Fortify Sensitive Kids

I’d like to take away your tears
And clear your path throughout the years
But some journeys we can’t share,
Go forth bravely, know I care

Children are likely to interpret and respond very differently to their experiences, depending on their temperament. Sensitive children are likely to be wonderfully compassionate, bright, creative and imaginative. They may also have a difficult time dealing with stressful situations and may be prone to being worried and anxious. Of course, every child is an individual with his or her own unique traits. We don’t want to label our children but at the same time, it’s important to accept the nature of their temperaments. It’s particularly important that we teach sensitive kids to handle stressful situations in a healthy, effective way. When children don’t have a handle on anxiety, it’s likely to escalate when they become teenagers. Children who struggle with anxiety are more susceptible to developing depression and mood disorders and anxious teens are at risk of becoming involved with drugs and alcohol in a desperate attempt to relieve their discomfort.

Rescuing Versus Empowering

As parents, we naturally modify our parenting to suit our child’s temperament. However, when children go to school, they will interact with all sorts of children and teachers who will be unlikely to modify their behavior to suit our child’s disposition. This can cause a sensitive child to become frustrated and anxious. There are times when it’s appropriate to step in and help our children and there are times when they must learn to stand on their own two feet. Parents of a sensitive child will continually be making judgment calls regarding how much their child can handle without assistance. However, whenever possible, work towards empowering your children to stick up for themselves. By jumping in to help our children too quickly, we teach them that they are helpless and that the things that happen to them are beyond their control. Learned helplessness is a surrender of the spirit. Remember, even though you’re trying to be helpful, rescuing generally shows a lack of faith and reaffirms your child’s belief that he (or she) does not have the ability to handle difficult situations.

Children Who Aim to Please

Sensitive children are often particularly susceptible and vulnerable to the actions and words of other children and adults and tend to get their feelings hurt easily. In some ways, when this happens, these sensitive children lose their childhood. Instead of being carefree and interacting joyously and freely with the world, they become overly self conscious and begin worrying about how people see and react to them. Often they “read” adults or peers as they anxiously watch for approval or disapproval. They are unable to enjoy the “here and now” as they constantly look ahead for a reward or a reaction.

“Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

As a child, you probably remember retorting these words when someone said something hurtful to you or called you a name. As a mother of two sensitive girls, I know how hard it is to see our children’s feelings get hurt from a thoughtless or mean spirited remark. Although it can be quite a challenge to help our sensitive children not to take hurtful words personally, it’s a worthwhile endeavor and one that will serve our children throughout their lives. Sensitive children are incredible—and their sensitivity is part of what makes them compassionate, empathetic, and loving. We don’t want to change who they are. However, we don’t want them to be overly vulnerable to insensitive or rude comments and actions.

Here are some suggestions to help sensitive children get their self-worth from inside themselves, rather than from the words and reactions of others.

Practice what you preach.
Many sensitive children have at least one sensitive parent. If you are overly sensitive to slights and thoughtless or rude comments that come your way, work on changing your reaction. You can be certain that your child is watching.

Help children understand that unhappy kids can be unkind.
Begin to teach your child that what other people say has more to do with that person than with him (or her.) Elementary school aged children can usually understand that people sometimes say mean things when they are unhappy or upset with themselves.

Remove poison arrows.
Teach your children that hurtful words are like poison arrows and that they need to remove them as soon as possible before they get under their skin. Get in the habit of saying “poison arrow” or “remove the stinger,” when someone says something unkind or hurtful to you, then act as though you’re actually pulling a poison arrow or stinger out of your skin. Have your child practice doing the same.

Teach children relaxation and self-calming skills.
Children become more resilient to stressful situations when they can mindfully quiet and relax themselves and interrupt the fight-or flight response.

April, 2006

A Complete Guide for Parents on children's Sleep and Relaxation


  • The original Floppy Sleep Game CD & 7 additional tracks
  • A 4-week program for kids who refuse to snooze
  • Bedtime activities, rituals & relaxation techniques
  • Tips for relieving stress & anxiety
  • Foods & supplements that promote sleep.
  • Information on sleep disorders
  • Tips for relieving stress & anxiety
  • Health problems & neurobiological disorders that affect sleep

You can learn more about the book and order it via our website by clicking here.

Or you can order through by clicking here.

Patti Teel is the fairy godmother of peaceful bedtimes.

