This is a page on another of my blogs that had been the motivation for part of this whole blog. I have a highly sensitive daughter who had been diagnosed with selective mutism, generalized anxiety and separation anxiety, and she is basically on sensory overload. On the positive side, she is highly intuitive, very inquisitive, and very bright.
These are the first thoughts I was expressing on the subject of how to handle my daughter and the feelings that I had about it. I know I’m highly sensitive myself, and though you’d figure that would make me much more empathetic (and it did), what it also meant was that I was very emotionally invested in my daughter’s state of mind. That always made it harder to cope with, because I had my own feelings to contend with as well.
Anyway, so here are my early thoughts on my highly sensitive child:
(Please note that dd1 – oldest dear daughter, dd2 – middle dear daughter, dd3 – youngest dear daughter)
I’m determined to know my kids better than my mom cared to know me and my siblings. So I’m studying personality informally. It’s partly because I have children like me, bright and sensitive, but since I didn’t have great coping skills, I didn’t have any idea how to teach them good self-calming skills. I learned about emotional self-regulation in my human development class, and how children as they grow they are supposed to learn to self-regulate and self-soothe. I had no idea that this wasn’t an inevitable part of cognitive maturation. For dd1, it was pretty effortless. She just always was pretty even keel. Just like her father, who my mother-in-law always said he was “37 on the day he was born”.
I had subscribed to Attachment Parenting for my infants. It is the only method of parenting an infant that made intuitive sense to me. A baby cried, you met the baby’s need. End of story.
AP for infants worked really well, but it wasn’t until dd2 was at preschool age that I realized AP isn’t enough. But as my dd2 got to preschool age (about 3-4), I needed to find other answers because there was something going on with her that I didn’t understand at the time. And simply sticking her in preschool (which I did when she was 4) wasn’t the answer that everyone said it would be. But it was in that setting that really made me understand who my dd2 was. I didn’t understand why the endless meltdowns over seemingly benign things. But when I observed her in class and how she behaved while there, I really saw a child totally different from the child I had at home. I’ll tell the story of that observation eventually, I just don’t have the time to go into it here.
For a while I was going down the wrong track, thinking something was “wrong” with her (I thought maybe she had Asperger’s or some other social development/personality disorder), and it was creating a really destructive dynamic (because sometimes I mistakenly thought she was just being stubborn on purpose, or people like my family would just try to pass judgment – as in, “see what happens when you don’t put that baby down?”). Until I dug a lot deeper, got the books The Highly Sensitive Child by Elain Aron (check out the link to for a quiz about highly sensitive children) and The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.. I realized she was an introverted HSC with very few coping/self-soothing skills. She’s one that needs to be taught, and I’m the one to have to teach her them. Only, my mom never taught me how special my gifts were, or the challenges that went with being an introverted HSC (and of course at the time, it wasn’t even in possible to know much about parenting aside from word of mouth techiques), she just spent my childhood and early adulthood trivializing my whole experience.
Other books on my bookshelf waiting to be read completely are Dealing with Disappointment by Elizabeth Crary (something my sensitive child really struggles with) and Kids, Parents and Power Struggles also by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka that has techniques to bring down the intensity (among other things). I hope to take some notes and post them to serve as reminders for me and hopefully to help others who might come across this blog.
It’s been a very long journey, and I have a way to go to help dd2. But she is much better than she has been in a long time. And I respect her feelings a lot more than I used to (even though I really need to invest in earplugs, because sometimes she’s unhappy and I’m not in a very receptive mood for her expressions of unhappiness).
Anyway, this is for me, the greatest blessing I’ve gotten from quitting my job and trying to work harder at understanding my children. I’m becoming really in awe of who they are because I’m not trying to force them into something they are not. And I have the luxury of time to do be able to do that.
I know I sometimes forget the simple things like self-care and taking time to figure out what it is that restores me (and I’m finding out that it’s not a job at the moment, but it is being creative, and having a sense of direction, and most recently, I have an outlet for all my wayward thoughts in this blog). My family still influences how I feel about myself, particularly because they still don’t get it. They still don’t understand who I am and why I choose to do things differently (and why I value people over things). They don’t have a complex inner world that totally consumes them at times like I do. They think rather narrowly, and it has put me totally in another dimension from them. I don’t ever want my kids to have to deal with the same things I deal with, and since I know better, I can do better than my family did.
Fortunately, my kids are like me. I get them and they will always have that support I didn’t get. Because I’m taking the time to find out about them, learning as I go, but getting closer to the answers every day. Not just answers about who they are, but also about who I am. It’s absolutely wonderful!
From a mothering.com forum post I wrote
I truly, truly believe that the typical “experts” (school professionals, pediatricians, even my state-run early intervention program) don’t know much about giftedness and high sensitivities and the emotional/intellectual needs of gifted children. And so they send you off down the wrong path, sometimes claiming that your child needs more discipline and you should take some parenting classes.
No, more UNDERSTANDING is what they need. The average “professional” doesn’t have time to do a full temperamental workup of your child, just dispense the typical nonsense and say it’s a lack of proper parenting (especially of the generic kind of parenting that doesn’t take into account the individual – the one size fits most style that really doesn’t address child-specific issues).
It’s so, so NOT! What it may be is a bit of a lack of understanding, but definitely not improper parenting.
I was on the wrong path with DD2 for a while. I thought the problem was with her, and it’s not (not completely anyway). She has extreme introversion and she’s highly sensitive, which can appear as Sensory Integration Disorder, but only in the sense that the information coming in is being received too well, not that the information is coming in garbled.
If I haven’t mentioned them, the books, The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child and the Highly Sensitive Child both discuss issues that seem like SID. When you are introverted, you are highly tuned in to your experiences, so you feel things more strongly (not just through your senses, but emotions are stronger too). Same thing with being Highly Sensitive. In fact, there is overlap.
But the issue I have the most trouble with is teaching my child coping skills. I didn’t really learn effective ones, or at least effective enough where I can easily translate them into what she needs to do to cope with certain stimuli. I find it difficult to cope with my sensitivities in order to help her with hers. This is important because when my kids are clamoring about (especially when they fight), I find it so, so difficult to not snap at them to knock it off. Not that this is what you face at all, just saying these sensitivities can be a pretty permanent part of the personality, and what is needed is the right coping skills. And in my case, a good pair of earplugs.
As I am finding out, once you address the needs of the child, some of the other troubling issues fade into the background.
Did I mention dd2 also has extreme introversion? She goes to preschool for 2 hours a day twice a week. She has been going for 5 months now. I’m not sure yet if she’s said anything verbally at school. Maybe a few words, but mostly she watches what goes on. She doesn’t sing or dance when the other kids are supposed to, but she knows her name and can write it, she can identify shapes and colors (not verbally, but by choosing the right color crayon for the shapes they ask her to color). I’m slightly concerned about that, but the ironic thing about her is that she won’t stop talking at home. In fact, since she’s very comfortable around our neighbor’s son, she shocked one of the other teachers today when my neighbor went to pick her up for me (the two other kids are sick). As soon as they brought her to the car and she gets in, she starts chatting up a storm with the boy. The teacher really looked amazed to hear her voice. This teacher, while not my daughter’s teacher, does share the same room and the activities between the two teacher’s are sometimes combined. So this teacher sees her every time she goes to preschool. And it’s 5 months later and she apparently still barely talks. I’m thinking it’s time for another visit to the school to observe and this time really talk with them about her. The last time I observed, I was shocked that my dd watched carefully and listened, but didn’t really talk or sing.
