Emergency Calming Techniques
I am a fan of the Emergency Calming Techniques that Havi Brooks uses at the Fluent Self - http://destuckification.com/.
She identifies as a Highly Sensitive Person and while the products are aimed at adults I think they would be a fantastic resource to adapt and teach to highly sensitive kids.
The techniques address any sort of agitation and distress including anger, sadness, grief, fear, over-excitement.
They are really fantastic because they provide soothing from multiple directions at once
- physical (which you could add to with the therapeutic techniques like deep pressure hugs, rocking etc)
- energetic (using accupressure points)
- emotional (validation and permission, similarly to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy techniques)
- mental (once a child is old enough and calm enough to think anything at all - eg. reframing) and
- the "awareness" level (tapping into self-awareness, the 'observing-self' or 'wiser-self' to work out what it is that they need in that moment).
Obviously the younger and more upset a child is the more emphasis you would place on using the earlier levels, but I can see how these techniques would be really useful and empowering to teach kids as they grow so that they can self-soothe, and get better at taking care of their emotional boundaries and find life less assaulting.
My son is diagnosed as ASD, but I reckon it's a combination of other factors including sensory processing stuff that presents like ASD because he dissociates once the sensory input gets too much. He definitely feels his emotions very intensely, but he seems to be very sensitive to other people's feelings too, which is atypical of ASD. Sometimes he is INsensitive, but it seems to ME like another dissociative thing than genuine aspergers-y/ASD logical-only-empathy.
Anyway - at the moment (he's just turned five yo) we're using physical techniques and emotional validation. I'm experimenting with the accupressure points but haven't had enough similar experiences to compare it with and without. But I can certainly report that it all works for my OWN calming the hell down!
Best of luck to everyone. Certainly raising highly sensitive, spirited kids is a challenge, but I truly think it's our job to get in and meet our kids where THEY are and value their gifts as well as skill them up where they struggle. They're all unique and beautiful.
Good job parents!