Mothering the Highly Sensitive Child - Mothering Forums
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Finding your Tribe Archives 2008 > Mothering the Highly Sensitive Child
Calm's Avatar Calm 06:24 PM 09-21-2004
Hi, seeking kinship in this particlar area. It has been really tough for us with our dd. It has MANY benefits, I mean she is angelic and affectionate and gifted. But parents of sensitive children know what I am talking about when I say it's hard.

I find that people often say to me "Hey, you've got it easy, your child is perfect, what would you know?". But she is so easily affected by any harshness and discomfort. She is slow to take on new experiences, curious, but almost fearful. She only just attempted to pat a dog recently, and it still ended in tears.

I see other kids running off and jumping and trying all these new things, and there is my child, sitting watching or quietly engrossed in something. She needs my support for everything. I don't mind, I have learned to embrace this about her and see it as a gift. But with all the attention going to spirited children, I was seeking kin in parenting the very sensitive gentle kids, as only parents of these children know how heartbreaking and difficult it can be. She is often bullied, never bullies, has to have the tags cut off her shirts cos they irritate her, and prefers soft clothing.

Anyone on my wavelength here?


Divina's Avatar Divina 02:08 AM 09-27-2004
Hi there--I've got 4 kids, and all but the last are highly sensitive, though to different degrees. And the last one may be, too, but it's hard to tell yet--he's only 7 months, and is less sensitive than my 3 yr old.

Have you read "Raising the Highly Sensitive Child"? I liked it a lot. After having read "The Highly Sensitive Person", I found that my SO and I are also both highly sensitive, although he is more so than I am.

Rowan, the 3 yr old, is apparently the most sensitive of the bunch. He doesn't mind tags, although he prefers knits and softer clothes. Tends to shyness or caution in new situations. SO's folks told him that Rowan was "too fearful" and intimated we were coddling him. SO was very firm with his answer, that we do not believe in forcing him to interact if he's not ready, etc. This happened a year or so ago, and R is becoming much less shy and more self-confident, so we're feeling vindicated. He still gets cautious in truly new situations, but is more friendly when meeting new people.
Calm's Avatar Calm 02:56 AM 09-27-2004
Hi! You found my thread! I see two of your children are older, how did the sensitivity change as they grew?

I get told all the time I coddle my daughter, or I shouldn't hug her when she cries all the time. I read the toddler chapter of the highly s C, but I was left wondering a little. Maybe I should have read the rest! I often wonder if I have contributed to things. I am very 'attached' to her, which is a good thing apparently, but she seems to use me as a base so much more often than other children her age.

I also wonder about her attachment to me. Moms on these boards talk of how their attached kids can be without them confidently because they are attached, but this isn't the case with my daughter. I can't leave her in a strange place, or even in a strange room for a minute at a friend's house.

Glad to hear from you, and am willing to learn any ways of easing these little ones into the world with confidence.

Thank you.
Divina's Avatar Divina 05:19 PM 09-27-2004
How old is your DD? That definitely makes a difference. I read the whole SC book, as I felt it would be good to read about the baby part even though we'd passed that point, and I wanted to know what might come up in future. If you haven't read HSP yet, you might want to. I found I needed to go back and review in conjunction with the Child book.

One of the things I liked a lot about the SC book was how she described the strengths and weaknesses of both the highly sensitive and not-as-sensitive parent. My SO and I are both HS, but to different degrees, and it's good to know where we might need to pay more attention or not always rely on our instinctive responses.

My older kids didn't have the benefit of the book, but I tend to be an "instinctive" mama and feel like they're doing pretty well. My DD, who is the oldest (19 today!), is probably the least sensitive, is very social and outgoing, but notices and remembers a lot of detail about the world, people, etc. She has probably the easiest "type" of sensitive personality. However, she uses her outer persona to mask a very sensitive internal person--she has some tendency to depression (as do I) and went through periodic episodes of cutting herself for some time. Luckily, we found a good therapist who didn't insist on her being locked up, and she's doing much, much better now. He viewed it, as I did, as a very alarming coping method, but not as dangerous as others she could have chosen (drugs, alcohol, unsafe sex).

My oldest son, who is 16 now, is something of a clown. He seems to find that the easiest way to deal with stressful/new situations, although he can be (and will be) quiet and attentive when needed. He tends to have a very few very close friends, and takes a very long time to accept people into his circle. He tends to hang back and watch in new situations, even today, until he feels comfortable. However, he has a sense of adventure, and his hobbies include Kendo and fire-spinning. (My SO taught this to both teens, and they all three do that).

