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 because they help us explain things more easily. Sometimes labels are unhelpful or untrue. Sometimes labels lead to prejudice. Sometimes labels are used as an excuse to act a certain way, or to not act a certain way, to “earn” certain privileges or to excuse things as “not my fault”. I like to use labels as a helpful word or phrase that brings to mind an explanation to help me better understand something…realizing that no label fits anything or anyone perfectly, all the time.
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…the physical world and the emotional world. (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.
We have three children and all of them are highly sensitive people, just in different ways. HERE is a quiz to help you determine if you may have a highly sensitive child. This is a list of things from the quiz that we find to be true of at least one our children…some are true of all three:
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.
I don’t want my kids to use the label of Highly Sensitive Person as an excuse for acting or not acting a certain way. I want them to understand that this is one more way that God made them special (15-20% of the population is a HSP). I want them to learn to function in “normal everyday life” so they can excel in whatever God has planned for them.
I want to use the label of HSC as a tool to help me better understand them and be able to arrange my parenting and our daily life to help them to function well and learn to cope well with challenging situations.
Could you have a Highly Sensitive Child? How would it change your parenting?