Often without thought, parents can cause their children to feel flawed or broken. This is a common occurrence among highly sensitive kids, according to parenting researchers. Many parents see sensitivity as a negative quality, believing that it makes their children appear helpless, subdued, or lacking in strength, and therefore discourage it by using phrases such as “Stop crying!” or “Toughen up!”
However, psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered that in the appropriate setting, children with highly sensitive brains possess unique benefits. Highly sensitive children not only exhibit greater creativity, perceptiveness, and openness than their less-sensitive peers. But they also possess another quality: empathy.
Do children have a more sensitive brain? What stands out in sensitive kids?
According to a 2014 study, participants were shown pictures of individuals who were either smiling or seeming sad, and it was discovered that sensitive individuals’ brains had the greatest empathic reaction. Furthermore, their brains were more active in areas linked to action planning. Indicating that, as sensitive individuals often report, they are unable to observe someone in distress without experiencing a strong desire to assist.
Since sensitive children are more affected by their experiences than their peers, they benefit more from support, training, and encouragement, resulting in higher achievement. Psychologist Elaine Aron, who coined the term “highly sensitive person,” states that roughly 20% of children fall under this category.
Here are some of the most common signs in kids with highly sensitive brains
They are acutely aware of subtle details, such as a teacher’s fresh attire or when the furniture has been relocated. External factors strongly influence their emotions, and they easily absorb others’ sentiments, assuming them as their own. They struggle to release intense feelings like anger or worry and may protest when things feel uncomfortable. Examples could be scratchy bedsheets, itchy clothing labels, or tight waistbands.
Sensitive kids experience stress and weariness in loud, bustling settings, such as gyms or perfume counters, due to the overpowering fragrances. They dislike being hurried and prefer to take things slowly and carefully. Most sensitive kids respond better to gentle feedback rather than harsh discipline. These kids are observant and appear wise beyond their years.
They possess a sharp wit and can quickly read people, inferring their thoughts and emotions with impressive accuracy. Sensitive kids may refuse to eat certain foods due to their odor or texture,. They startle easily when caught off guard by sudden noises, like when someone sneaks up on them. If any of these resonate with you and your child, remember that it’s a positive thing and should never be frowned upon. These children just have a different approach to life.
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Help your sensitive kid thrive
Prepare expectations ahead of time. Highly sensitive children require enough time to reflect and contemplate, and establishing expectations provides them with a decision. They know the possible consequences if they fulfill those expectations and the repercussions if they do not. This could be as basic as stating, “Today, we are going to visit Grandma at the nursing home. We should speak in quiet tones and exhibit a calm demeanor because some of the individuals there are unwell.”
Practice gentle discipline. Highly sensitive children are more likely to have their emotions wounded, and they may take corrective actions as a personal attack due to their raised sensitivity. Instead of using time-outs, construct a calming spot equipped with soothing items. These could be a stuffed animal or a weighted blanket where they can retreat to regulate their emotions if they become overwhelmed. Following the correction, offer them positive affirmations and reassure them of your love and support.
Be their emotional coach. As a parent, you are constantly demonstrating emotional regulation skills to your children, regardless of whether it is due to work-related stress or your child’s emotional outbursts. By deliberately modeling effective emotional regulation strategies, you can set a better example for your children.
On top of everything, always stand up for them
Always advocate for them. At the beginning of the school year, discuss your child’s sensitivity with their teachers to avoid any possible misunderstandings or conflicts. When your child employs their sensitivity in a positive way, such as displaying empathy towards a friend in need or utilizing their imagination, make sure to express how proud you are of them.
Be curious about the wide world. Schedule one on one time to connect with your child, free from their siblings, to engage in conversation and play. When communicating with your child, utilize open-ended questions like, “What obstacles did you encounter today?” as opposed to, “Did you have a bad day?” This approach will encourage more substantial dialogue. Make an effort to understand your child’s bodily sensations and sensory experiences. You may be taken aback by their responses.
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