I’ve always suspected that my little girl was not average. Right from the newborn days, there was an alertness and intensity in her eyes. She was always a high needs type, easily ruffled, would go through every developmental leap with a sort of incredible hulk combustion moment, would break every new tooth with the most monumentous amount of suffering. New milestones were consistently hit months beforehand, and when her language started coming – by gosh – did it come! as we marvelled at the complexity of some of the words falling out of her mouth at 20 months….but it had never occurred to me she could be a highly sensitive child.
I’m not saying she is a toddler genius or anything, it’s just that when I looked around, she seemed to be operating on a different level to many others her age, and sometimes even older. Other mothers, people leading classes and so on always commented on how switched on she is.
She has been and still is, very hard work. The good times are amazing, the bad times are catastrophic – she doesn’t do things by half, and I had always put that down to her just being a very intense but wonderful little girl. I think some people, as well as myself, could not understand why she could be just so sensitive…
That was until I recently stumbled upon a piece during the Mummy Bloggers Mummy Monday blog hop entitled Understanding a Highly Sensitive Child (see here). It was as if I’d had one of those rare lightbulb moments. Now I’m not one for labels, but I had no idea that such a thing as a “Highly Sensitive Child” or “HSC” even existed, although funnily enough my own mother has remarked countless times on how highly sensitive our little lady is.
And now it all makes total sense.
Apparently 15-20% of children are born highly sensitive. But what does this actually mean? Further digging unearthed author of The Highly Sensitive Child, Dr Elaine N. Aron, a psychologist specializing in high sensitivity, who explains them as “children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. This makes them quick to grasp subtle changes, prefer to reflect deeply before acting, and generally behave conscientiously. They are also easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation, sudden changes, and the emotional distress of others.”
This certainly explained my little one, and any doubt in my mind was quickly put to bed when I took her “Is Your Child Highly Sensitive” questionnaire (here). Children scoring 13 or more in the affirmative are likely to be highly sensitive. Well, my girl scored 17 so what next?
Well, this has hugely started to change the way I think about things. I’ve always sensed that our little one has needed so much more and has experienced things very intensely, but I always thought that must have somehow been our own doing by not being the most laid back of parents, or perhaps other factors bouncing around in my own imagination. Now I understand it’s a trait that’s fully part of her own make up, something that’s been within her from birth.
But that’s certainly no bad thing – according to the author of the Happy Sensitive Kids blog, Amanda van Mulligen “HSCs grow up to be the artists, the musicians, the peacemakers amongst us. They have an affinity to the natural world, to animals and living, growing things. They are conscientious (there is a reduced chance that I will spend time nagging my son to do his homework in later years) and have an innate sense of justice and right and wrong. They are creative. They are emotionally tuned into the world around them. They are intuitive. They are incredibly caring, affectionate, and loving, as well as wise for their years.”
So I guess that means I will be parenting with more mindfulness and understanding, and that I will have to work on that patience problem of mine (see my earlier post – Mum on the blink: Patience is not a virtue I possess here).
It also means that I’ll be having a good old nosy through then The Highly Sensitive Child book by Dr Elaine N. Aron,to learn more about the important issues of having this wonderfully sensitive being in my life.