What is a Highly Sensitive Child?
The simplified definition of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) or Highly Sensitive Child (HSC) is someone who is highly tuned into the world around them…physical, emotionally and spiritually. (Source) They are unable to “filter out” or “ignore” things in their environment…loud noises, crowds, physical discomfort, the emotional situations or reactions of others. This is not usual as 15 – 20% of the population could be characterized as highly sensitive people.
We have three children and all of them show highly sensitive tenancies in certain areas. HERE is a quiz to help you determine if you may have a highly sensitive child.
These are some of the things from the quiz we find to be true in our family:
- Complains about “uncomfortable” clothing.
- Doesn’t enjoy big surprises…needs time to process change and “unusual” things to come.
- Uses big words for his/her age.
- Notices the slightest unusual odor.
- Has a clever sense of humor.
- Seems very intuitive…tuned into the emotions of others.
- Is hard to get to sleep after an exciting day…and (when they do sleep) the sleep is restless if they fell asleep before they had “wound down” or emotionally processed the exciting day.
- Wants to change clothes if wet or sandy.
- Asks lots of questions.
- Prefers quiet play or playing by themselves.
- Asks deep thought-provoking questions.
- Is a perfectionist…doesn’t want to try something they don’t think they can do “perfectly”.
- Is very sensitive to pain.
- Is bothered by noisy places or places with “noisy” visual stimulation.
- Considers if it is safe before climbing high.
- Performs best when strangers aren’t present.
- Feels things deeply.
The Problem with Labels
Labels are everywhere in our world…introvert, extrovert, ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Republican, Democrat, Independent, Dyslexic, INFJ and many, many more. Sometimes labels are helpful. They can help us explain things more easily.
Sometimes labels are unhelpful or untrue. Unfortunately, they can also lead to prejudice. It can also be used as an excuse to act a certain way, or to not act a certain way. Some people want to use labels to “earn” certain privileges or to excuse things as “not my fault”.
Labels can serve as a helpful word or phrase that brings to mind an explanation. This helps me better understand something…while realizing that no label fits anyone perfectly, all the time.
Raising Highly Sensitive Kids
I don’t want my kids to use the label of Highly Sensitive Person as an excuse for acting or not acting in a certain way. I want them to understand this as one more way that God made them special.
We carefully choose what we allow into our home as well as what we are involved in. We carefully schedule activities to allow for “down time.” We focus on teaching our children how to be mindful of the personality and sensitivity God has given them. This helps them to excel in life while embracing their uniqueness.
Could you have a Highly Sensitive Child? How would it change your parenting?