The best thing I did for them, I think, was to assure them that their way of seeing the world was normal and valid, and help them find constructive ways of coping. In my daughter's case, this came later than it should have--however, she's always been pretty darn good at masking her feelings when she wants to. Frankly, I feel like she needed to have adult status and control over her life several years before she was legally and practically ready to get it.
lovetomom's Avatar lovetomom 04:40 AM 10-01-2004
i can be your kin. my dd sounds so much like your child and is so sensitive and needy and beautiful and affectionate. i find myself torn between embracing her and wanting sometimes to try to control the situation and thrust her into a social situation. I don't do the later, without support because I know how she would react.
I find it exhausting and i find myself questionning my parenting up to this point and how i have gone wrong.

thanks for writing about it.
Divina's Avatar Divina 11:01 PM 10-02-2004
Lovetomom, if your child is "highly sensitive", it means she is fully aware of a much wider range of sensory input than most kids, and needs more time to process and filter it. As a result, she may need a longer period of time to adjust to new situations ... and a situation that does not seem new to most people will be "new" to her because some variables have changed. For example, if you go to the same playground frequently, she may treat it as new because there are more or different kids there than the last time. If you *don't* push her to go faster than she's ready for, she will gradually learn to process the barrage of information quicker and more easily, and she will gain confidence. My son, who just turned three, will now walk up to kids he doesn't know and introduce himself, after he's had a few minutes to assimilate what's going on. Only two or three weeks ago, he wasn't doing that. He still needs about 45 minutes to lose his "shyness" with new adults or completely new places.
I do recommend the books "The Highly Sensitive Person" and "Raising the Highly Sensitive Child". The author's last name is Aron, and I think her first name is Elaine--starts with an E, I'm prety sure.
Good luck, and don't be too hard on yourself.
Calm, what's your experience?
Bekka's Avatar Bekka 02:43 AM 10-03-2004
Us too!

We are parenting a highly sensitive child. I was wondering "what was wrong" and posted last spring about her needs to adjust to animals in her environment after a very enclosed winter, among many other things. Someone recommended Highly Sensitive Child, and I read it, and I think there were something like 22 criteria, and she hits like 19 of them! Okay, maybe the numbers are off a bit, but she had all but two or three.

I asked our pediatrician about it, as he may have been the one to recommend an OT or something like that to work on some of the issues, but he said that working with her slowly, letting her approach situations at her own speed, etc. which is all what we do, was right, and that probably right now she doesn't need _more_ than that.

After last spring, she worked so hard to adjust to seeing animals, walking next to dogs on the sidewalk, and was almost able to *touch* animals (small dogs, cats, no big animals) and we were at the park on a day that she had no nap (bad idea anyway) and someone had their greyhound off the leash! She felt like the dog was charging her several times. I was so mad! But I had tired baby and older daughter had bowel issues, and so we just went home, instead of me talking to the owner.

What is so hard is that we really know our kid, and what she needs to adjust, and people are always like "oh, this dog likes kids". Well, it doesn't matter how friendly the dog is, it's a DOG, and it needs to be in its own space. My friend has an old blind cat, and she made such huge progress that she can be in the same room as the cat, although she spends a significant portion of the time saying, "________, please give me space."

The hardest thing for me is remembering and having patience with *her* speed of adjustment. Sometimes I get so frustrated and impatient. Especially when all the snow melted and I wanted to get outside, and it took like two months for her to _like_ it. The other thing that was hard is that dd #1 had no stranger anxiety at ALL, and was friendly with everyone the whole time. This one, dd #2, our sensitive one, started stranger anxiety at 6 months and finally adjusted to a few well-known grownups when she was almost 3. Dh and I just spent a couple of years taking turns with the kids b/c that's what she needed. No one else was OK. Our family all lives far away; perhaps grandparents would have been okay; she always adjusted to grandmothers (both sides) within a day or two. I don't know why that is.

Anyhow, ME TOO, and sorry for the "vent"--exciting that other people totally know what precious, sensitive kids we have!
Heddah's Avatar Heddah 07:03 PM 10-11-2004
Yep, it's Elaine Aron, and you can read about her stuff online too (besides the books) - - I have found it super helpful (as an HSP myself).

