IS YOUR CHILD HIGHLY SENSITIVE?
- Mums Tips
- Parenting Skills
- Published on Saturday, 16 February 2019 11:09
- Last Updated on 14 February 2019
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Does your child seem to feel things more deeply or intensely than others and process everything more thoroughly? Are they prone to having hurt feelings, cry more easily and become very upset by criticism? Are they bothered by being in busy places or around too much noise and prefer quiet time? Then they may be a Highly Sensitive Child.
What is high sensitivity?
One in five children are born with an innate temperament trait of high sensitivity (otherwise known as sensory processing sensitivity). This means that they tend to notice more in their environments and pick up on subtleties than others tend to do. They also feel things more deeply and process everything more thoroughly and they can be more emotionally reactive to positive or negative events in their life. Highly Sensitive Children dislike busy places, too much noise and overpowering smells. And if there is too much sensory or environmental stimuli or too much going on around them, their nervous system gets overstimulated and hence they can end up feeling overwhelmed.
Check out the additional tick list of traits:
- Intuitive, reflective, empathic, compassionate and caring.
- Often older or wiser than their years
- They dislike change or notice little changes that others wouldn’t.
- Hesitant about meeting new people or being in new environments.
- Complain about clothing materials being itchy or scratchy.
- Tend to favour a best friend rather than a group of friends.
- They get deeply distressed by another’s suffering.
- Have ‘imaginary’ friends, psychic abilities or see/sense things that others can’t.
- Love being in nature, by the sea or are drawn to crystals.
- Are creative or artistic.
- Are natural helpers or givers.
- Can find it a struggle to wind down and/or sleep after a busy or exciting day.
- Respond better to gentle discipline rather than loud or angry tones, which they find deeply distressing.
Helping them to thrive in a non-sensitive world
What a highly sensitive child needs above all else to thrive in this world, are parents that understand, support, nurture and embrace their sensitivity. By discussing sensitivity with your HSC and their differences in a positive way, you can help them to flourish and develop positive self-esteem as they grow. (For example, you could say: ‘you know some children are good at sport and some aren’t, well some children will feel things deeply like you do and some won’t’, everyone has their own unique skills and abilities.)
The other thing HSCs need is to find ways to reduce overstimulation from environmental and sensory stimuli. For instance, being in nature is one of the best ways for reducing overarousal and overwhelm in HSPs or HSCs. Creating a calm and relaxing space at home for them too is important. For that reason, it can help to create a sanctuary for them in their bedroom. Let them choose their favourite colours for their décor and make reading, drawing, painting or crafts part of their downtime.
Mel Collins is an Author, Speaker, Therapeutic Counsellor and Healer based in Devon. Her book ‘The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People’ was published in January 2019 by Watkins Publishing. Before this, she worked for the Prison Service, including eight years as a Prison Governor managing Substance Misuse Services. Being innately sensitive in a challenging prison setting has given her a unique learning experience to develop coping strategies for managing certain aspects of the HSP trait. She has also appeared on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, spoken on BBC Radio 5 Live about HSPs and been featured in the Daily Mail and various magazines.