Have You Been Blessed With a Highly Sensitive Child?

Have You Been Blessed With a Highly Sensitive Child?

Have you been blessed with a highly sensitive child?

To find out the answer to this question, take this short quiz found on the Highly Sensitive Person's website.

My child:
startles easily
complains about scratchy clothing, seams in socks, or labels against his/her skin.
doesn’t usually enjoy big surprises.
learns better from a gentle correction than strong punishment.
seems to read my mind.
uses big words for his/her age.
notices the slightest unusual odor.
has a clever sense of humor.
seems very intuitive.
is hard to get to sleep after an exciting day.
doesn’t do well with big changes.
wants to change clothes if wet or sandy.
asks lots of questions.
is a perfectionist.
notices the distress of others.
prefers quiet play.
asks deep, thought-provoking questions.
is very sensitive to pain.
is bothered by noisy places.
notices subtleties (something that’s been moved, a change in a person’s appearance, etc.)
considers if it is safe before climbing high.
performs best when strangers aren’t present.
feels things deeply.
Some of you may be wondering how this quiz could describe your child so perfectly! Another extremely common sign of a HSP is that they feel pain when those around them are feeling pain. Think of a child crying when their sibling goes in for their immunization shots, or when an animal is hurt. I know my oldest is very much this way, and my other two are too young to be able to answer some of these questions, but I know that they also have Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) tendencies, and I've known since they were about 2-months-old. How did I know?  It takes one to know one sometimes. I am a HSP myself, and it runs in families. I knew there was a good chance my kids would also have this gift. A HSP has a neurological system which is wired in such a way to pick up on more in their environment than the average person. If you have this, chances are you've been told many times in your life that you are "too sensitive" or "shy".  I thought there was something wrong with me for most of my life until I came across a book by Dr, Elaine Aron titled, The Highly Sensitive Person. I felt that I was reading a book written by my best friend or my mom because it described my personality so well. The book, and the concepts in the book, have helped me to shape my self perception and allowed me to help those who are close to me to understand me better, including my husband. Because of the life-changing experience of adding a title to what things I was experiencing, and why those experiences were different from others around me, I knew the importance of having a source I could go to for support and information. I know that if I had had these tools as a child, I would have been able to use my HSP gifts better, instead of being concerned about turning off my sensitivity. That is why I think it's important for parents to recognize these attributes in their children starting at a young age, especially for boys, so that they can be given the best chance for success and self-worth, especially in our American society where "macho" is praised and sensitivity is frowned upon. There is a book that addresses the Highly Sensitive Child, and it is important because it helps non-HSP parents understand their child better and how they are processing their world. Think of sensitivity like pain (and oftentimes very literally pain). Everyone has a different pain tolerance, but when you are experiencing pain, it is not in your control to experience it or not experience it. You can't choose to not feel pain, generally speaking. You can find different ways of dealing with pain, but you will still feel it when that pain threshold is met.  That is how a HS child has experiences of being overwhelmed in his or her environment. It is an actual neurologically provoked experience that they don't have a choice to experience or not.  They can find different ways of thriving, and figure out how to use this gift to their advantage with your help and support. There are many upsides to this as well. They will be very empathetic to those around them, they will be good friends to everyone, and be protective siblings. They will care about others and reach out to others. They will have deep emotional experiences with things like music and other artistic expressions. Generally, they are very bright and thrive in academics. They will think about the world in ways that will open the eyes of others. They generally have strong spiritual connections. There are so many upsides to having this trait, it is a matter of learning how to use the gifts in the context of the society we are living in.  For a parent, it is a matter of developing their gifts while helping them manage their overwhelming feelings. Discipline is an area of big concern for this condition. You can find all these answers in the book I mentioned above, The Highly Sensitive Child.

The main take-away from this discussion is that being a Highly Sensitive Person is not a negative thing.  They are needed and have been needed for survival for as long as humans have been in existence.  If you feel you have a Highly Sensitive Child, check out this website and book to learn how you can support your child to be the best they can be. They will thrive when learning from you how to embody the phrase by Gandhi, " In a gentle way, you can shake the world."

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