I know enough about introversion and being highly sensitive that I’m not even going to try to make her something she’s not, but I want to find out if there is anything I can do to help her a bit to open up more. I know that the preschool she’s at is very accommodating, and very understanding of her. But in the future, will all of her teachers be sympathetic? I don’t know and I really worry about that. I know she’s bright and won’t have problems on any written test. But when it comes time to do any kind of public speaking in class, she won’t be able to do that. I want to help her if at all possible now, when it doesn’t count, so that when it does count, she’ll be able to do it then. I know, so much can change as she grows and she’s only 4, but I thought for sure after a few months of preschool, she would have wanted to have more fun by singing and dancing and being silly – things she loves to do at home. I just have this feeling that this is who she is and we’ll have to work around that. If anyone would need to be homeschooled, it wouldn’t surprise me if turns out to be her.
I’m working on going through the multitude of books I have, and starting to take notes on them on the computer (so there is no way I can misplace them).
I have started with Kids, Parents and Power Struggles, because I need immediate tools in my tool box to help keep me connected to my 4 year old while I help teach her to regulate her emotions. I never would have thought I had to work so hard to teach her. I thought it was something that would come out of parenting her the way I parented my 6 year old. But their personalities are slightly different. My 6 year old really is more mature beyond her years and always has been. Even though she started out really fussy, active and alert, she really did mellow out over time. My 4 year old, not so much.
What typically works for dd1, and dd3, just doesn’t for dd2. So I’m having to really research behavior. Even though I’m sensitive myself, trying to teach her things I’m just understanding now is really difficult. I understand her, but I’m not always helping her in the right way (sometimes simply because I don’t plan very well, or get frustrated too soon, and other times because I have 2 other children I have to juggle).
But the good thing about KPP, they really teach emotional intelligence. How to recognize emotions in yourself as well as your child and how to teach kids how to handle the negative ones appropriately. I’m excited about that. Maybe I’ll be able to share a bit of what I’m learning later too.
It’s been a pretty rough few days, with dd2 being easily upset lately. We go through spurts of good days and then bad days all in a row. I’m not sure why that is, but it has been this way for a while. With it being cold and snowy or rainy here, and the kids sick for the past 2 months off and on, I know not having an outlet for burning off some energy has been making things difficult. I can not wait until Spring comes.
It looks like I may have to look into another series of books. I came across an unschooling dad’s blog called The Parenting Pit and author of the blog (Arun) describes in a well written article called Solutions are Not the Solution Aletha J. Solter’s “Aware Parenting” philosophy.
Aware parents accept the entire range of emotions and listen non-judgmentally to children’s expressions of feelings. They realize that they cannot prevent all sadness, anger, or frustration, and they do not attempt to stop children from releasing painful feelings through crying or raging.
Through trial and error, I have to say the single most effective tool in my toolbox with my sensitive dd is slowing down and listening with empathy, of sitting with her as she expresses her feelings, of acknowledging and reflecting her feelings, of resisting the urge to stop her tears, or move her past the anger or hurt or frustration she feels and just accept her expressing her painful feelings.
Now, WHEN I remember to do that, life goes so much smoother for both of us, and she bounces back more readily than if I try to eclipse her feelings with a cold, unfeeling, grouchy response of my own.
Somehow I need to study this concept, drill it into my head, because sometimes I just forget to do this simple, unconditional act of just really listening and not trying to fix it (which honestly is more for my sanity than for hers).
I have had gotten the idea to look into something called Selective Mutism (you can read why here).
I don’t know how all this will play out. I also don’t know where I will be writing about this. I do know I will need to, and I do know we will start the evaluation process in early April.
I’ll still leave this information here, as I know some have already started reading this thread. I want to leave it out for anyone who comes across this blog in the future.
And yes, I’ve made some statements here that turned out to be partially wrong. Some of the things that my daughter has can be better explained by SPD. That there is something “wrong” in the way she processes information. But by strictly trying to diagnose her myself, I was missing some of the really subtle (in her case) clues that indicate she does indeed have needs that go beyond simple introversion and being highly sensitive.
June 17,2009 I wrote this post about our sensitive girls and how it manifested itself in them:
Highly Sensitive Children – Our Story
Well, if you hadn’t guessed already my extremely introverted, highly sensitive middle daughter did indeed have selective mutism. I wrote a tab at the top of this blog documenting the summary of her SM journey from being completely mute to fully speaking within the classroom in a span of about 18 months. She is now a kindergartner and is doing remarkably well. She loves her classroom, her friends and her teacher and is very confidently speaking now.
What a blessing to find your site! I have enjoyed reading every word. I have two wonderful, interesting, energetic, bright little girls ages 7 and 5. They bring so much joy to life and a lot of worries and challenges! My oldest is in gifted 1st grade class. My youngest is in regular K class. She was within gifted range on non verbal and qualified academically for program but her resistance to language kept her back. She’s a child who uses the least amount of words to get her point across. She speaks in bullets really. On top of it all she’s so intense and emotional from it. Woah.
I’m glad you dropped by and commented. Sometimes it’s hard to know if anything I write about helps anyone but me. It’s really nice to know that others feel some comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in how they support their children. It’s tough knowing what to do to keep the give the right amount of support without sheltering them too much or pushing them too much beyond their capacities.
Anyway, welcome and I will check out your blog more later. Have to get my oldest to a birthday party today.
Wow, it is amazing to read your blog!! We seem to have such a similar life. I also have 3 sweet children, the oldest a boy and two younger sisters. The oldest is my HSC, highly gifted, introverted, and Selectively Mute sweetheart. If I had only known 3 years ago what I do know, my how different things could be for him now. He is 5 and in K, (he is the youngest out of 65 in his class due to a summer bday). He is working with a psychiatrist, psychologist, speech and will be starting OT next week. I would lay down my life for him, but I just can’t get him through this very difficult time he is going through. He has only spoken a couple of words at school this year, but stopped because the other kids shout “he talked!!”, when he tries. He has some OCD traits, (but who doesn’t). I have always met resistance with finding help with his giftedness, and no one seems to get him like I do. Yes we too are very similar. Just wondering, does you daughter talk at school now? Amy
Amy – yes she does. This is what we found out has helped my daughter the most:
We managed to have a great team at her special needs preschool and combined with the extra things we did outside of school helped tremendously (the ballet, yoga, informal SPD therapies). What helped was that the school did their homework and actually went to a seminar on selective mutism to help her expand her comfort zone.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for sharing your experience with selective mutism. My 4 year old boy has been making tremendous progress since we started informing ourselves a few months ago. His teacher is also open-minded and patient and has read our documents about this anxiety disorder.
I DO very much agree about the benefits of outdoor play, making use of great playground equipment, dance, yoga… We try to go to the pool every week, we even eat at McDonalds (bleah!) just for their great play area.
A lot of the info about selective mutism is about encouraging communication but I believe it is just as important to build confidence and self-esteem in other areas, like in sports and arts.
Good luck, and thanks,
Thanks Cathy. Good luck to you and your son too. It’s so good that you have found out about it early as well. I really believe that early intervention is critical for children with SM. 🙂
Thank you so much! I love your site. It inspired me to start my own blog last week. I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know that your blog is very helpful. I’m going to order a few of the books you suggested to help my 2 1/2 year old who is highly sensitive. I just wished that I would have started looking into all this early, but I guess, better late than never.
Greetings and Happy New Year!
I just found your blog with a search on Dabrowski’s TPD, and I’m glad I found you! I was an HSC (still am, in many ways, tho’ I somehow got to my 40s – when did *that* happen? ;), who was bounced around through the gifted programs in public schools in the 1970s… and subsequently bounced out, after being too much to handle.
