099: How to parent highly sensitive children

Is your child Highly Sensitive?  Does it sometimes feel as though you don’t understand them, and struggle to support them in the ways it seems they need to be supported?  Or does your child experience and process things more deeply than other children, but this is the first time you’re hearing about High Sensitivity?

In this episode Dr. Michael Pluess helps us to understand how we can know whether our child is highly sensitive, and how to parent these children effectively so they can reach their full potential.



Aron, E. N., Aron, A., & Jagiellowicz, J. (2012). Sensory processing sensitivity: A review in the light of the evolution of biological responsivity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 262–282.

Aron, E. N., Aron, A., & Davies, K. M. (2005). Adult shyness: the interaction of temperamental sensitivity and an adverse childhood environment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 181-197.

Aron, E.N. (2002). The highly sensitive child: Helping our children thrive when the world overwhelms them. New York, NY: Harmony.

Aron, E. N., & Aron, A. (1997). Sensory-processing sensitivity and its relation to introversion and emotionality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 345-368.

Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2011). Differential susceptibility to rearing environment depending on dopamine-related genes: New evidence and a meta-analysis. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 39–52.

Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van IJzendoorn, M. H., Pijlman, F. T., Mesman, J., & Juffer, F. (2008). Experimental evidence for differential susceptibility: dopamine D4 receptor polymorphism (DRD4 VNTR) moderates intervention effects on toddlers’ externalizing behavior in a randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 44, 293-300.

Belsky, J., & Puess, M. (2013). Beyond risk, resilience, and dysregulation: Phenotypic plasticity and human development. Development and Psychopathology 25, 1243-1261.

Belsky, J., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & Van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2007). For better and for worse: Differential Susceptibility to environmental influences. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 300-304.

Bouvette-Turcot, A-A., Pluess, M., Bernier, A., Pennestri, M-H., Levitan, R., Skolowski, M.B., Kennedy, J.L., Minde, K., Steiner, M., Pokhvisneva, I., Meaney, M.J., & Gaudreau, H. (2015). Effects of genotype and sleep on temperament. Pediatrics 136(4), e914-e921.

Pluess, M. (2015). Vantage sensitivity: Environmental sensitivity to positive experiences as a function of genetic differences. Journal of Personality 85(1), 38-50.

Pluess, M. (2015). Individual differences in environmental sensitivity. Child Development Perspectives 9(3), 138-143.

Pluess, M., & Boniwell, I. (2015). Sensory processing sensitivity predicts treatment response to a school-based depression prevention program Evidence of Vantage Sensitivity. Personality and Individual Differences 82, 40-45.

Pluess, M., & Belsky, J. (2013). Vantage sensitivity: Individual differences in response to positive experiences. Psychological Bulletin 139(4), 901-916.

Pluess, M., & Belsky, J. (2011). Differential susceptibility to maternal sensitivity. Maternal Sensitivity: A critical review for practitioners, 95-107. Retrieved from http://philosonic.com/michaelpluess_construction/Files/PluessBelsky_2010_Differential%20Susceptibility%20to%20Maternal%20Sensitivity.pdf

Pluess, M. & Belsky, J. (2010). Differential susceptibility to parenting and quality child care. Developmental Psychology 46(2), 379-390.



About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

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