Today you are going to meet my Badass Sensitive son!
I’m going to ask you a favor before you start reading this post. PLEASE SHARE THIS. It’s very important to me that more people understand these amazing children so we can support them and help nourish them so they can grow into the amazing humans they are meant to be.
I am SO passionate about is educating people about this whole, “Highly Sensitive” thing because 20% of our kids are HSP’s.
If you are new to the term, “The Highly Sensitive Person” or “The Highly Sensitive Child,” let me give you a brief explanation. Essentially, we have a finely tuned nervous system and we sense and feel everything happening around us, from the moods of other people, to the sensory information surrounding us (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell).
This can be amazing since we can derive great joy from pleasant experiences, but also comes with challenges when faced with negativity or unpleasant sensory experiences. Over-stimulation is common and this is where the challenge presents itself. It is especially difficult for children because they often don’t understand why they feel the way they do, or why they are different from those around them: they just know of some level that they are.
NOTE: This is different than sensory processing disorder. This is not a disorder of any kind. It’s a very natural trait that we were born with and comes with amazing gifts.
Because of our sensitivity, we are incredibly intuitive and we tend to pick up on everything. It’s like we have this really finely-tuned antenna tuning us into the world around us.
Rather than viewing them as them “too sensitive” or “too emotional” and asking them to be something they aren’t – which leads them to think that something is wrong with them – here is how you can support your highly sensitive child so they can grow up learning to live with their strengths leading the way!
We are culturally conditioned (especially in America) to believe that our kids are supposed to be extroverts, love group activities, and be very out in the world – let’s change that! While not all HSP’s are introverts (there are HSP extroverts as well!), we do tend to need “down-time” that can take form of being alone.
Highly sensitive people are CRUCIAL to making this world turn. We are often the artists, the writers, the musicians, the healers, the givers, the caretakers of the world. We are also incredible parents, friends, daughters and sons.
Rather than expecting our kids to fit into a Non-HSP box, let’s respect and love them for who they are. They have incredible gifts and those gifts can be accessed and used when they are nurtured and supported in a way that they can access them.
The most reassuring thing you can hear is that: There is nothing wrong with your child.
I was not easy to raise. I was a challenge as a kid because of my high sensitivity. I’m sure there were many times that my parents felt totally helpless and didn’t understand how they could help me, or wondered what they were doing wrong. I get it. But relax, you child is amazing.
After years of giving my parents anxiety, I think I turned out pretty well. 🙂
Here’s an interview with my awesome son. He talks about what he needs to feel his best as a highly sensitive child.
If you are looking for some tips on how you can support your child’s needs, I’ve got you covered. (They aren’t very different from the needs of a regular ‘ol HSP adult) If you want to talk more, please reach out to me. In addition to supporting Highly Sensitive Women, I also work with parents to help them understand their sensitive child and what you can do to best support them. I offer a complimentary 30-minute parent support call. Schedule your session here.
BEFORE I START: You won’t be able to be 100% perfect with any of this, so don’t worry! Showing love and understanding to your child comes first and foremost. Honoring who they are is the best gift you can give your child.
1. Listen to what they are asking for: Really listen to your kids. At a young age, they intuitively know what they need to feel good. For example, my son has always been very vocal about what he doesn’t want to do and one of those things was going to concerts, festivals – basically anything with a crowd. He hates crowds. Even though I’m an HSP, it was my instinct to say, “It’s fine! You’ll have fun. We’re going anyway.” I have since learned that he was suffering in those situations and I’m now much more sensitive to listening to his needs.
We often force our kids to do things despite their protests (Use your judgement, of course – if your kids is covered in poop and resisting a bath, by all means…) Another example: My son needs A LOT of downtime and for a while, his need for downtime was inconvenient for the rest of us and what we had going on for the day. Again, as someone who also needs a lot of downtime, I still had the thought: “What is wrong with him?” (THIS IS HOW CULTURALLY CONDITIONED WE ARE TO THINKING THIS IS A STRANGE THING.) However, I’ve realized that without it, he’s a mess. And by the way: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH A CHILD WHO WANTS TO SPEND QUIET TIME ALONE, so don’t worry! This is how they replenish their energy. The hardest part about meeting a child’s needs is when it disrupts the schedule of a busy family, so be gentle with yourself. Read my caveat above: You will never be able to meet their needs 100% of the time.