I still am handful, in many ways, tho’ I’ve found outlets for my iconoclastic impulses in cutting-edge technology and the arts. I seem to be surrounded by OE folks in my adult life, which is comforting.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to raise smart girls — certainly it’s no small task! And I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to survive as a smart woman — again, a challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge.
I look forward to reading more of what you have to say with regard to raising smart girls. And I’m glad you’re making the effort to figure out how to do it better than you felt it was done in the past. Your daughters are very fortunate to have you as a mom!
Thanks for stopping by and commenting on the blog. I took a look around your blog and saw that you have some great art there. I see that you plan to learn all you can about Dabrowski. That’s really cool. I am trying to dig up a link you might find really useful…
I’ll post it here and on your blog post about Dabrowski on your blog too.
Yeah, you’ll find there’s a lot of recent stuff about my own issues, I hope to get back to talking about my girls. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what you do read.
Have a Happy and Healthy 2010!
Here it is…a 450 page pdf file about the 2008 Dabrowski Congress Proceedings. It’s just a little light reading for you. 🙂
The Eighth International Congress of the Institute
for Positive Disintegration in Human Development
Click to access 2008%20Proceedingsf2b.pdf
Thanks very much for that. Looks like I’ve got my reading cut out for me in 2010!
You’re very welcome. It’s quite an interesting body of work.
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Both my daughter – 3, and possibly my son-1 are highly sensitive kids. I felt so powerless when they cry over everything and over trivial stuff. I thought it was just a phase but looking back, my daughter has always been that way since she was born. I notice that my son exhibits similar behaviors as my daughter. My daughter cries when her closet door is not shut, cries because her shirt is slightly wet/damped, cries because her new blanket only has dots on one side, cries because her pants crooked, I could go on and on..She also is very intuitive and bright but easily stimulated.
After many trials and error and reading a lot of books, one method that works well most of the time for us is give time to herself. For example: when she starts crying or having a meltdown, I send her to a room (not her bedroom). She can come out when she’s calmed down. She understands that it’s not a punishment because she is in control when she gets to come out (which is when she’s calmed). It’s impossible to reason with a child who is having a meltdown. You can have the talk after she’s done dealing with her emotions. I notice significant improvement in the length of her meltdowns. She still cries because it’s just part of her temperament and she needs to express her emotions somehow. Just the length is so much shorter.
Late to the party, but this is so enlightening to read.
I am just beginning to put labels to myself as I discover them for my children– this “highly sensitive” -ness, and trying to figure out how to *teach* coping skills is the thing I’m currently working on for my family. You’ll understand if you see a spike in traffic around your blog– I’m eager to learn from your discoveries.
Thanks Amy Jane…
I hope it helps. It’s all a trial and error thing. Each child is a unique little puzzle. And just when we think we’ve got them all figured out…they hit a new developmental phase, go back to school, etc…
I have to post something “new” I learned too. Halt- Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. I’ve heard this in circles of addiction recovery (not that I’m an addict. really. I just can’t remember where I heard it elsewhere recently)- but it’s a quick acronym to check for mood. If any of these things areas of need aren’t addressed in both our kids and ourselves, then we can expect to run into higher than usual sensitivities.
CG – I know I didn’t address your comment (don’t know if you are still reading the blog). I don’t advocate time-outs time away…unless the child is okay with being left alone or if I was in need of a time out then I’d step out of the room or the car until I got MYSELF back in a calm place. But even then it was rare.
My daughter could not deal with the separation. She was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder that included separation anxiety. The quickest route to make it worse for her is to leave her all alone to deal with her feelings. It’s never worked for us…though I know for others it has.
At nearly 7, helping her deal with her emotions together and helping her to identify them and giving lots of contact with hugs and time IN with me works so much faster for her. Some highly sensitive children can’t be touched. She is one that craves touch and it works the best for her.
Thanks for your thoughts and insights, our son we just found out has selective mutism 3 days ago, hes five and we align ourselves to unschooling and also have three children. It is good to find someone with this in common. I have noticed many similarities with our two daughters though they are older and are generally sensitive and a bit shy socially. It also makes me reflect on myself as I experienced this alot in my earlier years with school I think. Very helpful to read your posts and experiences.
Hello, and thank you. I’m glad that our experiences are helping others to feel a little less alone in theirs.
I hope you find information that you can use to help your son here and good luck with unschooling.
I too was a sensitive child…only, I had thought I was “crazy” because no one in my family ever took the time to understand me…they just labeled me as a problem child.
If this blog is still current, I would like to learn more about overexcitabilities/ the highly sensitive child. I have a 9yr. old dtr. Thought she was Asperger’s.
Yes, sometimes a child might be misdiagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder when they might have sensory processing issues or overexcitabilities. There IS a distinction between SPD and OE’s. Kasmirez Dabrowski’s theory that involves OE’s indicate that OE’s in a person will lead (eventually) to positive growth through a positive disintegration process – a restructuring of the belief/value system of the person as they shed the beliefs and values placed upon them by parents, teachers and society and create their own beliefs and values. And it’s a theory of development that’s not based on ages, like Piaget’s stages of development that happen at specific times. So a child could be growing at a faster rate than his peers and, in some ways, more developed (more mature) than some adults.
SPD symptoms don’t lead to growth. They just cause major difficulties.
There’s a few resources:
Here’s a brief overview of Dabrowski’s TPD:
Here is an article on OE’s from SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted):
Living With Intensity edited by Daniel Piechowski is book detailing OEs across the lifespan and some ideas to help.
Hmmm…I think that’s a start. And thanks for bringing my attention back to the OE’s because I think I need to revisit them again.
Oh, and you might want to check out
Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults:Adhd, Bipolar, Ocd, Asperger’s, Depression, And Other Disorders
here is a summary of the book in pdf format:
Click to access Dr.%20Webb%20Article.pdf
And here’s a site you might want to visit…
Eide Nuerolearning Blog
Here’s their tagline
“Weekly articles related to brain-based learning and learning styles, problem-solving and creativity, kids, families, and parenting, gifted and visual learners, dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, autism, and more.”
Great book!! I recommend it to all who are having discipline issues at home or at school. It teaches you how to raise your children how it was done 50 years ago, where children respected adults. Worth every penny, and more!
To which book are you referring? Your description sounds great, but I’m not sure which book you mean. Thanks!
EFT – For the Highly Sensitive Temperament offers more than just an effortless healing technique. I felt as I was reading, that this book could offer a very simple and effective way to bring a natural, positive, effective and powerful shift for everyone on this planet.
EFT, short for Emotional Freedom Technique, is a painless tapping on specific acupressure points. It is based on the concept of “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.” This concept is shared from the Eastern practices of how meridian lines (channels along which the energy is considered to flow.) can become blocked or stagnant, which can lead to many dis-eases. However, when this energy is running open, we feel our best. Rue Hass has devoted an entire book for just those that suffer from being `highly sensitive’ and explains how that personality type is not alone, but should be treasured for the wonderful being they truly are.
Rue immediately describes the nature of the `Highly Sensitive Temperament’, but first she opens with learning how to self-care for this type of person. Explaining how sensitive people are often from painful pasts, and these pasts are filled with very limiting and invalidating beliefs. She teaches the reader how to reconnect him or herself in a loving, positive way and one begins to feel that sense of `belonging’ in the Universe. After this, she provides the `Basic Recipe’, which is the foundation of the technique provided. She then includes the rest of the instructions as well as sample affirmations and worksheets. I say this is wonderful for everyone as so many examples are listed with just the basic recipe, and it is so simple that I am eager to start teaching my five year old son how to do this!
