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What do you think when someone says their child is "high needs"?

Poll Results: What do you think when someone says their child is "high needs"?

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 21% (87)
    Yup, I feel for you, so is mine.
  • 3% (15)
    You haven't seen high needs 'til you spent a day with my kid!
  • 6% (25)
    All babies are high needs.
  • 0% (3)
    There's no such thing as high needs.
  • 16% (69)
    That must be so tough!
  • 1% (8)
    My kids are easy because I practice AP with them.
  • 3% (16)
    The parent(s) just need to ____ (set some boundaries and limits, try a routine or schedule, etc.)
  • 41% (169)
    Some kids are high needs but the term seems to be really over-used/incorrectly used.
  • 4% (17)
    Other (explain)
409 Total Votes  
post #1 of 208
Thread Starter 
I'm really curious what people actually think when they hear this. I won't elaborate more until you guys have a chance to vote/respond.
post #2 of 208

Since you asked to spare the sugar-coating, I think parents these days are over-eager for labels. If their child doesn't have a bona fide medical or psychological issue, then they will opt for something generic as "high needs" or "special needs". I think there is a munchausen-by-proxy-like need for sympathy and praise.

 

I was thinking about this yesterday because I ran across a thread somewhere around here about a child with an oral fixation. I was curious because my almost 7 y/o chews on his legos, playmobils, and erasers. No biggie. I tell him to cut it out. Well, apparently there is a label bandwagon to jump on for that too. If I was one of those moms I would latch onto that and say woe is me, my son has sensory processing issues, feel sorry for me and then pat me on the back for doing such a great job coping with my special high needs child. I think it is getting kind of ridiculous, and feel sorry for all the kids whose parents use their issues to try to feel better about themselves.

 

Honestly, some kids can just be fussy, picky, bratty, or weird. Work through it.  

post #3 of 208
I believe people when they say they have a high needs baby. If they feel overwhelmed they probably are and need support. Everyone has different thresholds for stress. Some people have really fussy babies and don't seem bothered by it, others have relatively easy babies but feel totally drained. I was lucky and got the worlds easiest baby.....that is until she learned to walk!
post #4 of 208

I think, I prefer "spirited child."

post #5 of 208

I don't want to hurt feelings but yeah I voted that some kids are obviously high needs but the term is super over-used. I think it really takes away from the high needs kiddos and their parents as well. If everyone is throwing that term around (I have heard it more than once IRL to a kid who was cranky because a toy was taken away or something) then the people with the kids who really do need a little extra help (or the parents too) just kinda fall by the wayside.

 

ETA: Crunchy Mommy, spill the beans! 

post #6 of 208

I'm not sure exactly how to answer this question.  I think I have responded differently based on the situation.  I've met people who've complained about how "high needs" their baby is and I admit to having been flabbergasted and thought "you haven't seen high needs till you've spent a day with my kid".... basically that their baby seemed insanely "easy" compared to mine.  But I've also met babies who seemed to be even more work than mine, but who's parents just took it all in stride.  I think scottishmommy is right that everyone's stress threshold is different.  Perhaps there is not exactly an objective scale of "high-neededness", but rather when you hear a parent say their kid is "high needs" they really mean that they are feeling stressed out/overwhelmed with parenting that child.  Or maybe that's not quite right... I do think there are some babes out there who are relatively "easy" and some who are relatively "high-needs" (objectively speaking), but how a parent might "rate" them on that "scale" is subjective.  The important thing is that if a mama (or papa) is feeling overwhelmed and reaches out for help we take them at face value, no matter how "easy" their kid might look from the outside.

post #7 of 208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldavis24 View Post

I don't want to hurt feelings but yeah I voted that some kids are obviously high needs but the term is super over-used. I think it really takes away from the high needs kiddos and their parents as well. If everyone is throwing that term around (I have heard it more than once IRL to a kid who was cranky because a toy was taken away or something) then the people with the kids who really do need a little extra help (or the parents too) just kinda fall by the wayside.


