Does your child feel deeply?
Do they struggle with change?
Are they attuned to the emotions of others?
Do they ask BIG questions?
Are they sensitive to sensory input?
If so, you may have a Highly Sensitive Child.
A highly sensitive child is is one of the fifteen to twenty percent of children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything.” – Dr Elaine Aron.
You can do this questionnaire to see if you have a highly sensitive child.
My eldest son is one of the most sensitive souls I know (he scores 21/22 on the quiz!).
He is compassionate, intuitive and fiercely loyal. He struggles with change and likes to know plans well in advance. Certain textures and sensations are hard for him to tolerate. He can walk into the house and tell if I have been baking, even if it was hours ago and all evidence has long been cleaned up, just by the faintest smell.
His sensitivity is one of his most wonderful attributes, but it is also his cross to bear. Being sensitive and feeling so deeply can be challenging for anyone, but most of all children. And I think, even in this day and age, particularly for boys. Boys still aren’t meant to be ‘soft’. Boys are meant to be tough and robust. Boys aren’t meant to cry, feel anxious or scared. Or at least not admit to it.
My boy wears his heart of his sleeve and it has made him the target of bullies in the past. He doesn’t like scary or sad movies and is sensitive to age inappropriate topics or themes. If he is uncomfortable, he won’t hesitate to remove himself from the situation. With a very strong sense of justice, he will not ‘run with the pack’ to fit in if it means doing the wrong thing.
Parenting him brings great joy but also great challenges.
If you find yourself parenting a highly sensitive child, here are some things you can do:
- Teach them about feelings. When a child feels all the things it can be very overwhelming for them and ultimately lead to meltdowns. Being able to identify, talk about and manage their feelings is an important process for a highly sensitive child.
- Validate their feelings. Don’t ever tell them to harden up. Discounting what a sensitive child feels will just create more hurt and distress. While it is important to acknowledge their feelings, however, do not make a big fuss as that may fuel a bigger reaction.
- Give them space. Highly sensitive kids need down time. If they’ve had an overwhelming or taxing experience, make sure there is quiet time for them to chill out and regroup.
- Be there for them. Listen to them, hug them, reassure them. Your highly sensitive child needs a strong connection with you as a parent to feel secure in the world. They also need to space to debrief, which is a great time to do points 1 and 2 above.
- Value their sensitivity. Highly sensitive kids are such beautiful souls. Their caring, giving nature is exactly what the world needs more of. It should be something that is valued and nurtured, not seen as a weakness. Don’t try to change them, just cherish them.