I for one had a very emotional time with Rue’s book. Not in a negative way, as I found much offered with the `Basic Recipe’, the tapping points and affirmations. I never realized that I myself was a `Highly Sensitive Temperament’ personality. The stories included from cases hit home with me in many different ways. I was able to see others, like me that started out feeling the way I did and suffering from some type of a debilitation. It was heart wrenching to read what they endured as children and even later in life. However, it was very uplifting and promising to see how much improvement was made after their sessions with EFT! I especially enjoyed how a small child tapped points, stated their own affirmations and lost a case of sniffles and a cough! I firmly believe that if everyone learned this effortless technique, many cycles on all forms of abuse could end. Children would no longer be the victims. They would know how to heal the hurt and pain of an action before it wounded the heart and soul.
I am also a holistic practitioner. I am not positive on how I may work this into my practice, however I will be working it into my daily life and for my family. Reading this book has truly opened my eyes, as I know how to address past issues to heal myself further. As my son seems to show signs of `High Sensitivity’, I am happy to have this tool to share with him as well. I definitely recommend this book to everyone – and anyone that would like make a positive shift in their life!
Thank you for all your posts. I am just in the process of reading Highly Sensitive Child. My daughter is 5 and when I was reading this book, I felt as though it was written about her. She has always been labeled as “Drama Queen” or “different” and now I am getting some insight into what is really her issue and what she needs from me. I felt like an awful parent b/c it has taken me 5 years to help her. We live in a small country town and my pediatrician would probably laugh in my face if I showed him this book and tell me “She will grow out of it” I am kinda stuck with no supportive help from professionals. She is due to start kindergarten in a few weeks and I am pondering do I try to explain this to her teacher or wait and see how she does first? I don’t want them to label her right off the bat. Any advice?
A little about her….. She is very high temperament, strong meltdown, does not like change at all, gets very overwhelmed with large crowds or noises. In order to enjoy a lot of things she will wear the large riffle range ear muffs. This is one thing that worries me most about school is the loudness of assemblies and just other kids having fun, I am afraid she is going to be stimulated into a panic/meltdown mode most of the time. She will not try new things, if she does it is a slow process of working her into knowing it is safe. Still will not do the play place at McD’s or at a park, she is too terrified and the look she gets it pure panic just her thinking about trying it. Thanks for listening
I would suggest reading The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, because it seems like your daughter may have some sensory processing issues. Sensory occupational therapy helps when a child is over-stimulated or under-stimulated by sensations. There are things that can be done to help, but it’s a good idea to read up about it, and talk to your daughter’s pediatrician and explain to him you think she has this and if he would recommend for you an evaluation for SPD (sensory processing disorder) and ASK him to take you seriously on this because it’s been an ongoing problem that she HASN’T outgrown. Oh, and don’t let him tell you it’s a parenting problem. It’s not.
Because you are from a small town, there may or may not be therapy available (and your insurance company may or may not pay for it). But an evaluation by a pediatric OT specializing in SPD will be able to tell you what areas need work.
If you don’t have luck with your doctor…then you kind of have to try some things on your own at home. Kranowitz’s r second book, the Out of Sync Child Has Fun, or Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder by Lucy Jane Miller has some good ideas.
If you have the support of your pediatrician, it would make it a little easier to negotiate with the school that your child has some things they might be able to provide services for. Then again, they might not have the services for SPD.
As far as school goes…try not to worry too much ahead of time. I know as parents we want to protect them from anxiety, but I think there are things you can do to help. A few days before school starts, visit the school and play in the school park. Can you contact the teacher and ask if you can visit the classroom BEFORE the first day of school? Some schools have orientation days where the kindergartners come WITH the parents the day before the actual school starts. But I’m talking about coming even a day before that…where your child can see the teacher and the classroom when there aren’t any kids there.
Your child may or may not have an easy transition. Your child may behave differently for the teacher than she does for you. You won’t really know for sure until she gets there. You can take a ‘wait and see’ attitude (and if your doctor doesn’t take your concerns seriously, then you have to wait and see). Focus more on the positive aspects of kindergarten – the art and crafts that she’ll do, the friends she’ll make, the books they will read to her.
And just keep an eye on her. If her behavior at home gets worse (even if her experience at school seems okay), then you know she’s being affected by the transition. If problems persist longer than a month, is homeschooling an option?
Best Wishes. I hope some of this helps.
Hello! I have found your blog incredibly informative and helpful to me over the last couple weeks. I have found so much comfort in everything you have shared and written regarding highly sensitive children. I have already purchased Dr. Aron’s book: Highly Sensitive Child, and I was wondering if you could recommend any other books to help me along? I know this is an old post, and you metioned a couple others that were on your shelf…have you read them? Were they at all helpful? My 12 yr old daughter is beginning to experience some depression and I’m beginning to scramble around for as many resources possible. Any help you can give me regarding books you have found useful would be so greatly appreciated!! Thank you!
I was going to do a post soon on a very promising new book:
The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate by Susan K Greenland is a wonderful tool to use to teach your child mindfulness practice to help with stress and anxiety.
From the product description on Amazon –
“Mindful awareness works by enabling you to pay closer attention to what is happening within you—your thoughts, feelings, and emotions—so you can better understand what is happening to you. The Mindful Child extends the vast benefits of mindfulness training to children from four to eighteen years old with age-appropriate exercises, songs, games, and fables that Susan Kaiser Greenland has developed over more than a decade of teaching mindful awareness to kids. These fun and friendly techniques build kids’ inner and outer awareness and attention, which positively affects their academic performance as well as their social and emotional skills, such as making friends, being compassionate and kind to others, and playing sports, while also providing tools to manage stress and to overcome specific challenges like insomnia, overeating, ADHD, hyper-perfectionism, anxiety, and chronic pain. When children take a few moments before responding to stressful situations, they allow their own healthy inner compasses to click in and guide them to become more thoughtful, resilient, and empathetic. The step-by-step process of mental training presented in The Mindful Child provides tools from which all children—and all families—will benefit. ”
I know mindfulness practice has been growing in acceptance and scientific backing. Daniel Siegel wrote about this in The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
We can’t quite emotionally keep up with all the technology and information that’s out there. We need tools to manage how much stimulation comes in. When we are flooded with information and input (both good and bad), it’s not difficult to see how it becomes next to impossible to assimilate it all. Anxiety is a common response.
Thank you so much for your reply!! This book sounds like exactly what I need! I have just ordered it on my Nook. I’m so glad I’ve found you and your blog. Thanks again.
You’re very welcome, Christina. I hope it works out well for her.
Aw, this was a really nice article.
OK – all the books you mentioned are now on my wishlist :). What really resonated for me is your comment that your child needs more understanding, not more discipline. So true. I am so tired of explaining to people that my daughter CAN’T regulate as well as other children. Punishing her for her outbursts is like beating a dyslexic child for not reading well. It won’t do any good because the child needs tools – she’s already motivated to do well, all children want to do well.
I’m so glad this resonated with you. It can be a lonely, uphill battle trying to stick to your instincts on how you raise your child in the face of criticism.
Use your child as a gauge, when they have outbursts, they are communicating a need or a frustration. Depending on their age they may not initially be able to identify and articulate exactly what they need or are frustrated about, but they have something that they are trying to tell you about. Your sensitivity and empathy come into play and you need to help them recognize the signals their bodies give them, which are guides telling THEM something is amiss. It’s your role to help them figure out how best to identify and articulate before they get to the boiling point.
Taking emotional responses to the most basic level…children (and adults) either give responses based in a feeling of love, or a feeling of fear.
All positive emotions are derivations of love.
All negative emotions are derivations of fear.
Love promotes, security, connection and cooperation.
Fear promotes insecurity, disconnection and distrust.
