Are You Bringing Up a Highly Sensitive Child?
“Highly sensitive are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate” – Anthon St. Maarten
Whom would you call a Highly Sensitive Child?
A child is regarded as sensitive when their nervous system is highly alert and they are aware of their surroundings, perhaps inherited, much like other personality traits or physical features. While it is convenient to label this inherent trait as a design flaw, it is far from the truth.
Popular perception about a sensitive child is that they are weak and often admonished for displaying their fragile demeanor. It’s only natural that they feel misunderstood and isolated from others. When forced to toughen up, they can react contrary to their usual, reasonable, and understanding normal self in order to escape. Needless to say, in spite of the fact that this reaction is virtually out of their control, this overreaction is dealt with harshly by authorities and schools.
Characteristics common to highly sensitive children.
These traits must not be mistaken with other similar characteristics such as introversion, shyness, inhibition, anxiety, or fear:
Sensitive children reflect deeply and ask questions that are quite mature for their age. They can feel others pain as if it’s their own. They prefer solitude and a quite ambiance over crowds. Because of their nature, they have difficulty with adjusting to changes in routine. They are also easily startled and are sensitive to sounds and glaring lights
Children who are sensitive are fond of animals and connect deeply with nature. They avoid confrontation and love peace, are regime friendly and can be quite averse to being the center of attention. Their sensitivity makes them empathize deeply, observe intensely yet makes them easily excitable. They are great listeners and possess a broad vocabulary to facilitate articulation.
Handling a sensitive child does take effort, but can produce great results when they know you are on their side. When in the company of strangers, they are pretty uptight with a stiff body language and prodding them only makes them get deeper into their shell.
It is critical that parents and teachers learn to recognize this prevalent disposition among many of our children, especially when they are a part of a society that expects them to adapt to the environment and never the other way round.
These children do not just have to deal with a complex inner world, but also have to deal with an equally difficult and demanding outter world. While a girl child has some respite for being sensitive as a flower, it is particularly scathing to a boy child’s bravado who becomes an easy victim for humiliation.
Parenting a highly sensitive child requires us to,
• Accept them as they are. Trying to change them will only strengthen their belief that something isn’t normal with them. Instead, seek to understand and appreciate their different temperaments
• Collaborate and Engage by Focusing on their Strengths
• Discipline them, but gently. Highly sensitive children are extremely receptive and responsive to feedback
• Learn to recognize their triggers and assist the process, not by being their protective but by enabling them to be self-sufficient with coping strategies such as meditation
• Help them to look at it as a blessing and not a burden.
Several successful historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, and Carl Jung were highly sensitive individuals and high achievers as well. The way these children are interacted with and nurtured can make a big difference on how their strength of character and talents are showcased later in life.