I joke with my DH - "Sorry, I'm just HSP'ing right now."
beanma's Avatar beanma 09:31 PM 10-11-2004
hey y'all,

i don't know if we really fit in here or not, but maybe. haven't read the aron book, but did read the kurcinka book, "kids parents and power struggles" where she talks a lot about temperament and just borrowed the "spirited child" one, though i don't think of dd1 as spirited in the running amok at the park sense, but it seems to have a lot of good reviews so i thought i'd check it out. in the kpps book she talks about the different kinds of sensitivity -- that one person might be sensitive to tags in clothes and another might be sensitive to noises, etc, etc. does the aron book go into much about that sort of thing?

dd1 is my sensitive about some things, but not others. she can be very cautious in new situations and takes a long time to warm up. she's the kind of kid who at 2 would sit on my lap for the first hour of playgroup before deciding to join in she's a lot more comfortable now, but she much prefers the company of adults to other kids. i think other kids are too unpredictable to her. she never knows when they might invade her space. she's taking a dance class now and a few other classes, too, and she loves the teachers (all women), but could care less if the kids were there and in fact would probably love it if they weren't!

she's really sensitive to other folks being in her space. she often doesn't want folks to talk to her either. right now she's in a very negative mode. (been going on for, oh say, all of her 3.5 yrs.) if a clerk at a store comments on her pretty dress dd1 will say "it's NOT a pretty dress!" rather emphatically.

she's sensitive to noises, though less so now than as an infant. it's kind of random. i can use the food processor, but not the hand mixer. can't use the vacuum.

she's sensitive to a lot of conflict or drama in stories. she gets pretty worried about characters in books/video, but doesn't seem too concerned if a real person gets upset.

she's 3.5 and i think that's a lot of it, but she's also more different from her peers it seems to me so maybe we belong here, too...
Calm's Avatar Calm 01:14 AM 10-12-2004

My dd is patting dogs and cats! She used to absolutely freak out, and still does if they bark. But now, she is not only patting them, she puts her hand to their nose and strokes around their face and talks to them. Only on this thread would mamas know what a big deal that is. Just goes to show that if I let her do things in her own way, in her own time, with gentle exposure without coaxing, she finds her way. She has come out of her shell a lot too. Sings in front of groups of people. If she hears a loud noise, she just asks "what's that noise?". So, I am sharing this so all ye parents of sensitive children can know that their tender spirits have their own pace - not that we all didn't already know that! .
snowflake's Avatar snowflake 07:56 AM 10-12-2004
Wow... thistotally sounds like ME as a child!! I had no idea there was a name/diagnosis for it...

I couldn't stand tags or certain fibers in clothing. I was picky about shoes (they really did hurt!). I ended in tears near unfamiliar people or animals... oh, I could go on and on - everything here rang so many bells! I never realized... but it makes sense.

My oldest son is extremely sensitive. He is 5 now and starting to learn to handle things in his own ways though. I have never pushed him into social situations and it's been hard at time (we get those same remarks about coddling him) but I wasn't about to force him to interact if he didn't feel safe, kwim? Anyway, he is doing great now! He is still cautious but has learned how to find his own space when he needs it and that seems to really help his confidence level. I've emphasized to him that ANY time he needs to he can go upstairs to the loft and play by himself and that seems to help him feel more secure, just the knowing he can leave anytime if the people are overwhelming him.

Anyway, (((hugs))) mamas and from my perspective, keep doing what you're doing - they eventually start to move into interaction on their own little schedules.
Divina's Avatar Divina 05:23 PM 10-16-2004
Calm, that's great! I know what you mean about breakthroughs. Rowan has suddenly started asking other kids at the playground what their names are--which, as y'all know, is huge for an HSC. I feel vindicated after all the "you're coddling him" remarks!

He doesn't seem to have really specific physical sensitivities, but he doesn't like shirts with collars and prefers stretchy pants. He's more sensitive to chaotic situations, new situations, anything too unpredictable. But he's warming up to new situations if someone he trusts is with him, and it sounds like it might be fun ... although (sigh) not always.
Calm's Avatar Calm 06:11 PM 10-16-2004
Some of you parenting HSC know this from another thread, but we just went through a traumatic ordeal that meant I had to restrain dd while she had a canula put in her arm at the hospital. Now, here on this thread, can I just scream?


