Highly sensitive children, crystal children, indigo children, rainbow children, lightworker children, new age children.. They’ve been called all kinds of names over the years. There are theories about them in the spiritual community, and theories about them in the psychological community. One thing that everyone agrees on, whether you resonate with the spiritual aspect or not, is that there are noticeable differences that distinguish these children from other kids. Parents are seeing it, more and more teachers are seeing it, psychologists are seeing it. More and more we are seeing therapists pop up that specify in “HSP coaching” which is very encouraging, and long overdue.
Parents of highly sensitive children, are ironically often highly sensitive to criticism on their children, because often they too are highly sensitive! It is after all hereditary. We are especially sensitive, as parents in general really, this isn’t limited to HSP, when it comes from people close to us. We don’t want to be judged or looked at as that parent that lets their kid “walk over them”. That parent that gives their kids other food when they freak out because they didn’t want to eat the food that was being served. We don’t want to be the parents of the kid that is screaming for no apparent reason. We don’t want to be the parent that is being judged because their three year old still has a pacifier. We don’t want to be that parent whose kid refuses to hug a relative goodbye. But the thing is none of that matters and none of that should matter. Parents shouldn’t have to worry about what other parents think. We shouldn’t have to worry about how high we score on the “good parent” scale that other parents have, our only worry should be, are we scoring high on our kid’s scale, are they seeing us and thinking “you are meeting my needs, you are really hearing me and seeing me”.
Parents should stop judging other parents because you don’t know what’s going on with someone else’s child. Maybe the reason that child won’t eat the food is because of sensory reasons. It just cannot handle the texture of the food. Maybe the child is screaming because it’s overstimulated by noise and overwhelmed. Maybe the child is extremely uncomfortable about hugging people, even people he or she is close to because it is simply too much to take in at the time. They are simply processing too much too quickly. They can not do it without overloading. Maybe the child still has a pacifier at age 3 or 4 because if he or she wouldn’t have a pacifier in public places the child would just scream so it might not be the perfect solution, but for a mom who is all frazzled and trying to cope with managing her highly sensitive child this might just be the one thing that gives her a little bit of relief.
Today I want to talk to you about high sensitivity also known by its scientific name sensory processing sensitivity. You can look this up online. You will find several studies talking about this. People with high sensitivity or sensory processing sensitivity have different brains. Their brains don’t work the same way. They are the children that will freak out in the store because it is too loud for them when nobody else seems to be bothered. They are the children that will freak out when their food looks too messy and they will refuse to eat it even though they are starving, simply because their brains cannot deal with the texture. These are the children that might behave in school all day long because they don’t want to upset anyone, because sensitive as they are, they wouldn’t want to inconvenience people when they can avoid it, and because they just want to fit in. And they will come home and take it all out on their family. They will scream and roll on the ground and let it all out because that is the one place where they feel safe and accepted. I was that kid. I graduated as a teacher in 2008, and not one professor or teacher uttered the words high sensitivity or highly sensitive people or sensory processing sensitivity during the 3 year course of the education. We learned all about autism, we learned all about ADHD, we learned all about most common behavioral disorders or developmental disorders that occur in early childhood. We learned or read or heard nothing about high sensitivity. Right now 10 to 15% of all people are born with sensory processing sensitivity. That is a high percentage. Too high to be ignored. it is not being taken seriously enough.
So it’s for children like myself, children like my own daughter, children who other people often labeled as bratty, shy, antisocial, whiny, scared, picky eaters, and so on. It’s for those children that I am writing. Instead of quickly labeling them and putting them in time out so you don’t have to deal with their emotions because it’s more convenient for you, the adult. Try going about it the hard way. Try really seeing them, try really hearing them and then you will see the beautiful aspects of high sensitivity. Because there are so many of them. These children are highly empathic and are highly attuned to body language and facial expressions and subtle things that most children and adults don’t even pick up on. They are highly advanced emotionally and compassionate for their age and will often have conversations with you that you don’t expect them to have at their young age. They are highly intuitive and highly creative and artistic. A lot of your favorite music, a lot of your favorite movies, a lot of your favorite authors and books are created by highly sensitive people! A lot of nurses, doctors people that deal with people, that extremely compassionate teacher that you had in elementary school that you still remember to this day.. Is most likely a highly sensitive person! So before you try lumping all children together in one big group, try really encouraging and accepting them for who they are. Don’t try to change your highly sensitive child. Don’t judge them for being different and not being like the majority of the kids in their class. They are the 10 to 15% whose brains are literally wired differently. If you do some Googling and Google Dr. Elaine Aron and the term sensory processing sensitivity and fMRI scans you will find sufficient results supporting what I have just told you.
So for all you moms and dads out there who are wanting to hear your child, wanting to really listen and have a dialogue that goes both ways that doesn’t include time out but that includes time ins, communication, listening, talking about feelings, really talking about feelings and actually listening to their feelings, listening to the crying and not just putting them in a room somewhere to cry. To those moms and dads, you are the ones that are raising the next generation.