What legacy do we want to pass down to our children? Learning emotional self-regulation in an atmosphere of empathy, tolerance and love, or punishment, intolerance and fear?
I know which one I would choose if it were me needing those things – an atmosphere of empathy, tolerance and love.
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I’ve been following this post & its comments as I have an introverted sensitive child. A book that I’ve found helpful is “How to Raise Your Spirited Child”. We often associate spirited children with extroversion but there are spirited introverts as well. Just another title to add to the mix!
Thanks Maureen –
How to Raise Your Spirited Child? I can’t seem to find that title. Do you mean Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka?
If that’s the one you mean, that is a good one. I read that a LONG time ago…but at a time I was really, really overwhelmed. I think there was so much information, and while it comforted me, it also gave me a troubled feeling. It wasn’t the book’s fault at all. It was my state of mind at the time. I found myself nodding a lot, but I was also very anxious. I was anxious in general at the time – not sleeping very well because my husband was working a rotating shift and I would sleep well only one week out of three. I was hormonally challenged because I was nursing my youngest still (until she was 3). I think I was very depressed at the time because there was so much to think about, so many concerns/worries and lack of faith that I had the determination to mother well. And partly, because I still was in an environment where my family (mother, sisters) were criticizing my parenting techniques – incessantly telling me to stop coddling my children, put them down lest they get spoiled, stop breastfeeding my 3 y.o., etc.
That book is a great book that I got at a time when I wasn’t able to assimilate ALL of the information because I was so stressed out.
I think now, looking back, I was in crisis mode. Too much was going on for me to take it all in. I think now would be a good time to revisit it, when time and I am more confident in my parenting abilities.
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Wow, i cant believe i have found such a wonderful site to review and to see my own child. Understanding is the cornerstone of helping others. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, i could determine there was a “problem” with my 4 yo daughter but couldnt put my finger on it. This has helped me to see that she is not a brat and that i should trust my instinct to pull her in, hug and love her instead of throwing her in her room ( which i also do – mostly for my own sanity). I have jotted down all the great book suggestions and have saved all the links and will continue my quest to better understand my daughter and find EFFECTIVE ways to help her. She is all the wonderful things mentioned in the various literature but she is also quick tempered, sensitive to the simplest things and can go from 0-100 in anger too. I love her sweet nature and her caring spirit, but cant wait to help her REGULATE her mood more effectively.Thank you!!!!
This is EXCELLENT … Man I wish someone knew this stuff when I was younger. I had a horrendous time on so many levels. Heck, even as an adult I see things that others did not, still do these days. My peanut friend calls it a gift … I’ve struggled with it for the very real reason that others did not see it. So, what would happen is I would see something, others would dismiss it and then I’d doubt myself. I don’t do that anymore. However, it was very difficult to process and then when I found psychology and books and all these great learning tools (through life coaching that I’ve studied) I realized that it wasn’t that I was unintelligent. I was simply different. I never minded different but other people’s perception of this is greatly skewed when they don’t understand.
This is excellent 🙂
I wish I had access to some of this stuff before I was a parent. I had enough awareness to keep myself safe, but not enough to realize that we bring the past into our present relationships. I learned the hard way…by having daughters who challenged me with their own sensitivities and awareness.
My husband is selectively aware. Meaning, he can ignore all sorts of things…but certain things with regards to me he has a sixth sense about. It’s really unsettling at times.
Being highly aware is a gift, though sometimes it’s a mixed blessing, because it’s rather isolating not to be able to be understood by others, particularly those you have to or want to relate with on a daily basis.
They say ignorance is bliss for a very good reason, you know.
Oh my, none of us knew about bringing the past into our present relationships. Who knew that? I didn’t realize that until I was in my early thirty’s. I mean, I had an idea that I acted particular ways due to past experiences but I didn’t know anything at all about personal triggers, traumatic events and how they affect us OR how neatly buried they are in our subconscious gleefully waiting to come out. We all learned the hard way I think.. well, I did anyway. I AM VERY GLAD Though that I learned, so I don’t mind. If this makes sense. I could be spinning my wheels going around in circles.
Your hubby see’s stuff in you ? oooh!!! Like, how you’re thinking?
Oh. My. God. Yes, being highly aware feels and has been a mixed blessing. YES I’ve felt misunderstood for YEARS and I always used to say how I would see things, others would not, lots of things I would let roll off and I wouldn’t pay much mind. My favorite saying was/is something along the lines of “I don’t know why people make me pay that much attention to what they’re doing” because once I focus, I see all kinds of things which make them uncomfortable. No one likes to feel that transparent. I can’t help but see it and I also have had to learn better communication skills which is good. However I had to because blurting out something didn’t go over so well sometimes.
My thing was to sense things, but not really sense them. I would kind of live and let live until the individual crossed the line too often in whatever behavior they had, thereafter I’ve always said… “I don’t know WHY people have to make me pay attention like this”. (It’s exhausting sometimes) I prefer not to delve down in there, so yes, I’ve struggled myself not wanting to see certain things, see them, sense them and then it’s like… if my life was affected by them, it was like a double edged sword to me. I was glad I saw it, but upset at the same time. I understand you completely and this past year I’ve come to accept this gift and I’m working on building up my confidence about it and how to express things to people as well.
Yes. Ignorance is bliss. I know… I know. This is nice 🙂 you get it completely. HA! That makes me happy. 🙂
Mysterycoach, I’m not entirely sure everyone has the same capacity or desire to learn about why they do what they do and how the past influences their present. If that was the case, child abuse would not be perpetuated for generations. Alice Miller, starting with The Drama of The Gifted Child (in this case gifted doesn’t imply intellectual gifted, but gifted with ways of dealing with abuse) talks about this in her books.
I see this in my own family of origin. While they’ve mellowed out some over the years, they still have some deeply entrenched patterns of behaving. I, too, from time to time, play into the old scripts, but I do so with more intention, especially if I want to get out of some sort of social obligation.
I have seen/sensed a lot of things in others, and it’s come in handy at times. At other times, not so much. Like, I used to make friends really easily, and had a way with even very difficult people (aside from my own family), but the downside is that when I form attachments to people, it’s painful to lose them (because life takes them in different directions, or because they’ve died).
But, then, other times, I can be kind of oblivious to some of my own shadow stuff too. I’ve unearthed some of it, but only through feedback from others.
My husband doesn’t read my mind exactly…but he can feel a ‘disturbance in the force’ as he calls it. He’s very intuitive in a different way than I am. Like for instance, he’ll be at school (he’s a massage therapist) and I’ll be at home. If I end up having an upsetting phone call with someone, he’ll start tingling or he’ll get a knot in his stomach. It took him a while to determine that he needs to ask me if something out of the ordinary occurred about the time he felt those things. He won’t know what exactly is up, but that something is going on.
So, while it’s fascinating to know he can do that with me, he had a hard time understanding his own daughters’ behaviors and understand they are upset for legitimate reasons. At times, he has expected them to behave in ways they hadn’t emotionally been able to. Our daughters have SOUNDED a LOT older than they are emotionally. Such is the way with asynchronous development – their cognitive skills being developed while emotional skills were delayed.
It’s taken my husband a little longer to learn what I’ve come to learn. And, in fact, I didn’t have a whole lot of faith for the longest time…because he was unable to acknowledge and work on his subconscious patterns. Instead, when he’d get too close to some of his stuff, or the girls or I triggered his stuff, he’d turn to alcohol rather than examining things too closely.