Ok, good. Now, for a HSC, this has taken its toll. Not that I would ever take from the experience of other personality types in children, this ordeal would be bad for anyone. But my little one is still bloody processing it, almost two weeks later. She finally started talking about it, which has helped. But now she tantrums, she didn't before. It makes me wonder how these events affect the HSC, you know? How much is imbedded in their psyche, like wounded fairies.
Laughingmommy's Avatar Laughingmommy 03:24 AM 10-17-2004
Originally Posted by Calm
But now she tantrums, she didn't before. It makes me wonder how these events affect the HSC, you know? How much is imbedded in their psyche, like wounded fairies.
We vaccinate, and after a particular set of blood tests (first at a lab - totally traumatizing and didn't work, then at a first-rate Children's Hospital - great!) and #1's vaccinations and watching her little sister get mauled (1st checkup and vaccinations), my little 2-year-old baby freaked out. For real, like 8 months of playing shots. It was every day, all day for weeks and weeks and weeks. I had many tears about it, sure that I had traumatized her. I hated myself for having my kids vaccinated, I hated that I bothered with checkups for our second, I hated everything I did that made my #1 OBSESSED with needles.

Then I had a realization. It's not a big deal. The fact that my daughter was playing nurse/doctor meant that she was working through it. At whatever pace was appropriate for her. The way to help her through the trauma would not be to stay with my guilt and shame, it's to really LISTEN to her and let her tell me her pain (trauma remains trauma if the traumatized don't feel like they can relate the experience to someone else). She wasn't crying anymore, why was I? She was the one whose psyche was wounded, not mine. So why was I here stuck at the point of "injury" still? So I changed. I played with her. I really played with her. I begged for mercy when she came with shots. I played a MEAN nurse who chased children around and restrained them (only for half a moment). The play extended to other injury stuff. I would play an injured person seeking medical assistance. Or someone who felt like getting a checkup ("Good morning, doctor. I was wondering if I could consult with you about the general condition of my elbow today."). #1 even named a blanket "hospital blanket" because when we were on the blanket, we were at the hospital/doctor's office. It was great. The needle obsession stopped. My guilt was gone. Boundaries set. #1 got over it.... sort of. Good enough.

The best part? The next time we went to a checkup (i.e. SHOTS), I was totally different. I didn't cringe in anticipation of the dreaded pain I was inflicting on my kids. I was really matter-of-factly. I explained to everyone that I was going to try not to be nervous, that I was going to remember that I want my children to get the shots because I believe they will protect them from certain illnesses. The nurse was SOOOOOOO impressed. My kids screamed and cried as usual. Me? I was totally great! I felt no guilt. Just a lot of sympathy, and empathy. I realized that before, I was totally wrapped up in my own guilt and my own needle traumas.

Each time since, I've been really open and connected with our doctor and nurse. I feel unapologetic for my kids (skinny) and my choices (super crunchy and distrustful of any conventional wisdom). But also very open and appreciative of others' suggestions. Not defensive. And I've become open to consider ways to make my children feel more comfortable. Like, one time, I brought books to read to #2 while she got shots. She hurt like hell still, but she was pretty distracted. She had 4 shots that time (bad Mommy! we live far from the doctor, so we pack in the shots!), and she started crying after the 3rd one. The 4th one was heartbreaking. But, with the book pages open, after a while, she indicated that it was time to finish reading. So I did, over her crying.

I'm really sensitive. I'm really really sensitive. But sometimes, I wish I weren't. And sometimes, when I pretend I'm different, I'm not as sensitive. Sometimes, I pretend to be matter-of-factly butch tom-boy woman. No care mud, no care scratch. No care neat delicate. It's freeing. I wonder if I encourage my kids to stay within their realm of comfort where it's more comfortable for me. I try to remember that I'm alpha dog. I'm mama. They model after me, as according to their personalities. With dogs, I'm truly petrified. When I'm tired, I see dogs everywhere. Tree trunks, shadows, anything and everything turns into a dog. But sometimes, when we go out, I'll pretend not to be petrified. I'll talk to dog owners and to dogs and touch dogs and sometimes touch people. Even though I'm terrified of touch. I find that even though my kids won't go up to people or to dogs, they are watching me. Very carefully. After 4 years, #1 sometimes runs up to kids and chats with them. #2 grabs on to me for dear life if someone looks at her. But she's okay with pointing to people and animals and talking about them. I just make sure that she's far from reach, feet off the ground, then she's comfortable. And I make sure she feels safe when I touch an animal. Sometimes, she'll get closer for a better look.