 

Yeah that.  I do believe there are high needs kids, but I don't think that every kid labeled that actually is high needs.

post #8 of 208

Sometimes (and this probably depends on who it is I'm talking to) I wonder if the child is completely normal in terms of what sort of supervision/discipline/attention they need, but the parent has a weird idea of what a kid should be.  But I have also had several of the thoughts you've listed, again probably depending on the parent and maybe the child, too.

post #9 of 208
I voted somewhat contradictory answers. "I feel for you, so is mine" and " all babies are high needs." my feelings are probably even more contradictory than that. Yeah some babies are higher needs than others, but really all (or most) babies are pretty high needs. It's legit but probably overused too.
post #10 of 208

Depending on the child/parent in question, I alternate between having sympathy for them and wanting to lend them one of my darlings for a day so they can see what high needs is all about. Sometimes I span the bridge and feel both! *lol* Having two kids who, in completely different ways, have garnered comments from friends and acquaintances along the lines of "Wow, better you than me," I can see how high needs can come to play in a number of different ways and I'm sure I don't have the corner on that market.

post #11 of 208

I voted "That must be so tough!". I had a fairly "easy" baby and feel that for the most part, it was the luck of the draw. I absolutely believe that some babies are naturally higher maintenance than others.

 

In some cases, I do think parents may incorrectly perceive their baby as high needs because they have unrealistic expectations. I would have thought my baby was high needs too if I had tried to force her into an unnatural eating/sleeping schedule, then had to deal with the fall-out from that.


Edited by Snowflake777 - 4/16/11 at 2:04am
post #12 of 208

I think it depends on the parent-child combo as well, and on the intensity of a particular need. (Can you tell I'm one of those SPD mamas coming out of the woodwork to comment on your post?) ;)

 

One of my kiddos is diagnosed with SPD and if he were the son of the guy down the street with nigh-on infinite energy who loves to do hands-on projects all the time, he'd probably never have been diagnosed. On the flipside, if he were the son of my parents instead of their grandson, he'd probably have been shipped off to military academy by the age of 2. Being my son, he's had a diagnosis and extra supports and resources since he was a toddler -- because hey, every kid needs to eat and sleep some time -- but he's also growing up knowing that people come with all kinds of quirks and SPD is just another kind of quirk, like his dad's inability to shut his brain off at night leading to random web domain purchases and grand project ideas at 3am, and his mom's need to walk with canes like a little old lady. (Actually, my grandmothers are both little old ladies at 90 and they can beat me down the driveway and back any day.)

 

It does depend on the personality combo. I'm sure there are some parents who wouldn't have blinked an eye at his needs and others who would have had him medicated. Likewise with my daughter's intense (there's that word again!!) need for social time and constant talking, or the inability to ever put her down as an infant. Depends on your own quirks and what is deal-able to you.
 

 Quote:
Originally Posted by La Limena View Post

Since you asked to spare the sugar-coating, I think parents these days are over-eager for labels. If their child doesn't have a bona fide medical or psychological issue, then they will opt for something generic as "high needs" or "special needs". I think there is a munchausen-by-proxy-like need for sympathy and praise.

 

I was thinking about this yesterday because I ran across a thread somewhere around here about a child with an oral fixation. I was curious because my almost 7 y/o chews on his legos, playmobils, and erasers. No biggie. I tell him to cut it out. Well, apparently there is a label bandwagon to jump on for that too. If I was one of those moms I would latch onto that and say woe is me, my son has sensory processing issues, feel sorry for me and then pat me on the back for doing such a great job coping with my special high needs child. I think it is getting kind of ridiculous, and feel sorry for all the kids whose parents use their issues to try to feel better about themselves.

 

Honestly, some kids can just be fussy, picky, bratty, or weird. Work through it.  



 

post #13 of 208

I feel for a person who is dealing with true high needs. That fits a medical description. Babies I don't think are high needs unless its something obvious medically. Because honestly all babies are high needs in some extent since they do depend on us 100%. I also think a lot of the parents create their own problems and might turn the eye and rather then deal with an issue its easier to say oh well they are high needs or special. And people see things they want to see from reading books, talking to others and so on. 

 

I truly do feel for the ones that are honest and real about it. But I have a harder time believing people because it is so overly used now a days. 

 

post #14 of 208

I voted the "some are but it's an overused label" one. And I considered my ds1 to be high-maintenance as a baby.  I prefer that term over high-needs - I see high-needs as requiring unusual circumstances or special needs. Because yes, if I tried to do anything other than hold him and be engaged with him, and walking him where he wanted to go or nurse him as soon as he needed, or attempted to walk away when he was sleeping, then he would often cry and be very upset.  BUT, he was totally consolable and wonderful and enjoyable, if I just dropped my expectation to do anything other than take care of him.   :)   So, in that way, he was a pretty normal baby.  If his needs were harder for me to meet, I would have called him "high-needs". 

DS2, by the way, was easy-goingas a baby.  So I know my ds1 was much higher up on the needy spectrum.   ;)

post #15 of 208
I think the number of true 'high need' kids is pretty small. A lot of high need babies seem to stop crying so much when they are switched to a hypoallergenic formula or allergen free diet. A lot of high need toddlers magically calm down when they are switched to a decent bedtime/schedule. Also consequences for behavior are important, imo.

