Being too sensitive in the American culture is often regarded as a negative personality trait. After all, if you’re too sensitive, how are you going to handle all of life’s adversities and tough challenges? Better yet, how are you going to handle life at all? Guess what? The highly sensitive child will most likely handle life with increased awareness, deep thinking, a sense of humor, and curiosity among other things. I know this from personal experience, of course, but I have witnessed these children throughout my career as a counselor and now as a parent to a son who I believe is highly sensitive as well.
While HSPs generally make up only 20% of the population, there are several famous HSPs you might recognize: Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Woody Allen, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Jane Goodall, Sir Isaac Newton, Elton John, Claire Danes, Nicole Kidman, and several more! Thank goodness for these personalities – they have given this world so much color, light and talent!
When you think of these famous names, what comes to mind? Are they admirable? Are they intelligent? Are they talented? Are they notable? Of course they are! Being highly sensitive does not mean that you’re a recluse who is unable to handle the world. It just means that you might handle it differently than non-HSPs. That’s what makes the world-go-round!
The truth is, HSPs come in all forms. Some may embrace their personality traits while others might try endlessly to change themselves feeling like they simply don’t fit in with society at large. In my opinion, I think in order to truly thrive as an HSP, it’s crucial to learn coping skills to protect our sense of self while also contributing to society in a meaningful way. The earlier a person can start to learn these skills and understand their personality traits, I think the easier it will be to navigate life’s challenges.
Could my child be Highly Sensitive?
According to Elaine Aron, the psychologist who coined the term Highly Sensitive Person, there are several common signs that children exhibit who turn out to be HSPs. For some children, they might demonstrate sensitivities to noises, physical sensations, or hectic environments. I think all too often, family members notice that their child is “shy” and think that there is something wrong with that. I was a very shy child, but that’s what suited me and now I know why! But don’t be mistaken, there are HSPs who are extroverts as well, so be sure to check out Elaine’s criteria. For the full list of HSP qualities click here. Eye-opening, right?
My son who is 3 years old exhibits almost every one of the characteristics on the list and I am so excited about it! Perhaps it’s because I can relate to him or perhaps it’s because I know there is a bright future ahead of him if he embraces his true nature and nurtures every gift he was born with. Already, the level of empathy he expresses at just three years old astounds me. To say I am lucky to be his mother is an understatement. He seems to “get” people and when he doesn’t, he is like me. He stands back and observes. And, you better believe I praise him for doing so because it’s actually a great life skill!
At the end of the day, being a highly sensitive child is wonderful. Sure there will be highly emotional times and sometimes there will be days when it just all seems too overwhelming. But the good news is, there are tons of resources and tools to use to help get through those times. Keep checking back to this blog for more tips and tricks for how to nurture the sensitive child. In the meantime, shower each child with endless love, acceptance, and admiration for all of the gifts he/she is bringing to this world.