Creative Child

Learning to Embrace My Highly Sensitive Child

by Deborah Song on Oct 9th, 2014

Continued...

One of the most difficult parts of my day lately has been the morning drop off at school. My younger 2-year-old runs into class after a bear hug and kiss. But my highly sensitive 4-year-old, who has been going to school for over two years now, has been creating a dramatic spectacle every morning ever since she changed classes. She's been crying, pulling on me and telling me she's scared. It is part stressful, part embarrassing.

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For the past week, however, I stopped asking her "What's wrong?" or worse, "What's wrong with you?" Instead, I simply tell her it's ok to be scared or to miss me. I take my time saying goodbye to her.

I don't think it's a coincidence that after two months of tear-filled goodbyes and refusing to line up with the rest of the class, she lined up willingly today. Will she do it again tomorrow? I don't know. But more importantly, I don't care. Not the way I used to. I don't care what people might think of her  or me as a parent. I know I'm not enabling her. Her sensitivity is not my fault as a parent. I'm not preoccupied trying to fix her "problem." I find it interesting that once I stopped expecting her to perform, she did.

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Perhaps the biggest breakthrough, though, is that I now see sensitivity as a gift, which has been therapeutic for me as well since I've been repressing my own sensitivity my whole life. Being prone to feel more and notice subtle details are the reasons why many highly sensitive people are artists, writers, actors and scientists. Albert Einstein, Leonardo Di Vinci, Beethoven, Mother Theresa, Nicole Kidman and Steve Jobs have all been linked to high sensitivity. And they probably made the contributions they made not in spite of their sensitivity but because of it.

It is not an epiphany of earth-shattering proportions that how you view your child affects how you parent, but put into the context of a highly sensitive child, it is very profound. Our society does not favor the 20 percent of highly sensitive people who make up the population. So initially, it seemed logical to try and change her, to repress the trait, to assimilate her so she could have an easier life. But trying to force her to be something she wasn't was hurting her, not helping her.

As Dr. Aron put it, "It is primarily parenting that decides whether the expression of sensitivity will be an advantage or a source of anxiety." Raising a highly sensitive child is not easy. But with greater challenges come greater rewards.

When she lined up without a fuss for the first time in months, I was that much prouder because I know how much effort it took ; both on her part and mine.

Source: Aron, Ph.D, Elaine. The Highly Sensitive Child. New York: Harmony Books, 2002. Print. 

Check out more tips for dealing with highly sensitive children here!

Deborah Song is a Los Angeles-based writer and the mother of two girls. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University and writes about parenting, business and kid entrepreneurship. You can read more of her work at lemonadepost.com.

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