One issue parents of highly sensitive children often face is the family member or friend who insists that we have made our children sensitive or “fussy”. Such accusations (because let’s face it these kind of things are never said in a positive congratulatory tone) make us doubt ourselves and our parenting skills. But they shouldn’t. Some of us are born highly sensitive. It’s innate. We are not made sensitive by our environment.
There’s your husband telling you that you are merely being manipulated by your child.
There’s your mother-in-law insisting their grandchild is fine when you are not around.
There are looks from your friends as you battle yet another meltdown on the playground.
There’s that ‘helpful’ advice from a fellow father about bedtime and stress.
There’s that teacher who insists your child should get over herself and speak up and share her thoughts in the classroom.
There’s that uncle who doesn’t get why you can’t attend a family birthday party starting at 8pm – how much harm can one evening deviating from the routine cause?
It goes on: the criticism, being made to think you are raising your child wrong. Many of us end up with fleeting doubts – would our kids be less sensitive if we just got tougher with them?
As the parent of a highly sensitive child, you already know the answer to that. You know your child better than anyone.
A highly sensitive child has certain inherent innate character traits. It starts from birth. We have watched our babies natural reaction to external stimuli as they lie in their cot. We have held them during those evening hours whilst they cry uncontrollably, seemingly about nothing.
Highly sensitive is real. Science has our back. You are not making your child sensitive or encouraging sensitive reactions to stimuli from the world around them. It is what it is.
We are responding to our child’s needs. We aren’t mollycoddling them and definitely not ‘making them sensitive’.
Our aim is to give them the tools to manage their sensitivities in a non-sensitive world – to fill their rucksacks with tips and tricks that get them through their days in school and deal optimally with the situations they face.
Yes, they are sensitive to their environment and become more easily overstimulated than other children but that’s not a result of our parenting. It’s who they are. They need others to accept that. We need others to accept that.
Some of us are born sensitive. Period.