How to Raise Highly Sensitive Children

The phenomenon of highly sensitive children is quite common nowadays, estimated at approximately 20% of all children.

What are the signs your child is one of them, what works with helping highly seinsitive child and what doesn't?

Before you start to worry, your kid is very normal, with a slightly more catchy nervous system than others.

Try to recognize the signs early and learn about what makes them happy to help them become healthy adults.
Being highly sensitive isn’t a personality disorder, it simply means these kids feel things deeper than other kids because of their differently wired nervous system.

It is not too hard to recognize them, as they are very charming, highly empathetic, feeling what others feel easily, creative, fast learners, and clever.

They are quite genuine kids, not wanting to fake their feelings and are quick to express them.

Hence they can sometimes seem a bit different, too needy, too shy or too different from other kids. 

Often their family members, caretakers, or teachers have no idea how to work highly sensitive children out, treat them, and what to do to make them happy, as they can differ from the majority a great deal.

Therefore these children can often feel isolated, not being understood, and withdraw from socialising, enjoying their time alone.

Every time they strongly sense something, they become hypervigilant with a strong need to express how they feel, and what hurts them.

How do highly sensitive children behave?

1. Feeling more emotions than other kids

Since they process information quite deeply, they are quick to recognize subtle changes or unusual things, making them over-sensitive.

These include sudden or loud noise, big crowds, strong smells and tastes, clothes that are uncomfortable since their skin can be sensitive too.

The younger the child the less patient they can be, seeking understanding by throwing tantrums that are usually not taken well by their parents or relatives. 

2. Having a deep empathy that over-stimulates them

These kids easily sense and take on the emotions of others, being emotional sponges can quickly make them tired.

Hence they need more alone time and rest to recharge their batteries. 

3. Processing information more thoroughly

When they process information, they kind of need to feel the details more than others, so they can observe something a bit longer, more deeply.

Their intuition and creativity develop and strive in this process, making them quite psychic.

Another reason why the majority do not fully get them.

4. Too much of anything can be too much for them

A busy schedule, too much information, and emotions can make them lose their cool.

When you take the child for a bit too long of a trip, a big birthday party, a crowded theme park, and so on, they can suddenly lose their temper.

It can be too overwhelming for them.

What makes them different

Highly sensitive children, therefore, process more, feel more and ponder more than the other kids, so they need to be allowed more space.

They prefer predictability over spontaneity or too much uncertainty; they tend to worry before a vacation, a sleepover, family gatherings, or the start of a new school year. 

What stands out in these kids is their way of processing information.

When they see something new, their memory pauses and searches to identify possible similarities and big differences from the past.

Their brains probably store new information differently as well.

As any new experience moves more nerves, they get overwhelmed by too many new sensory experiences.

They can even worry about getting overwhelmed.

As they think very maturely, they can play ahead of a full scenario of an event, before it is happening and think of ways to avoid risks.

They are conscientious to a fault, often a perfectionist.

Because they can be overly self-conscious, failing at an exam, giving a public speech, completing challenging assignments, competing with their peers, being easily excitable and overwhelmed, can make them perform below their level, and feel like a failure.

What can you do to help them?

These kids can internalize a lasting and deeply damaging sense of shame, feeling they are inadequate compared to their siblings and peers.

Family members, teachers, and adult people close to them must do their best to ensure their healthy development.

Here are some tips:

1. Appreciate the child

Value their authentic and rich inner world, even if it is very different from your own, and you don’t fully understand.

Be compassionate and know that they don’t fake tantrums, their frustration is real.

They don’t do it because they want to manipulate you, or get attention.

Show understanding and acceptance; you could say, I know it hurts baby, but you are so good at overcoming problems.

Praise the positive side of their behaviour. 

2. Approve of the child

They will sooner or later realise that they are very different from others.

Strengthen their beliefs that they are okay the way they are, and amazing, against all the odds.

When they face challenges, help them overcome their self-doubt by ingraining thoughts of success in their mind.

Always be supportive of them.

Offer them a more realistic viewpoint and approach, if needed.

Acknowledge their shameful thoughts and disappointments, and remind them instead of the similar things they have done well.

If they haven't done well in a similar area, then praise them for their accomplishment in something else. Stay authentic. 

3. Support and encourage the child

Encourage them to take more risks, and trust the outcome.

These kids need to go slower than other kids with plenty of encouragement in anything they want to achieve.

Build their faith in themselves and the world.

It is important to allow their own space, so try not to push them beyond what they feel uncomfortable with.

They build positive memories from doing well in similar previous situations.

Never push them over their limits, be gentle and patient, not to discourage them.

4. Give them space

Rest from a busy routine is good for them, give them a little retreat now and then to refill their little cup.

Do so after any intense experience.

After completing a task with an infant, give them a little retreat of nap time, or bath time, along with reading a nice fairy tale.

With an elementary school child, after running errands you can sit together in the garden, go for a walk, watch a movie together, or just let them be alone in their room. 

Stay positive always, don’t worry about whether your child is different from you or other kids.

Assure them of their gifts often, and help them see the great future ahead of them, that they have every capacity of achieving.

This will make them happy and help them be healthy adults.

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