Dubbed “The Dream Maker” by
People Magazine
and “The Sleep Lady”by
The Wall Street Journal

Patti Teel is the creator of a highly acclaimed audio series that teaches children a fail-proof way to relax themselves to sleep through relaxation exercises (based in yoga), visualizations, music & storytelling.  And now her new book for parents, The Floppy Sleep Game, picks up where the recordings left off.  It contains a step-by-step program for parents to follow and teach their children to relax and/or fall asleep.  The techniques from The Floppy Sleep Game book also help children cope with fear and anxiety in a healthy way. 

She is holding Dream Academy workshops at schools, hospitals, and libraries across the country where parents and children learn the playful relaxation techniques from her book and widely acclaimed children’s audio series. Children at the Dream Academy workshops practice the three R’s by resting their bodies, relaxing their minds, and refreshing their spirits.


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Upcoming Event:

As mothers, we are powerful role models for our children. Throughout history, many women have used their courage and compassion as a powerful force for peacemaking, reconciliation, and community cohesion. Today, a record number of women across the globe are forming circles to promote peace and put an end to the War in Iraq.

I am honored to be a part of one such group, called Mother Hearts. Together with the Santa Barbara Chapter of Veterans for Peace, we are organizing a Mothers Day ceremony at a stretch of beach in Santa Barbara, CA—dubbed Arlington West. Here, it is impossible to be indifferent to the devastating cost of war. For on Mothers Day and each and every Sunday morning, individual white crosses are placed in long straight rows in the sand, one for each fallen soldier of the war.

The Mothers Day gathering will honor and mourn the loss of lives, as has been the tradition of communities for centuries, and commit to working for peaceful solutions to conflict in our world. If the event at Arlington West inspires your compassionate action, join us in person, through prayer and peaceful intentions, or by sending your art or written expressions of peace to For more information on the event itself, visit

The Dream Maker's April Dream Starters

Dream Starters are visualizations which promote relaxation, imagination and well-being as they guide children into the world of dreams.

Getting Ready

To prepare for these dream starters, (or visualizations), create a quiet comfortable atmosphere in which your child can relax.

Step One ~ Progressive Relaxation (Tensing & Relaxing Muscle Groups)

Have your child lie down in his bed.  Have him lift each arm and leg individually, holding each limb tightly before loosely flopping it down on his bed.  Then have him wrinkle his face and hold his eyes tightly closed, before relaxing his face.  (Tense each muscle group for at least 5 seconds.)

Step Two ~ Focus on the breath

Have your child get very quiet and watch his own breath.

Step Three ~ Creative Visualization

Now that your child is relaxed, read (or tell) the following visualization.  Of course, feel free to modify it according to your child’s age and interests. 


It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day. You walk into (a) (your) grassy yard and lie down on a soft blanket. The sun warms you and you enjoy the bright colors of springtime. You start to watch a hummingbird lightly flitting from flower to flower. What would it feel like to be a hummingbird drinking from your favorite pink, red, and purple flowers? Does each flower taste a little different? Does it taste like cool-aid? How does the air feel on your tiny little body as you quickly dart from one spot to another?

Then you hear the sound of chirping and notice a bluebird perched on a near-by branch. He is much larger than the hummingbird. What would it feel like to be a bluebird? You would wake up each morning and begin to sing. Then you’d fly off to explore the world, whistling your song and finally returning to your home.

You look at the bluebird’s home—a tall, powerful tree. What would it feel like to be a gigantic tree? Would you enjoy having the squirrels and birds playing and making their home on your branches? You would feel sturdy and strong and the breeze would gently rustle your leaves. You would have nothing to do but drink water from your roots and soak up the warm sunshine.

And then you wonder what it would be like to be the sun. You rise brightly every morning, letting everyone on Earth know that it’s the start of a new day. Then you slowly, slowly, move across the sky, warming the Earth and everything on it. And then you would cheerfully say good-by each evening by lighting up the sky with a beautiful, colorful sunset.

You wonder what it would be like to be the Earth. You feel solid. There is life on every part of you. The mountains, deserts, plants, animals and people are a part of you. And so are the rivers, lakes and oceans. The air dances throughout every part of you.

What would it feel like to be the air? You would be everywhere—surrounding the rocks, the mountains, and the trees. Children like you, all around the world, would breathe you in and out, in and out. You are a part of every living creature that breathes. When a baby is born they take their first breath with you. You breathe life into animals and people around the world—in and out, in and out, in and out. You are a song. You are a dance.
You quietly fill the space between all living things. You are light and clear.

Close your eyes and be the air.