Is your child easily overwhelmed? Does your youngster find life changes particularly challenging? Would you describe your son or daughter as “shy” or “cautious”? Is he or she sensitive to bright lights or loud noises?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you may have a highly sensitive child.
Some children are born more sensitive than others. We don’t know why but researchers think it could be linked to individual differences in the brain and sensory processing system. Highly sensitive children are very “tuned in” to what they can hear, see, smell, taste, or touch. They also tend to experience emotions at a more intense level and for longer periods of time. High sensitivity is a personality trait that researchers estimate affects between 12 – 15% of the general population.
While being highly sensitive can create difficulties in life, these types of children can do well with a little extra TLC and understanding from their caregivers. Highly sensitive kids have many gifts to share with the world, including creativity, compassion, innovative problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and an extraordinary aptitude for deep thinking and reflection.
- You help your highly sensitive child shine by following some of these tips:
- Support them to see their sensitivity in a positive light.
- Convey confidence that they are strong enough to deal with what is ahead.
- Provide opportunities for creative expression such as art making or writing.
- Support them to move outside their comfort zone in small, manageable steps.
- Expect them to take a little longer to adjust to changes in their life.
- Help them use their sensory system as a tool for calm by identifying soothing things they can see, hear, touch, and feel when they are distressed. Examples may include white noise, soft blankets or toys, or images of nature.
If you are interested in learning more about supporting highly sensitive children, check out the writing of Dr Elaine Aron on hsperson.com and Dr Deborah McNamara on mcnamara.ca.
Article Written + Submitted by
Monica Purcell | Family Facilitator