Elaine Aron is a groundbreaker when it comes to the topic of highly sensitive people. She’s the guru of the highly sensitive trait. Together with her husband she has pioneered research into high sensitivity. Where we are today with understanding what highly sensitive is is predominantly thanks to Elaine Aron. Here are seven ways she specifically helps parents of highly sensitive children (HSCs).
1. The Highly Sensitive Child Self Test
Dr Aron has developed a self-test to help you determine whether your child is highly sensitive. For lots more information on this read: The Highly Sensitive Child Test: The Earlier the Better.
This is the starting point for many parents, the moment that light bulb goes on and the answers to so many parenting questions start taking shape.
2. The Highly Sensitive Child Book
If you are parenting a HSC and you don’t yet have a copy of “The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them” then I highly recommend that you change that asap.
This is the HSC bible and I really am not kidding. It’s the best $9 you will spend on parenting tools. I bought my copy in 2011 and I still regularly refer to it, dip in, and re-read sections as my three HSCs get older, with my eldest careering towards his teen years.
When a parent asks me, “I believe my child is a HSC, where should I start?”, I refer them without hesitation to this book.
Get your copy here:
Blackwell’s (includes delivery in the price quoted)
3. Sensitive: The Untold Story
Elaine Aron doesn’t stop at books, there’s a film too. If you haven’t yet seen Sensitive: The Untold Story then grab a copy (rent or buy options below) and watch it. It stars Alanis Morisette and has subtitles available in nine different languages.
Sensitive – The Untold Story portrays many examples of highly sensitive people thriving and blossoming – and shows what happens when not only highly sensitive people understand their own traits, but what happens when those around them who are not HSPs understand and support them too. When the 80% understands high sensitivity it helps us all.
4. Your Child is Normal
When a child behaves differently to his or her peers parents worry. You ask yourself if there is something wrong with your child.
When your child’s friends LOVE birthday parties but your child wants to avoid them like the plague.
When your friends’s kids cope with numerous after-school activities but your child is emotionally and physically wiped out just attending school.
When your child seems affected by the smallest injustice, yet his classmates don’t even register an issue.
When your child wears their heart on their sleeve and is so much more intense and emotional than their friends.
When your child thrives on routines, is in pieces if you stray from their routine, yet you see other children cope perfectly well with change and surprises and late nights.
You start questioning what is wrong. You start asking why. You ask how.
Elaine Aron states:
“Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population – too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.”
Let’s be clear. There is NOTHING wrong with being highly sensitive. It is not a disorder.
5. High Sensitivity is Innate
When a parent first discovers that they are raising a HSC it’s often not the only revelation.
Elaine Aron explains: “…not one but two studies have come out that found certain genes significantly associated with high scores on the HSP Scale.”
In other words there is a genetic link when it comes to sensitivity; many parents discover that they themselves are highly sensitive too. And THAT is truly a lightbulb moment. It’s the moment in adulthood that a highly sensitive person begins to understand themselves.
And that helps you parent your HSCs.
DOES summarises the highly sensitive trait in a nutshell and is a great way to help parents understand their HSCs.
D = depth of processing
O = overstimulation
E = emotional reactivity
S = sensing the subtle
For more information on this head over to Evidence for DOES.
7. HS Misunderstood as Shyness
Has your child been labelled as shy? I know I was my entire childhood. I watched from the sidelines first and took time to warm up, even at my grandparent’s house.
Shyness is a learned behaviour but being highly sensitive is inate. The two things are different, but family or a teacher sticking a label of shy on a child has a long lasting impact.
“This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.”” Elaine Aron.
So if your child has had their behaviour labelled as shyness, it is worth looking more deeply!
The Highly Sensitive Person – Aron’s website.
Over to You
Are you aware of Elaine Aron’s work? Have you read The Highly Sensitive Child? In what way has Elaine Aron’s resources helped you?