I don't think my kids will ever not be sensitive. But I want to show them alternatives. And I want to demonstrate coping skills for sensitive people. As soon as I figure out what they might be! AND I want to show them that being sensitive is something to feel comfortable being. I'm trying to learn to be more matter-of-factly and to be more callous with people who don't understand so that maybe my kids will see that being a bitch is okay when you need to focus on yourself.

Speaking of tags, my kids were sensitive to polyester, polyester thread, buttons, snaps, elastic, everything. Even dyes in clothing! So much so that I learned to sew and got into organic fabrics. Just to name drop, I am the "P" (Pei) of "PM Organics." I dropped out before Marie (the "M" of "PM") opened shop. If your kids are REALLY sensitive, try hiring a seamstress to sew clothing out of fabrics and notions from Marie ( I've always been itchiest where seams are - highest points of contact and ALWAYS polyester or cotton-covered polyester thread. Even if the fabric is organic. I've been lobbying for Marie to acquire naturally-dyed fabrics, and she says if I dye it, she'll sell it. I can't seem to get it going.... what with dealing with sensitive kids and all....

Britishmum's Avatar Britishmum 04:21 AM 10-17-2004
I'm with you Calm!

We cut tags out of everything. I"ve learned how to shop for clothes. We go to Target, and dd chooses some things she likes (shorts and T shirts for summer, soft long pants and T shirts for winter). They have to be soft, no embroidery, no ties, buckles etc. I then buy several of each item. So she wears basically the same clothes, day in, day out.

She needed new shoes recently. I dreaded taking her shopping - last time it took four trips to persuade her to even get measured. Imagine my relief when the store still had the identical shoes that she has worn since last February. We just replaced hers with a size larger. I am wondering whether to go and buy a pair in each size so that we can wear the same shoes for the next ten years.
Laughingmommy's Avatar Laughingmommy 05:19 AM 10-17-2004
Originally Posted by Britishmum
I am wondering whether to go and buy a pair in each size so that we can wear the same shoes for the next ten years.
Do consider it. Just this week, my DD got to wear a new larger pair of the same shoes she outgrew. I had the new pair in a box in the closet. Easy transition.

I used to buy multiple shoes and clothing before. Very easy. Sometimes different colors. Boring, but easy. No dealing with shopping, no figuring out what to wear.

I've really wanted to start a business sewing clothing for sensitive people. But I've given up. It's too much work, it's too hard, and I have no time. And my own standards are too high for me to reach. Anyway, I have some tried and true solutions to making clothes feel good.

One thing I do is to make sure the underwear is very comfortable. No dyes, if possible. And have underwear and undershirt worn inside out. No seams against the skin then. And if there's any embellishments on the clothing, sometimes the undershirt is enough of a barrier. Socks inside out is also very nice. And when you take tags out, cut them, and then use tweezers to get as much of the remaining as you can. Tags are awful. They're just full of plastic and glue. #1 used to wear clothing inside out as a rule. It freaked people out a little... though not as much as seeing ME wear clothing inside out. Oh well! And #1 was very sensitive to "crotch overheat." So she did without diapers at home (very very hard on parental nerves) and didn't wear underwear after potty-training.

One thing that bother me is how clothing is cut a lot of times. Really loose at the armholes. People think it's more comfortable, but it isn't. It limits movement. It's easier for the manufacturers, but it's actually a poorer fit for movement. You want the armholes somewhat snug, and wave your arms to see if the shirt is designed correctly there. When the armholes are too big, fabric under the arms chafe a lot. And there's a lot more fabric.... more sweating, more irritability, more fabric to feel "bumpy" against. The same goes for under the crotch. And, watch how the shoulder on the shirt matches with your shoulder. If it's a really bad match, the shirt won't feel right. The weight of the shirt needs to fall on your shoulders but not off your shoulders, and definitely not too short on your shoulders (i.e. seam on your shoulder instead of next to shoulder - this can cause a lot of itchiness). I'm so bummed that the quality of clothing manufacturing and designing is so awful now. Largely because we rely on mass production which considers mass appeal instead of individual fit. Same with shoe manufacturing. Nothing feels so good as a few truly well-fitting, fine pieces of clothing and shoes. heck, I would take just two set of clothes and one pair of shoes right now. But I still suck at sewing too much to make a great outfit for myself.
Calm's Avatar Calm 06:18 AM 10-17-2004
Laughingmommy - I was going to use some quotes from your first post, then realized I'd have to quote the whole thing! What a great post! That was so helpful for me in many ways - thank you. I wonder, is sensitivity nature or nurture? Many HSC have parents who are the same. I suppose like many things it is a bit of both. I have shown myself that I can instill certain sensitivities in my child (empathy, etc), and yet, mostly she was sensitive from birth.

