We all have different temperaments. Some people seem to have ‘thicker skins’ than others. For them, things just seem to slide off like water off the duck's back. For those children navigating their way with ‘thinner skins’, life can seem tough-going a lot of the time.
Finding ways to support these children’s needs can be equally daunting for parents.
The challenging gift
The word sensitive comes from the Latin verb Sentire ‘to feel’ and also refers to the ability to sense or have ‘sensory’ experiences. Interestingly ‘Sentient’ also comes from the Latin Sentire - a Sentient being is one who perceives and responds to sensations of any type - sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell.
From this, we can understand that a so-called sensitive child is one who experiences a large amount of sensory information. Their nervous systems are under pressure from downloading, receiving and processing large amounts of data.
This heightened or overloaded nervous system can be difficult to learn to manage, especially for younger children who are also still learning appropriate and healthy emotional behaviour. What a potent mixture for a child to experience and for parents to help them negotiate.
Here are some ideas intended to assist parents and families navigating their way through this situation
- Get to know your local reserves and beaches. Nature will be your child’s best friend. Spending time outdoors helps calm the nervous system and brain activity. Don’t be tempted to always be engaged in an activity such as sports – simply be outside and let your child explore the bush or beach freely without any set structure to the play. As often as you can ‘go wild’ – get out into the fabulous green bush for a family walk.
- Cuddle. Regularly. A 20-second hug stimulates the ‘feel good’ hormones such as oxytocin which in turn calms and settles the nervous system. Plus the physical contact will actually help your child's nervous system to kinetically process and filter sensory information, so this is a great way of creating a ‘buffer zone’ for your child when you are out and about in potentially overwhelming situations.
- Do your research and personalise your child’s diet. The gut-brain connection is becoming more and more understood, and especially the influence of modern processed diets on mood. There will be a certain amount of trial and error required so be patient. Seek help from a medical or allied health provider.
- Learn improved ways to manage your own stress and mood. Do this so you can be a good example for your children. Also, understand that the environment you create with your behaviours and actions directly affects your young children and will have the most impact on the sensitive child.
- Flower essences are subtle and a perfectly suited natural means to assist the sensitive child. The gentle energetic support flower essences provide are a great tonic and ally for adults and children in this fast-paced world.
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Flickr Creative Commons Image via Jay, Vladimir Pustovit, ann_jutatip.
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