A highly sensitive child is one of the fifteen to twenty per cent of children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. This makes them quick to grasp subtle changes, prefer to reflect deeply before acting, and generally behave conscientiously. Highly sensitive children are wired to experience their feelings and experiences more deeply. They are not “overreacting” on purpose. They are also easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation, sudden changes, and the emotional distress of others.
HS kids can be very inflexible. They come up with rigid rules to organise a world that can feel very overwhelming.
HS kids are amazing and also exhausting. Their outsized reactions can be very triggering and hard for parents to understand and manage.
If your child is highly sensitive they could display it in numerous ways:
- Easily upset and overwhelmed
- Deeply hurt by what appears to be minor issues
- Reluctant to join in, i.e. kindergarten, swimming lessons or sports
- Complaining of subtleties, i.e. strong smells, textured food or loud noises
- Highly aware and concerned when others are sad
- Noticing EVERYTHING in the environment including subtle changes
- Needing to know details and plans
- Easily distressed when reprimanded
- Cautious when leaving your side
It represents a strategy of taking everything into account before acting (the other, which we see a lot with children is to act quickly and be first, then think later). The trait serves an important purpose for the individual sensitive person and for the larger society–for example, sensitive persons sense danger and see the consequences of an action before others do.
These are a few ways to know if a child is highly sensitive, but not always accurate for a given child. Another way to know is to come and see us at CCH and read more about the trait and decide for yourself.
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