Britishmum, that is a great idea, and one I haven't thought of - the shoes. Sometimes you find something they are comfortable in (now and again LOL) and it is such a shame when it is worn out or no longer fits. Totally Off Topic - I am a British citizen, as in I have a Brit passport, but I have never lived there. Visited London briefly a few years back. My dad was English. I love the Brits!

Divina, I meant to say before and got carried away with myself instead - I think sensitivity is definitely seen greatest in their characters, too. My DD is just not into chaos at ALL. She seems interested in new situations, but she won't leave my side for long. This used to be my number one concern. My friends all have children who are real runabouts, so my measuring stick was opposite. It wasn't so much that I didn't like the behaviour, it was more that I was afraid she was damaged in some way. Oh, boy, mother's worries. I embrace it now, and I like gathering other mom's with similar children so we all remind ourselves that its ok.
momtokay's Avatar momtokay 03:42 PM 10-17-2004
Originally Posted by Britishmum
She needed new shoes recently. I dreaded taking her shopping - last time it took four trips to persuade her to even get measured. Imagine my relief when the store still had the identical shoes that she has worn since last February. We just replaced hers with a size larger. I am wondering whether to go and buy a pair in each size so that we can wear the same shoes for the next ten years.
Oh my gosh, my DD has had the same pair of t-straps in consecutively bigger sizes since her second pair of shoes at 18-mos. They were pretty much all she wanted to wear, though I did get her to wear a sandal this past summer (at 4-years old). I was so bummed when we went to the store and she had outgrown the biggest size of this particular shoe. She's very friendly and outgoing so getting her feet measured wasn't too hard, but finding a shoe she would wear was really hard. We even had to take back the first two pairs we bought and seemed to luck out on a very similar T-strap (just another brand) the third time. Who would have though shoe buying could be so hard.

I guess we would fit in here. My first is very sensitive. I've never read the book on sensitive kids, but I have read the spirited child book. DD#1 is an interesting paradox. She's extremely social and outgoing while being very sensitive at the same time. When she was an infant she loved going to this playgroup, but any time one of the babies would start crying she would become inconsolable. For about 6-mos I had to go home so many times with her when things (at the playgroup, restaurant, store, wherever) got overwhelming for her.

She's still very sensitive to noises, lights, etc. but she is learning to cope a bit. Now clothes is another story. Getting her socks "just so" every morning is a huge ordeal. It's the middle of october and she still rolls up her sleeves and pants as soon as she gets them on since she got used to having nothing on the bottom of her arms and legs during the summer. Eventually she'll adjust to the long sleeves and pants and she'll wear them well into the summer before I can convince her to go back to shorts. She only wants to wear knit pants (nothing woven like denim, khaki, etc.), tags are iffy.

She's also sensitive to "hot". Her food or her bath can barely luke warm and she'll complain about it being too hot. It's really hard for me to understand, but I try to remember to her it must really feel hot.

She's very empathetic and is really bothered when she sees someone who looks or sounds upset or angry whether in real life or a book. Telling her "no" can bring her to tears. In fact my mother once was humming/singing a tune using sounds very similar to "no" like "na, na, na" and that brought her to tears. LOL! She's finely tuned to my emotions which can be hard as when I have a bad day it's almost guaranteed she will too.

