UNDERSTANDING BETTER YOUR HIGHLY SENSITIVE CHILD
(by Mark Wells BSc.ND.MSocSc.)
The Highly Sensitive Child (HSC) will process information and reflect on it more deeply. And if a child notices so much more at once, he/she will naturally become more easily over-stimulated (and at times overwhelmed) when things become more intense, complex, chaotic or just when things are new. These situations occur often with kids, especially when they are learning about new things.
HSC’s have an innate sensitivity which leads them to be more easily over aroused and have stronger emotional reactions to who or what is around them. About 1 in 5 children (the same ratio for adults) are HSC’s, with equal numbers of males as females. It is not a ‘condition’, it is a NORMAL trait, just as being tall or short, having black hair or red, is also a normal trait.
In the quieter HSC, you may not be able to directly observe the deep processing that is going on inside their minds. As a parent, though, already having the knowledge that your child is highly sensitive, you can give your child the space and time “to take it all in” without rushing or pressuring them anymore. However, if your HSC is more extroverted in their reactions and behaviour you need to understand that and especially not over-react to them yourself (and no-one is saying that is easy!!!).
A child’s high sensitivity can also express itself on a physical level, eg. sensitivity to certain foods, primarily to sugar, dairy or gluten, clothing, odours, etc.
Some Tips for Parents of a Highly Sensitive Child
1) Become more familiar with your child’s other qualities, not just their sensitivity.
2) Try to avoid being overprotective so your child can be exposed to new experiences. Acknowledging and working through your own anxieties will help.
3) If your HSC shows interest in something new, support them in trying it even if it is a bit different or you have no interest in it yourself.
4) If your child is NOT developing interests, broaden the possibilities beyond the normal (school) curricula or hobbies. Try to think outside the square. Prepare yourself for them to ‘shop and change’ a bit until they find their special interests.
5) Learn to assert yourself for your child. Role modeling appropriate and healthy self-assertiveness is crucial if they are to develop it themselves.
6) Try not to become guilt-ridden or apologetic for every little mistake you make in parenting your HSC. Recognising that your child is highly sensitive is exceptional parenting!
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If you would like more information on Highly Sensitive Children head over www.wellsnaturopathy.com.au