For us, for the longest time, this has caused a great deal of stress, but I think we have made some good progress in this area in recent months (before too much more time has passed!). It is very upsetting when you see/sense things but can’t control the outcomes. And that is the biggest lesson of all. We can educate others, but we can’t control what they will do with the information. Most times, if you get too close to an area that triggers their shame, they will do everything to defend against it. This is where you have to decide if and how you will impart some feedback to them. Some may tolerate the feedback well as constructive criticism, some may view it as an attack or feel very vulnerable. I think many people fall into the latter two categories.
This is where I wish I was Sheldon Cooper, then I wouldn’t feel troubled by what I am aware of. 🙂
If you aren’t too troubled by New-Age spirituality based stuff, you might benefit from Rose Rosetree’s Empowered By Empathy. It sounds like you are an unskilled empath – meaning you have the ability to perceive things, but haven’t learned how to use it effectively.
Either you have to filter some of that out, or you have to be very, very grounded in order to deal with some of that.
I understand what you’re saying about capacity/desire to learn and shift how people do things. I mean it serves them so why change? I understand what you’re saying. Some do though, which is excellent. For myself I”m not sure I have the same old types of scripts which I would use with intention. If I am aware of it… if I’m aware of something and I realize what I’m doing, or it’s pointed out to me, I’ll mull it over and shift things. Depends on what it is of course, if it’s helping me or repeating something negative.
Sure, I understand, we form attachments to people for different reasons too. It’s always been sad when we lose someone or they move etc., yet … at the same time, I lean pretty heavily on the very real truth that we never lose someone we’re not supposed to in life. Like, there seems to be that old saying, which I forget what it is exactly, where people show up and then fade away inlife because we’re supposed to learn something from them or that experience.
It’s not so strange that your husband would sense you and not the girls. It’s a different connection. 🙂 It’s something with my daughter I have to realize too, the emotional growth portion and development I assume because she is so smart she’s emotionally as intelligent however these things don’t combine … heck, they don’t combine in some adults either because they’re all different relationships and we identify with things differently. Am I making sense? 🙂
Sure. Alcohol is a common interrupt for processing something we don’t want to. Sometimes that comes on inadvertently too. Like when I was a kid, my friends and I would go out drinking or what have you and as I got older I realized I was drinking (no, no problem with it…) to bury things at times which I needed to face head on and with a clear mind. I’ve also noticed over the years that different types of alcohol brings out different parts of my personality. This was interesting and I don’t drink those that make me into an entirely different person. Whiskey as an example… hold on to your hat! I’ll grow horns … they’re cute ? LOL … seriously though, I don’t touch that stuff it changes my temperment.
Yes, I agree with you on approach and how people hear what we say. I’ve also noticed too sometimes I make the bad assumption based on how someone communicates about things that they are open to hearing what I may say or see as to what they’re doing and this is not always true at all. Something I try to keep in mind, definitely.
I think I’m an unskilled empath too and I’ve read up on this topic many times. I’m not grounded by any means although I’ve read about it at length. It seems to slip out of my head when there’s too much stimulus and it’s exhausting. I can deflect many things, I have… but when it’s a constant barrage of nonsense (like this girl at work and her shifts?) it can feel pretty overwhelming. I just told another woman yesterday that she may have the same skill. She’s highly intuitive as well.
Hey if you have other links at your fingertips about grounding and empaths I’d be interested in reading them. I’m going to listen to the video you put up. See you later …
I just watched the video? ROFLMAO! I love this guy! Have you ever seen the show “Monk”? he’s funny too! There’s another show on tv now as well, but I can’t think of the name of it where the guy doesn’t think like everyone else either. Oh! And HOUSE I love that show too…
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Here it is! The comment I lost. I don’t like “all” that mail on something, you know, you make one post the 50 or so later follow up and you’re getting mail you don’t really need. So, I’m going to click the little box and then read what you wrote so I don’t lose it.
Surprise 🙂 Okay back to your response.
Phew, I am not alone!!! I can also relate to everyone here.. I am so grateful for your blog and every one’s comments.. It is giving me great comfort to know that I am not alone, with my son Jordan’s (4-yrs old) SPD.. You have given me more tools and information to look into.. I am obsessed with helping him.. I have felt very alone for so long, as most of our family and friends have little understanding about his, as did I.. We have made great progress with Pre-K, but he is still using very minimal vocabulary when trying to express himself.. All we have ever wanted and waited for is to be able to have a conversation with our son and more importantly help him express himself.. His school and teachers are helping us along the way.. They have been very understanding and helpful, as well as educating themselves and have even bought special tools to help him.. I recommend the book Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals.. By Angie Voss..She also has a website.. understandingspd.com. I found your advise on looking into selective mutism helpful.. I will have to look into this, asap…
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Just this week heard the phrase “highly sensitive people” and started reading. Bling! What a lightbulb moment. I am a highly sensitive daughter, raised by a highly sensitive mother, pregnant and raising two highly sensitive children. I thought maybe my abnormal traits were ‘taught’ by my mother-but how could she teach me to smell so sensitively?!? Textures, tastes, sounds, vibrations, air all create such a cacophony of stimulation that I am constantly overwhelmed. However, none of us are ‘shy’ in the typical sense. I could this moment stand up in front of 5000 people and give a speech without a moment’s hesitation, but one-on-one interaction leaves me shaking inside. My daughter is the same. Since my three year old is still non-verbal, I will wait and see. All of us are also gifted, but in our rural area, it is believed that giftedness does not exist in the very young, so there is no outside help for my kids. I am following now, so I look forward to reading how others are learning and thriving in this chaotic world!
If it makes you feel any better, I live in the suburbs, and it’s not believed that giftedness occurs in the very young either. They used to wait until 3rd grade to identify the kidlets…BUT…they started this year testing the 2nd graders. My middle daughter is the highly sensitive one and I am 99 % sure she’ll get into the program.
That’s interesting you say that one on one interaction leaves you shaking inside. I wonder why that is. Is it because you can’t find gifted peers to feel comfortable around…or is it because you have an overwhelming empathy for others…that getting to know a person deeply is unnerving.
I can’t interact with people whom I don’t feel comfortable with…who are snobs, superficial, or judgmental. Just can’t. I can make friends with anyone who is markedly ‘different’ from the crowd though.
My best friends have always been the oddballs, the geeks, the poets, the philosopher types.
I picked up a lot of traits from my mother…a gifted, but narcissistic woman. She used her powers to hurt instead of help. And it’s too bad, she would have made a great role model…had she not been so miserable in her life.
Best wishes with your family. Feel free to comment elsewhere on the blog. Actually…feel free to write me at raisingsmartgirls at yahoo dot com, in case you’d like to talk more.
The portrait you draw of a “highly sensitive daughter” with selective mutism, generalized anxiety, separation anxiety and sensory overload may well be a portrait of a girl who has been sexually abused. I’m sure that this is not the first time this has been suggested to you.
You may not have seen it happen, you may not have sensed it, your daughter may not even remember it, but it could have happened. The traits you describe are hallmarks of childhood sexual abuse.
I appreciate the concern, but I’m 99.9 percent sure that’s not what happened here.
No, not one person has EVER suggested sexual abuse to me. Not her pediatric neuropsychologist, nor any of the literature, nor the school psychologist I sent her to for a year (different reasons – her father and I were having job loss stress and I wanted to make sure she was okay).
I always appreciate a chance to revisit this, because as I dialogue with others about it, I get the chance to re-evaluate the situation as new possibilities arise.
We officially discovered her SM at 4.5. The only caretakers in her life were me, my husband and my mother in law. I was home with her since 9 months of age. My mother in law has taken care of my children in the most doting of ways. I can’t say with certainty that she NEVER did something like that, but it would be evident in my child’s current behavior with her. After 9 months of age, I was my daughter’s primary caretaker…and she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. I co-slept with her from 10 months old because she refused her crib that she formerly slept in. And, I was also pregnant by then. I think my daughter just “knew” something was different about mommy and she stuck on my like velcro.
