“… it is primarily parenting that decides whether the expression of sensitivity
will be an advantage or a source of anxiety.”
Elaine Aron, PhD
Does your child want all the tags pulled out from her shirts? Or enjoy quiet play more than big and noisy groups? Does she seem to read your mind? Or ask lots of questions? Is she incredibly perceptive noticing all these minor details of life? Perhaps she has even been labeled as “shy” or “highly emotional” by someone close to her. If you answered yes to any of the above you may be raising a highly sensitive child – and yes, this is a great thing.
The Highly Sensitive Child
As a former highly sensitive child, I personally relate to Elaine Aron’s description of the highly sensitive child. She states a “highly sensitive child 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.” Such children are incredibly responsive to their environments whether it is the lighting, sounds, smells or overall mood of the people in their situations – these kids pick it up. (Dr. Aron’s test to “see” if you are raising a highly sensitive child is at: http://www.hsperson.com/pages/test_child.htm
With a sharpened sense of awareness these children are often gifted intellectually, creatively and emotionally demonstrating genuine compassion at early ages. The downside is that these intensely perceptive kids can also get overwhelmed easily by crowds, noises, new situations, sudden changes and the emotional distress of others. Daniel, a four-year old client of mine, is a highly sensitive child and notoriously won’t take naps because he is too “wound up” by his preschool peers. Another highly sensitive child, Lizzie at age eight, came home from school after seeing a bullying episode and just broke down crying. Criticism, defeat and the distress of others is something sensitive children feel deeply.
A huge number of my private child clients are highly sensitive children. Since my expertise is children’s emotional health – these kids need extra care and feeding so that they can learn how to see their sensitivity as a strength and begin empowering themselves with tools to tap into the “upside” of their sensitivity such as insight, creativity and empathy while simultaneously learning how to manage their rich emotional lives.
To read more, you can go to Maureen's blog at Psychology Today: http://bit.ly/iXVvzR