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Parenting a Deep Feeling Child: 5 different approaches to help them manage big emotions

We can’t parent a deep feeling child with traditional methods.

You might pass them off as dramatic or inflexible, easily overwhelmed, or overreactive, but some kids and teens are simply wired to feel things more deeply.

Studio 5 Parenting Contributor Heather Johnson is seeing more and more parents in her office who don’t know how to deal with a child who experiences these big emotions.


The Deep Feeling Child

“A child who’s deep feeling is going to experience emotions to a much greater degree. The other thing that’s different is they’re going to express what they feel bigger also,” Heather explained. These expressions can range from tantrums to screaming and yelling, throwing things, hitting a sibling, and other forms of acting out. As a parent, it can be hard to understand why something simple can cause such a big reaction.

Try to Believe Them

“You can know you’re probably dealing with a deep feeler if the traditional approach to parenting makes things worse,” Heather pointed out. Traditional parenting methods often exacerbate the situation, leading to bigger outbursts and more frustration for both the parent and the child.

“We have to make sure that everything we do when we parent a deep feeler lets them know that we believe them. That we believe that the deep feelings they’re experiencing are real and they’re true,” Heather emphasized.

Addressing the Magnitude, Not the Feelings

“We want to address the magnitude, not the feelings. That means we want to look at a situation and be able to say to them, ‘this is so big, this is bigger than the whole wide world,’” Heather advised. Pointing out the feelings can lead to shame, which only increases the outbursts. Instead, addressing the magnitude of the situation can help the child feel understood and validated.

Looking for the Fear

“Everything from throwing something, hitting someone, saying ‘ I hate you’ or ‘no one loves me in this family’… we tend to think those outbursts are there to hurt us. They’re not. They are outward expressions of their fear,” Heather explained. Recognizing the fear behind the outbursts can help parents respond more effectively and compassionately.

Understanding and parenting deeply feeling kids requires a different approach, one that validates their feelings, addresses the magnitude of their emotions, and recognizes the fear behind their outbursts. As Heather put it, “We just want to believe them.” In believing them, we can create a safe space for them to express their emotions and learn how to manage them effectively.

To contact Heather for counseling, email, or visit

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