But, all in all, she's just a delightful little girl and just wouldn't be our Kaylin if she wasn't this sensitive little "fairy". Just thought I'd say "hi" as it seems like DD would fit in so well here.
Laughingmommy's Avatar Laughingmommy 05:48 PM 10-17-2004
Originally Posted by Calm
I wonder, is sensitivity nature or nurture? Many HSC have parents who are the same. I suppose like many things it is a bit of both. I have shown myself that I can instill certain sensitivities in my child (empathy, etc), and yet, mostly she was sensitive from birth.
With our kids, it's easy to see that they are naturally highly sensitive. I know I was the same. Just in the last few years, since becoming a mother, I've been more open to how the non-sensitive people operate. After delivering #1, my family moved in with us to help us take care of #1. I remember my Mom making the bath really hot and telling me that it was good for circulation (she wanted my "fatty self" to circulate away ). I couldn't take it. Way too hot. My sister said that she didn't think so, and put her own foot in to prove it. I couldn't even put my foot in, it was so hot to me. But afterwards, months afterwards, I was obsessed with the idea that if it was only perception, that maybe I could over-ride it. Now, 4 years later, I take super-hot baths. And I LOVE it! I used to have to add hot water periodically while bathing to keep the temperature evenly warm. Now, it's hot hot hot when I get in, and just warm hot when I get out. And it's just lovely. I just have to remind myself over and over that the feeling of body in hot water will be really really strong. And that it's okay. And that I don't have to run away. Because it's something I want. I don't chant this to myself so much now, it's like I've already re-written my brain's memory of how hot water is PAIN and DANGER.

The next thing I'm going to try is swimming. I've taken more swimming lessons than any one person should. And I can't swim. I can do all the strokes well, including the butterfly, at one point in my less muscle-atrophied past. But I can't breathe in the water. And I often can't keep myself from shaking. In the water and out. The temperature change just freaks me out. In the last few years, I've been able to sometimes calm my shaking for a few minutes at a time, but as soon as I lose focus, I remember that I'm in cold water which means PAIN and DANGER. I'm so nervous in the water that I can't move and breathe at the same time. Sometimes I start hyperventilating. Just standing in the water for half an hour is enough exercise for me to drain me for the day! And I want to give up on my dream of swimming, except that I love being in water so gosh darn much. So I just stand in the water, with a smile on my face, teeth chattering, eyes squinting, walking around, trying just to enjoy the moment. I'm working up my courage to sign up for a swimming class again. And I'm determined to follow through and to do a one-on-one class if that doesn't work.

Nobody is sensitive to everything. And I think motivation that comes from within can help people overcome lots of their natural responses. But I don't believe that it's in the kids' interest to be encouraged to "get over" their sensitivity indiscriminately. I think they'll let you know when they're really hurting because they don't know how to be a certain way that they want to be. Or that they can't get something they really want to get. For instance, my kids are very social. But it's really hard to be really social with animals and people when you're scared to have them look at you or be around you. So I try to facilitate the best I can. I don't try to get them to be "friendly" or outgoing with kids and animals my kids don't show interest in. I have limited supply of social energy myself! But I take their cues when they need help talking to someone. Or getting near someone. Most times with #2, she lets me know that she wants to look at someone, and we might follow them. But she'll never say a word or make eye contact. I won't say that it's not embarrassing. I just try to ignore that focus.
momtokay's Avatar momtokay 04:08 PM 10-19-2004
Hi all!

Anyone have any suggestions for gloves for the sensitive child? My DD attends a Waldorf preschool so they go out for a walk every school day no matter what the weather is like. It's cooling down here and she could really use some gloves but she's balking at all the ones we've tried so far.

TIA for any advice on super soft/easy yet warm gloves.
Laughingmommy's Avatar Laughingmommy 05:39 PM 10-19-2004
Originally Posted by momtokay
TIA for any advice on super soft/easy yet warm gloves.
No specific suggestions as far as brands go. Buy I would recommend either wool or silk, preferably undyed. Both these materials are great breatheable insulators. Most often, knit gloves are made from cut "fabrics" so there are many seams. If you don't mind the aesthetics of it, you could just have your dc wear them turned inside out.
karuna's Avatar karuna 09:22 PM 10-19-2004
Hi, I've been reading this thread and am wondering: Is highly sensitive the same as (or a continuation of) high needs? My 14 month old was/is a screamer from birth. She screamed-nursed-screamed-nursed-... basically all day for the first few months. She especially screamed when put in the carseat, or when I tried to put her in a sling awake. She was very sensitive to any changes (location, sounds, etc.), and had to be held all the time. But she didn't tolerate the pressure and positioning of her body in a sling or carseat, she had to be able to stretch all her limbs out when she wanted. And I say screamer, because she didn't cry like any baby I had ever heard. She screamed like I can only imagine a torture victim screaming. She woke frequently at night, and when we tried to comfort her in any way besides nursing, she screamed that torture-scream again.