Sometimes you see 'high need' children go on to have other diagnoses (SPD,ASD). That makes sense, I think.

So I guess I'll be rude and say that when I read a post about a high needs/spirited 6 year old who is up until midnight and likes to do things like paint the couch I eyesroll.gif and think that child would be a lot less 'high needs' with some logical rules in place.
post #16 of 208

I go back and forth. My DD1 was HN even at 8 now she still is so draining compared to her younger siblings. As she got older though, multiple disorders showed themselves but back when she was a never sleeping, screaming all day long until age 1 child, who didn't not sleep a single second on top of me until she was 3, high needs was the only thing I could call her. Possessed monster child just didn't sound that great. lol.gif But then I run into parents all the time who use the term because their baby does not take a 3 hour nap  or won't sit in a bouncy seat most of the day or because the toddler is well, a 2 year who does have feelings and emotions of their own. I consider those parents maybe people who have unrealistic expectations of what children do. And then I get the parents who had an insanely easy first baby, think all children are like that, the rest of us just didn't do x, y, and z with our children and then get another child who is more normal and struggle to cope. And honestly, there are parents who just struggle being parents, not to say that all of us don't on some days, but some struggle with the basic parenting tasks more so then others. I run various things for parents around my town so I spend a lot of time talking to moms, and hear/see all sorts of things. 

post #17 of 208

I think the term is overused, but there definitely is such a thing as a high-needs child.  DS had severe reflux as an infant, and now as a toddler has many digestive issues, including several bad allergies.  There's a long list of things we can't eat around here.  He is a terrible sleeper because of his medical issues, and is often up in the middle of the night screaming if he eats something he shouldn't have had.  He is 19 mo and has never STTN- in fact he never sleep more than a few hours at a time.  I definitely consider him high-needs.  

 

However, I've had several people tell me their child is high-needs just because he/she is spirited.  My son is also very spirited (curious, silly, stubborn, likes to run everywhere and explore/climb everything), but I don't consider that to be part of his "high-needs" label.  A friend at a playgroup yesterday was lamenting about her "high-needs" daughter who STTN, can eat anything, and has not a single medical issue to speak of- she simply is a spirited toddler.  I felt like that was definitely a misuse of the term.

post #18 of 208

I chose the first option.  Because my first was a high needs baby.  She didn't fit just 1 or 2 of the criteria.  She fit all 12 (the only exception was that she slept really well at night - just not during the day).  And when I would talk to people about her, it wasn't so others would feel sorry for me; it was to see if anyone had else who was going/had gone thru something similar had any advice.  Unfortunately, the only other person I found was also a new mother looking for answers, so it usually turned into a b&^$% fest because we were the only one who understood what the other was feeling!  Everyone else seemed to have "perfect" babies and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. DD1 has since grown into an intelligent, rambunctious, active, loving, amazingly spirited child, but those first 15ish months were hard.  I was stressed all the time because I felt like a failure.  What was I doing so wrong that my kid screamed all the time?  If I were a better mother, she would be happy.  Etc, etc.

 

Now dd2 is almost 3 months old and while she's not as easy a baby as I had hoped to have, she is by no means "high needs".  I know the difference in my own family but who I am I to judge someone else's assessment of their family?  If another parent says that their lo is high needs, I can only offer a shoulder to cry on, to let them know that they aren't alone, that it isn't their fault, and that it will get better.

post #19 of 208
I had a high needs child (my first) and I picked the first option. Sure, some people might over use the term. Whatevs. I'm not judge and jury on that stuff.
post #20 of 208
Quote:
Originally Posted by La Limena View Post

Since you asked to spare the sugar-coating, I think parents these days are over-eager for labels. If their child doesn't have a bona fide medical or psychological issue, then they will opt for something generic as "high needs" or "special needs". I think there is a munchausen-by-proxy-like need for sympathy and praise.

 

 

I agree.  Everyone wants a label.  It's like a fashion statement.  You rarely hear "eh.. he's just regular".  Everybody has it worse than the last parent.

 

It's sad because there are kids who truly HAVE issues, and I never believe it til I actually experience that child for a long time.  Otherwise, I just figure the parent wants to draw attention, or have an excuse for the behavior.  Most babies are fussy, not really "high needs", or toddlers are Busy.. not "high needs".  Three year olds are opinionated, it's not "high needs.  Some kids are easily frustrated, or have a low tolerance for something.  It's not "high needs".  

 

I really get annoyed with the word "spirited".  I hate that label.  

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