One of the most common questions in the Happy Sensitive Kids (HSK) community is a fundamental one – how do I know if my child is highly sensitive? There’s no definitive checklist or sign that will give you absolute confirmation but there are traits and behaviours that many parents of highly sensitive children will identify with. If you recognise any of these 21 behaviours in your child you MAY be raising a highly sensitive child.
- Your child often puts their hands over their ears to block out loud or uncomfortable noises like sirens, alarms or DIY sounds.
- Your child hides behind your legs or is clingy in unknown places, with unknown faces or in busy places.
- Your child is sensitive and highly reactive to pain.
- Your child is the one retreating to a quiet corner at a birthday party.
- You face inexplicable meltdowns after a school day.
- Your child takes time to warm up when in the company of others – even people they know well.
- Your child has great difficulty getting to sleep at night and in all likelihood has probably never been the best of night time sleepers, even as a baby.
- Your child is irritated by clothes tags, sock seams or ‘scratchy’ clothes.
- Your child notices the details: if you move something in your front room, your child knows it. If you change your perfume, your child remarks on it.
- Your child cries when another child cries – or is visibly upset.They notice another person’s discomfort or feelings.
- Your child seems to prefer quiet games and enjoys their own company.
- Your child is a picky eater and finds some textures and strong flavours unpalatable.
- A busy playground is not attractive to your child. Your child observes whilst other children tear around from the slide to the swing to the climbing frame and back again. Your child is the cautious one – assessing the situation thoroughly before jumping or climbing.
- Your child startles if you raise your voice at him.
- Your child has a strong sense of smell.
- Teachers have told you that your child is shy, quiet or sensitive.
- Grandparents tell you your child seems wise beyond her years.
- Your child has a perfectionist tendency.
- Your child is not keen to perform in front of strangers. They don’t do as well in tests given my strangers as they do in the company of familiar faces.
- Your child is immensely curious, constantly asking deep questions that you may not have the answer to.
- Your child displays immense emotion. sometimes such deep emotion you just don’t get it.
Given time this list could probably extend towards the hundred but I’ll stop there. These traits or behaviours are all things I can relate to raising my three highly sensitive children. They are behaviours and experiences that come up time and time again in the HSK community. They are indicators and not absolutes.
If you think your child might be highly sensitive then head over to Elaine Aron’s site and do the Highly Sensitive Child test. As she states, it could be that you can answer only one question positively, but that that positive answer is so true it indicates your child is highly sensitive.
The more you understand the traits of a highly sensitive child, the more you can support your child and help give them the tools to thrive in a world that generally overwhelms them. And once you are certain your child is highly sensitive – then what?