2. Prepare for transition time: Transitions (even one as simple as leaving the house to go somewhere) can be HARD on HSP’s. I give my kids lots of advance notice about what we’re going to do that day, as well as “30-minute warning!” and again “5-minute warning!”
3. Protect their sleep and feed them regularly: I was HIGHLY structured with sleep time (as much as I could be) when my kids were little because I also needed the structure. HSP kids can have trouble sleeping so this can be challenging, (Apparently, I never slept as a child) but as much as possible, be fairly structured around sleep time, and start removing stimulation before bed so their minds have time to calm down before sleep. A bath or shower before bed does wonders because of the energy-clearing effects of water. As for food, we have the tendency to get “hangry” so regular meals are essential.
4. Don’t worry if they don’t want to be very “out” in the world: We have a very “extroverted” society and in some ways, we expect everyone to be super psyched to always be doing stuff out in the world with people, etc. – not all HSP’s are introverts, but a lot of them are. Again, nothing is wrong with this!
5. Regarding trying new things: My son had a huge aversion to trying new things until a couple of years ago. Sometimes they do need a gentle push. Anxiety of the unknown is rather a big deal with HSP’s – we like to know what we’re walking into when it comes to new situations so we can protect ourselves – so at times, a gentle nudge or dipping a toe in the water is a good idea. I’m constantly saying, “If you hate it, you don’t have to go back” and most of the time, they end up loving it and staying. Take the pressure off at the beginning so they feel they have choices, and let them have some time to get used to the new situation.
6. Make room for their feelings: As parents, we often want to protect our kids from feeling intense emotions. Me too! It is natural instinct to want to protect our children from suffering. This means you love them! However, sensitive children need room to process their feelings. If you can look at their feelings as storms that needed to pass, rather than something to be solved and fixed, it will serve them tremendously! Tears are a therapeutic.
Finally – in addition to experiencing lots of joy, being a highly sensitive kid can be really, freaking hard. I can tell you that firsthand. You feel like you don’t fit it in, you are totally aware of everything around you – sensing everything and feeling things very deeply that you often don’t understand – and you don’t yet have the vocabulary or self-awareness to figure it all out and make sense of it.
Plus, people around you are often responding to you in a way that doesn’t validate what you are experiencing. So on top of all that, you are also getting messages from those around you that perhaps what you are experiencing is wrong and that you are wrong. It can feel scary and isolating. I’m writing this not to scare you, but so you have a sense of what it’s like to be a highly sensitive child. It’s not a cake walk and sometimes it can help to imagine what it’s like to walk in their shoes.
I also get how alien and strange we must seem to my amazing non-HSP counterparts out there. It’s incredibly difficult to understand an HSP if you are the opposite. So I write this with love, if you aren’t an HSP. I hope this helps you get into the mind of an HSP so you can have some understanding of what it’s like.
I hear all the time that people don’t think that being an HSP or being an “empath” is a real thing. It is. VERY REAL. And it can be totally awesome, by the way! We are AWESOME. Sensitivity is a gift and doesn’t mean that we are weak. We are BADASSES!
As for language that I would like to see disappear from our world:
“You’re so sensitive!”
“You’re too sensitive!”
“You’re too emotional.”
“Why can’t you let that roll off your back?”
“You should get a thicker skin.”
“Why do you let things get to you so much?”
I’m sure there are others but they aren’t coming to me right now!
So just a reminder to PLEASE SHARE THIS POST! Help me spread awareness so we can support our Highly Sensitive Badass Kids.
To set up your complimentary 30-minute parent support call: Schedule your session here.
If anyone needs more help with this, please message me, comment below or visit my website at: http://cortneychaite.com
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