Highly sensitive children often need more space and time to manage in the world. Just take a moment to think about the average family home and how crowded with noise it can be – rowdy radios, oversized TV screens, shoot ‘em up game consoles, confusing adult conversations, beep-beeping mobile phones, toy trucks and trains and so on.
All those sounds and lights become overwhelming for the average adult after enough time, but imagine how it must feel for the sensitive child or baby.
It probably feels like being crammed into a small elevator with too many other people all chatting – claustrophobic and un-nerving.
In such situations emotions begin to bubble up but have to be suppressed. Now imagine how it feels if even just half the people in that overcrowded elevator got out – there’s immediately more ease, more space to breathe and less chance of an emotional reaction.
But take a moment to imagine too what it would be like to have to live in that elevator all the time.
Every day, every interaction, all the time, everywhere.
High levels of sensitivity are not uncommon.
Scientists and child psychologists estimate as many as 20% of children are learning to manage with high levels of sensitivity. Some even describe this percentage as too high to be considered ‘abnormal’.
And even if your child doesn’t fit into the ‘high’ range, it is still helpful to take the time to consider some simple changes that could improve your child’s ability to cope with life and enhance their emotional wellbeing.
Support your child to create cooperation
Taking the necessary steps to create and maintain a supportive environment for each individual can teach all family members some priceless life skills.
Consideration, empathy, working together for common purpose, making adjustments for others, forgiveness and acceptance are all interpersonal skills that will assist your child to be a vital and dynamic member of the global community.
Teaching our children to have an attitude of team work will help out every family situation... “We’re in this together. What can I contribute that will move us toward our objective?”. This kinf of attitude helps me when I am starting to get trapped in the ‘him verses me’ spiral with my son, such as when I am desperately trying to leave the house on time and battling to feed and dress him while he is deeply focused on building his train empire.
Cooperation is the vital ingredient for both of us getting what we need from these types of situations. Respect is another – respecting him and his needs as equal to my own.
Highly sensitive children will need even more tenderness and consideration at these times.
Slowing down and going at their pace might seem to require too much compromise from yourself but ultimately it is the only way to allow the child to have an experience that is not disempowering to them.
Highly sensitive children are sometimes very difficult to shift from one activity to another. They require much more support through the transition than other children. Transition times are often when upsets occur, emotions overwhelm and a child will act out as a result.
Barking orders at the last minute as you are trying to leave the house is unlikely to help get you out the door any faster.
It seems obvious now perhaps that trying to do this quickly and in a stressed state will only create more obstacles and less cooperation from your littlies and create inevitable triggers to upset a sensitive child. Give your highly sensitive child plenty of verbal notice and encouragement (as well as practical support) well before ending an activity, leaving the playground or departing the house.
This will ensure they have the necessary time to prepare themselves mentally and emotionally and are able to cooperate with you.
Slowing down to their pace might seem like you’ve lost the battle. But offering more compassion to your children will not be a choice you ever regret.
At times of intense frustration you might be tempted to think the child is just behaving badly. Remember this is very rarely true – a child who is acting out is simply asking for help to deal with a situation that has overwhelmed them. First Light Natural Health® Crisis Support© is ideal to have on hand in such situations, both for the child and the care giver.
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Flickr Creative Commons Image via Jason Wilens, Ben Francis, Maria Del Carmen Gomez, Donnie Ray Jones
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