Friday, September 11, 2009

My Highly Sensitive Child

A few weeks ago, my friends and I were together for a play date. It was a small group (4 two year olds and 2 babies) and the kids have been playing together for about 2 years now. All was going well until the adult conversation turned to the subjects of preschool and potty training. Both subjects came with a lot of anxiety and I could sense Z getting more and more tense as we spoke. It was a difficult situation for me, these were topics that I needed support with, yet the conversation was stressing my child out.

At lunch time, we went up to the kitchen and Z would not leave my lap. He ate his strawberries and refused to sit anywhere other than my lap. One of the babies was eating his lunch and started to cry for more food. Z began to shake and quietly whispered in my ear, "Can we go home?". I was proud of him for recognizing a stressful situation and for using his words instead of tears. Unfortunately I was waiting for my salad to be delivered and whispered back that we would leave when it arrived. I asked if he wanted to go out on the porch where it was quiet....he quickly agreed. This worked until the other kids followed him out and then he came back inside. Once the baby started to cry again, Z could not hold his tears in anymore....he was a mess.

Luckily my salad arrived and I was able to leave with him. I had tried to console him in the other room but it was no use. I left feeling miserable....why is this always happening?

My friend K, emailed me later that day and told me not to worry about what happened at playgroup. She reassured me that Z is just sensitive, much like her daughter and then she recommended that I read "the highly sensitive child" by Dr. Elaine N. Aron. I have known K and her daughter for 2 1/2 years now and I have seen her daughter get overwhelmed in certain situations and need to leave. I knew that she and Z were similar in that way and that is why we requested that they be in the same preschool class. What I didn't know is that K now has strategies at hand to help her deal with her daughter's sensitivity. Having already done a lot of research on Sensory Issues and having very little luck with fitting Z into one of the many categories (he does mildly fit into the Auditory Dysfunction category) I was up for anything. S and I took the test online and Z answered true to 15 out of the 23 statements. We thought that getting the book might be a good idea, so we ordered it and picked up K's copy to hold us over until it arrived.

This book has been a godsend for S and I and has helped us to understand what Z goes through on a daily basis. The book is full of strategies on how to better raise him to be a happy and confident child. There is nothing wrong with my him, in fact research says that 15-20% of the world's population are "Highly Sensitive People". He just needs to learn ways to cope with the things that make him anxious, nervous and shy and celebrate all of the wonderful things that being sensitive has to offer. We feel that we now have a tool that will allow us to better parent him (this includes a list of strategies on how to prepare him for his first day of school on Wednesday).

What is amazing about this book is that I too identify with so much of it myself (I guess sensitive people give birth to sensitive children). It has helped me to reflect upon my own childhood and the situations which brought me so much stress and anxiety. I might just have to go out and buy the Highly Sensitive person to see if it can help me better handle my adult life :) If you are going through similar issues with your child, I highly recommend you check out the website.

Another interesting tidbit is that "Highly Sensitive Children" are usually delayed when it comes to potty that explains why I had so many issues :)


Sarah Moore said...

We, well I, am loving the Spirited Child and the accompanying workbook as we work through the same things with O. Just took this test and scored a 19. We were concerned that O. might have Sensory Processing Disorder, but it seems more and more as if he is in the same 20% - it is amazing how much I am learning about myself with these readings. I am going to order your book tonight and look at the adult piece too. Thanks for sharing, hugs!

Mesina said...

Hello there! You stopped by my blog today and while I was still here I thought I'd come pay you a visit :)

I have 3 kids and my middle child is very sensitive. He's the only boy between two girls and he's required a different set of techniques and cues from me than my girls have. We've learned to adjust to most situations, but I can totally identify with you here! You are not at all alone, and I just might check that book out myself! Thanks for sharing xx

Amanda {My Life Badly Written} said...

Happy Saturday SITS Sharefest!

Ive read a few of your last posts - congratulations on your impending arrival!

I too have a 4 year old and he had only started school 1 week before I gave birth (five weeks early!) to our new baby boy.

Good luck, I am now following your blog! I hope you pop over to read mine!

Neuffj said...

I guess that means I am in for a treat when I have kids. Happy Saturday Sharefest! The Neuff

Neuffj said...

I guess that means I will be in for a treat when I have children, as I am highly sensitive. I am just popping in from SITS. Nice post! Happy Saturday Sharefest! The Neuff

OHmommy said...

I was a sensitive child. My SEVEN YEAR OLD is a sensitive child. I read the book and could write a book of my own dealing with so many issues.

Embrace it. Never be discouraged.

Connie Weiss said...

That is wonderful that you found a book to help you parent your child. I'm still looking for our book.

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