My daughter is perceptive/intuitive, like me.
My husband never touched her inappropriately. I asked. He said no most caringly. He didn’t even get offended that I asked. He knows I have to ask that question. I have seen him step up to the plate since the day the girls were born (even changing the very first diaper before I did). He and I have had a very close relationship. I know you never really know someone…but that’s usually because people don’t know how to pay proper attention.
My husband and I had a high degree of perception and attunement to each other. We know when the other person has even subtle problems. There was a time when we were almost ‘one mind’.
My daughter was never in the presence of any other adult by herself after I quit my job for about 4 years. She had a serious case of separation anxiety from the time she was 10 months old. When she was 2, from the first day I tried to go to a MOPs (mother’s of preschoolers) group, she could not even stay in the church nursery without crying hysterically. I worked the church nursery. While they were always busy and chaotic, the children’s rooms had a security camera that parents could view at any time.
Often, during MOPs meetings, she’d just hang out by me. Fortunately, the other moms were okay with that. And she was extremely quiet then, so it worked.
But getting back to other care-takers. You can see the radiant joy between my daughters and my MIL. If there was any foul play there, it would be evident. For example, my daughter still, to this day, does not like my mother. Because I KNOW what my mother is like, personality-wise, I NEVER employed my mother as a baby sitter before age 6. My daughter was never in my mother’s presence alone prior to that. No. Not once. Yes, I was THAT paranoid about my mother.
I was not worried at all about sexual abuse…but physical or psychological abuse. I had been through it myself, I wasn’t going to risk having anything happen to my daughter. Even so, my daughter knows my mother is kind of “mean”. But she has a voice now, so while I limit contact out of respect for my child, I have let my mother take my children for a few hours at a time and sometimes overnight, but only extremely rarely.
As a gifted child, she has had the typical features of asynchronous development.
Now, she has none of the SM, and very little social problems and she’s still extremely sensitive emotionally, perceptive, gentle, intelligent and happy.
If anything “caused” her sensory issues…I’d have to consider her birth experience. She was stuck somewhere inside me. Though my water had broken, I was only at 5 cm. The hospital staff hit me up with pitocin, but I also had an epidural, which only half worked. At one point, they kept upping the pitocin. One contraction she’d come down, the end of it, she’d move back upwards. They moved me on one side, then the other side, but she wouldn’t budge. More pitocin. It didn’t help but only serve to make me feel rent in two.
The wise doctor came in, assessed the situation, then told me to move on my side again. I said, “they already tried that” but she insisted, moving me FARTHER over on my side. In that turn, my daughter slipped down the birth canal in an instant. I screamed that the baby was coming, the nurses said, “no, it can’t be, you are at -2”. But the doctor said, “let me check, often, mama is right”. Sure enough, the baby was crowning.
She also had jaundice due to a blood type compatibility. I am type O. She is type A. My blood cells were circulating in her system and they were being destroyed by my antibodies being leaked into her system. After the initial bonding with her, they whisked her away for 6 hours to put her in a box with bilirubin lights. Six hours of being put in a warming box rather than being close to mama. I think that may have something to do with her sensory integration problems separation anxiety.
This birth experience was the most traumatic one for me. I can’t even begin to imagine how being pumped full of chemicals might have impacted her. How being stuck might have impacted her. But I know birth trauma is just as legitimate as trauma caused later in childhood.
So, I don’t want other mothers thinking now that their SM children have been exposed to sexual abuse, when that might not be the case at all. I do believe hospital interventions designed to ‘help’ cause more sensory processing issues than are realized.
I just wanted to share this pdf about sensory processing disorder:
Click to access sensory-processing-disorder.pdf
I am so relieved to read this blog my 6 yr old lives exactly like ur daughter it started in pre k now she is in kinder this year i homeschooled her last year long story but i wanted her to go back to school this year again in kinder i have great news it gets better. I for a while felt i was crazy that maybe i am just making things up about my child. Haylee was diagnose with selective mutisum night terrors and anxiety which her fathet and i both have.
Thanks for your reply. Yeah, it’s DOES feel like you are a little crazy, knowing that you see or sense things that are making it difficult for your daughter to make her way in the world. I’m so glad she is getting along better.
“I’m becoming really in awe of who they are because I’m not trying to force them into something they are not.” – I really love that you wrote that. As a highly sensitive and introverted being, I was raised by a mother who ruled with an iron fist. And though that approach may work for some children, I feel I would have gone much farther in life at an earlier age had I been given the right encouragement in the right areas. That being said, I appreciate knowing there are people out there lessening their child’s burdens, such as, not conforming to some cookie cutter version of a human being. I’m sure you’re children will value your taking the time to meet their needs, even if it seems trivial and ridiculous to other moms. To the highly sensitive person, it means the world.
Thank you for your kind words. And, it’s never too late to go farther in life. There are a lot of adults who didn’t blossom until well into adulthood.
And while sometimes it’s a lonely path, not conforming into a cookie cutter version of a human being has it’s rewards.
One of the things I’m learning…alongside my daughters…is how to nurture and encourage the sensitive child that still resides in me. I didn’t get the upbringing I really needed (and often got very rough treatment) and sometimes it makes resilience to stress in adulthood that much tougher. Yet, even at 42 years old, I try to re-mother myself while I learn to meet the needs my daughters have. I can get some of the needs met now that I didn’t get before.
One of the techniques I use is art journaling. It’s both healing and empowering and my inner child gets to come out and express herself. It’s a great tool for sensitive people.
Hello Casey, I came across your blog via a simple google search for HSC social techniques. I started to read the Highly sensitive child book by Elain Aron, While the book is a good read, I find it telling me everything I have already identified in my child. I wish it would tell me more on how to deal with my 1st grader’s social life in school. What techniques can I show her to better her communication with her friends instead of crying. Do you happen to have any suggestions? She often feels like her friends are mad at her, which they are not. She often feels left out and feels like she did something wrong to her friends. You seem to have way more experience with this subject then I do right now. Please any suggestion will help. THANK YOU
I am looking forward to reading the book (:
I think the best thing you can do for her is to teach her about emotions and her experiences so that she can tell you what she thinks the problems are, and then troubleshoot solutions with her.
It would be a great idea to give her a language to identify what she needs to feel safe, and why she doesn’t feel safe in her classroom or among her peers – but look not just at her peers, but the entire environment she’s in that can impact her feelings. Is it the lighting? The demands from the teacher? The expanded expectations for writing (daily journal writing and story writing begins in first grade)? Is she under-stimulated academically? Is the obnoxious behavior of other kids frustrating her? Is the teacher having to discipline other kids upsetting her? Is she over-stimulated by all that goes on in the classroom? Is she frustrated that she can’t tell others what’s bothering her, or what she enjoys?
Does she miss you? My daughter started out the year having problems with her friends, and not understanding most of them. She resolved some of those things by going to the school counselor weekly, but still hasn’t resolved the fact that she misses me and it affects how she feels in school.
Maybe volunteer in her classroom once a month or once a week if you can swing it. Maybe your presence their will help her relax. Maybe you can see what goes on in the classroom.
If she can’t yet articulate what’s going on inside yet, maybe use story books that explore emotions – Like When Sophie Gets Angry. Or Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The Berenstain Bears series of books have lots of good stories about social situations.
I’ll try to come up with some other good book titles.
And when you find out what might be troubling her, you might be able to use puppets to help explore her own feelings and give her ideas on how to navigate a particular social situation.
