bedtime that allows them to read or listen to calming music

  • Start bath or shower time earlier in the evening

  • Have several pairs of their favorite pajamas on hand so they always have a clean set at night

  • Have a sound machine or light machine to provide soft sounds and lights if this is soothing to your child

  • Try a diffuser with a favorite scent

Notice the rhythms of the week:

We all have weeks that are busier than others. When this happens try to prepare your child for what to expect at the beginning of the week. Typically, highly sensitive children have difficulty with transitions, so knowing what they can expect ahead of time can help. This could be a quick family meeting on Sunday night letting everyone know what is happening or a family calendar for everyone to see. As you discuss the busyness of the week ask your highly sensitive child what they might need during that week to make it easier. For example, you might say, “You have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday right after school, and then we have Girl’s Scouts that night, what time should we plan for you to do your homework?” Although they may give you a ridiculous answer like, “never,” you can help them think about and plan for getting their homework done in a timely manner that day. During this discussion, it might be good to remind them that unexpected things may come up and it will be a good opportunity for them to practice flexibility.

Notice the rhythms of the year:

When my children were younger, the beginning of the school year was especially difficult. When my younger son was in school, we prepared ourselves for the weekends being difficult for at least a month after the school year started. He was more irritable, had meltdowns easier and usually wanted more time on electronics. Thankfully, as he got older, this transition time went from a month to a weekend when school started! 

Remember that transitions are hard, even positive ones, for most highly sensitive children. As you come into busier seasons with your highly sensitive child, try your best to create a plan that works for all of you. For example, if you know you’re going to be at several places for Christmas, you can tell your child the plan and have them help you brainstorm safe places to take a break at each place-even if it’s the car. Allow them to have an electronic device or calming music as they take this break if appropriate. Giving them permission to step away can be so helpful in them gaining control over their big emotions.  

As a reminder, in the final section of the HSP workbook, I provide a Troubleshooting Guide for Parents. In this guide, I walk parents through 10 practical steps on how to help their highly sensitive child and their overwhelm. I’ll be expanding on each of the ideas in a series of blog posts. I hope these tips on finding the rhythms of your family are helpful. 

My hope is to help you implement practical ways you can use to help your child find breaks.  If you would like more support in parenting your highly sensitive child,  please feel free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email If you’re looking for help parenting your child, I offer parent coaching online and more information can be found on our website. If you are looking for help with depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, our physical location is in Greenwood, IN, and you can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling

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