I found the same thing with the book, although it was very validating. I also read, When the Labels Dont Fit, it has actual suggestions for dealing with behavior and making change. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the suggestion. My local library has that book. I will check it out for some ideas for my own girls.
You might find this website link helpful too-
and this too
scroll to the middle of the page to download the pdfs
Tonight was a huge eye opener for me!! I have been wondering “what was wrong” with my baby boy time and time again and tonight it just all made sense. I saw how upset, overwhelmed, anxious and disappointed in himself he was tonight at the amusement park. I felt for him in the worst way. I finally realized that he was struggling from being hyper sensitive! Struggling bc neither him nor myself understood what was going on in his little body. Everything you said is a pleasure to read and I just wanted to say thanks. I feel extremely inspired and I can rest my head down happily. Feeling anxious myself for new beginnings!
I’m so sorry I didn’t get the chance to reply. Things have been crazy hectic in my life, but I’m glad you found some understanding and relief. I hope you both are doing well.
I am from South Africa and here we are taught to be tough (maybe it is so in the rest of the world too) and out of desperation, I started searching for answers to why my middle kid (daughter) is so sensitive to everything… After reading a lot, I understand now that she is just highly sensitive and then I came across your blog… Now I understand why she is. I am highly sensitive too and it wasn’t handled like it was supposed to when I was a child, I was teased and cast out for the way I was. I now understand why I felt the way I did in school. I thank you for this blog! I feel empowered to give my little girl everything I needed so that she wouldn’t feel “cast out” and different like I did.
Wonderful! It’s really okay to go against cultural conditioning. It’s sometimes comes at a high price, but the personal freedom is worth it!
We have two kids, and our eldest is highly sensitive. We have know him to be different ever since he was a baby. For a long time we didn’t know what “this” was. And for a longer time, we thought we were alone. It seemed like all the other parents watched and judged and just didn’t understand because their kids were “normal”.
It’s been a long journey, but a very educational one. After having read a lot on the topic of highly sensitive children and met many moms of highly sensitive children, we are much more confident in our approach and in dealing with other parents/teachers/caregivers who just don’t get kids if they skew slightly from the norm.
In my effort to reach out to other parents, I also started a blog (www.sensitiveandextraordinary.com) in which I openly discuss the challenges and joys that come with our son’s character. I believe parents of HSC have a lot to learn from each other. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog.
“Normal” is just a setting on the washing machine.
“After having read a lot on the topic of highly sensitive children and met many moms of highly sensitive children, we are much more confident in our approach and in dealing with other parents/teachers/caregivers who just don’t get kids if they skew slightly from the norm.”
Oh, yes, definitely!
Thanks for sharing your blog, I’ll check it out.
thanks so much Casey! It’s always good to talk to people who understand.
It would be wonderful if you stopped by, I’d love to hear your thoughts too!
Have a wonderful weekend and a very Merry Christmas!
Well, I am a few years late finding this, but I feel like I could have written a lot of it! I am an introverted highly sensitive person raising a introverted highly-sensitive 4-year-old daughter. She’s a puzzle though because she’s an introverted HSC with a dramatic and theatrical bent. I totally could see her being a successful YouTuber as an adult or something like that. What really rang true in your post above was how your parents didn’t teach you the right coping skills. I, for my whole life, thought there was inherently something wrong with me. I think my mom still thinks “introvert” is an insult. It is so sad to look back and see that probably 27 years of my life were spent feeling less than and broken. I’m happy my 4-year-old has someone who is like her to help her through it.
What a relief to stumble upon your site. Just went online tonight to try to find some help/ answers with regards my 3 year old girl who is so complex and lovely and frustrating. So heartening to read a mum who is honest enough to say “I forget to do the right thing sometimes” and nearly wept when I read that you find the cacophony of noise and emotion too much sometimes. I think you described my daughter in your blog and it now makes so much sense to me when you describe yourself as the same personality type. I think it is why I find her so hard to deal with. I used to think she was rather sullen but now realise it is extreme self consciousness. After reading your article I am now going to tackle her problems with initially greeting people, even her friends. She just can’t handle it and will be moody and even aggressive. I find it very difficult and embarrassing having had a very friendly sociable older child. When we arrive at play group her buddy will run up and offer some flowers she has brought her and dd will push them away ” I don’t want them” , even though she does really and absolutely adores her friend. It is hard to explain to other kids and even more so other mothers. Gets me down really though I love her so dearly. Thank you for your honesty and for taking the time to share which helps people like me who had started to feel like I had gone horribly wrong somewhere and damaged her somehow or taught her bad behaviour somehow. Best of luck to you.
I need you in my life!
We have the same mind and feel so passionately about the same thing. Our daughters are also at the same point.
I’d love your guidance. Reading these entries was like listening to myself – it was so soothing to feel like somebody else understands!!! Because not too many other people do!!
A few years ago,3-4, I was in search of understanding my daughter, Lexi. At the time she was 4-5 yo. I am so glad I didn’t listen to everyone else who wanted to adhere to the normal ridged disciplining that takes place in our culture for “braty” children. I am an educated women, but more so I am a mom who knew something was off and it was my job to figure it out and do right by my little girl. Well after much research, mostly because of this website, and much reading – many books that helped me understand my daughter and let me know I’m not crazy. I was well on my way to helping Lexi; helping her to be the best 4 year old she could be. In the scheme of it all she is likely on the very mild side of HSP, however her reactions were NOT mild. She seemed to not be able to understand and connect things in her head right – this was my clue that she was NOT just being defiant or braty; she was really struggling. Well after testing and a 3 month trial of medication, I took her off and started down a different road. A road of understanding and guidance for her to manage her emotions more effectively. I taught my little girl breathing exercises, guided imagery, and I sit with her when she feels overwhelmed (which often looks like a tantrum to others). I have learned the art of validation and compassion much better than I ever could do before. I allow her to be in the moment, comfort her and then help her to self-sooth through use of the various techniques. As she has aged, I have added steps and more complex techniques that she can use for the rest of her life. Another idea was to put her to bed earlier -even though I was convinced she was one of those kids who didn’t need a lot of sleep. Well, because of my own need for down time I put her to bed earlier, 8:30 instead of the normal 9pm or later, this made a huge difference in our morning routine and greatly improved her ability to cope and her attitude while getting ready for school. I also created a clock that was color coded with 5 min to wake up, 10 min to eat, 5 min to put on shoes etc – the color coding made all the difference. She would carry the clock all over the house and she knew when she was running out of time/color and no longer needed me to say “hurry up we are running out of time”, even in my nicest tone – it still put her over the edge, but NO MORE. She used the clock for about 3 weeks and then she had it down pat- she no longer uses the clock and gets up and dressed and ready to go in record time and with a positive attitude. It cost me less than $10 and took a little creativity on my part, but well worth it. I am so grateful that I listened to my own heart and to my child and took the time to give her what she needs. She is now 8, and my mom told me last year that she is a different little girl and that I should be proud of my diligence and compassion as it has helped to shape who Lexi is today, a bright and happy child. She still has her moments, but now I understand her and I defend and advocate for her daily. She is better able to manage herself, her outbursts are shorter and more mild and usually more private. My goal all along was to help her grow up to be a CALM self sufficient person and now I believe she has a fighting chance if she uses her skills. Good luck to each of you on your journey – and always listen to your heart. Mom really does know best!
Oh my god. Thank you for this post. This is just my story. I have only highly sensitive daughter and no one quite gets what I go through with raising her. I too grew up as a sensitive child but my own parents till this day think I am weird and have never accepted the person I am. They just don’t get me.
Atleast now I feel validated when I came across your blog entry. Thank you again for opening up and sending you hugs!. We are not alone, the universe will guide us.