Anyway, now she's very mobile and learning a lot and interested in things, so she does a lot less screaming, but I see signs of what you all are describing as high sensitivity....not with clothes so much, but with animals, in new settings-- sitting with dp and I for an hour and a half in playgroup before warming up and starting to play--, and emotionally, both to others and just herself. Is HSC behavior a natural continuation of colicky, high-needs infancy? Were your babies screamers too?
Calm's Avatar Calm 06:42 AM 10-21-2004
Ooooooooh yeah, was she ever! High needs from birth. However, she is not "needy" now (at 2 and a half), she is quite independant. But she doesn't like new situations without support. She seemed traumatized from birth for about 5 months. Screamed all night her first month sometimes. We bought colic drops, all those things. We panicked about pain, emotional trauma from the c-section, all of it. And my breasts were killing me, cos she was attached to them constantly - we fed about 14 times a day! But things still have to be "just so" with her still. She likes to be held when we walk with her knees up, in the fetal postition, while she is carried. Really hard to do, but she likes it that way (I've got some great biceps). Lots of things like that. But she has been a very happy centered person for almost two years now. But change things on her, and she puts her foot down. Likes her routine. So chances are, you have a HSC, but things get better with time (there's that phrase again!). She will relax into her being-ness, and become more calm.
Divina's Avatar Divina 12:19 AM 10-22-2004
As far as I can tell, "high needs" may or may not be "highly sensitive", and vice versa. My kids have all been pretty mellow babies (for which I am supremely grateful), and all of them have been highly sensitive (so far--too soon to tell with Mr. B). But high sensitivity could definitely be a contributing factor to high needs.

Where do I find out how to include thread location links in my posts, anyone know? Someone started a FYT thread about what sounds like an HSC and I wanted to let her know about this thread.

I think HS is at least partly inherited (genetic). My whole family is HS, my best friend is and her son is, and we think her ex is, too, but she doesn't care enough to ask.
2rubies's Avatar 2rubies 03:27 AM 10-22-2004
Hi! I wanted to thank Heddah for the link. I answered the questions about my 4yr old DS, and he is most definately HS. Of course, I knew that already. It was my pediatrician who recommended the "Spirited Child" book by Kurcinka. I guess it did start right from birth-whick was traumatic for both of us. (c-section here, too) I think what really made me think about this was one day a couple of months ago we were watching a show about baby animals, and they showed a puppy's birth. DS started sobbing uncontrollably- I thought maybe it was the blood. "What are they doing to that mommy dog?! What are they doing to that mommy dog?! They're hurting her!" The tears lasted a long time, and we talked about it for weeks. He knows exactly how anyone is feeling at any time. He said a character in his book was angry because her "eyebrows are down". Really it's amazing, isn't it? For a child to have more empathy and compassion than most adults out there? I know the shopping can be hard, and really, I can only guess it's easier shopping for a boy. But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world. I only wish everyone could appreciate his gifts like I do. I would say that I was probably borderline HS as a child, my DH is definately NOT! And my 2yr old DS doesn't seem as sensitive as big brother. Thank you for starting this thread. It's nice to know others who can understand.

Calm's Avatar Calm 04:48 AM 10-22-2004
I am part of a few interesting threads, and I am finding a link between giftedness, sensitivity, high needs and empathy. Ok, now that I write that, it seems rather obvious. Kristin, your boy sounds like my daughter. I love that part - the empathy. My father used to say (I'm quoting him a lot lately - RIP beautiful!) "Whatever you do, and whatever you lose - don't harden." I know what he felt now. I feel that for my child. I hope life doesn't beat it out of her. I know I had a few years there where i was giving the finger to the world in disgust! I felt I had had enough of being sweet and kind only to be spat upon.

In my thirties now, I see the folly of my ways. I realise kindness is something you do without expectation of return. I hope to give this gift to DD. I want her to keep this sensitivity and gentleness and not let it break her. I get the feeling you mamas would feel the same.
2rubies's Avatar 2rubies 10:52 AM 10-25-2004
I ordered the HSC book from Amazon (I have a terrible Amazon addiction ). After reading all the posts, I started to think more about me-I guess I'm more sensitive than I thought. My most vivid memories of school as a child are the smells and the lighting. Awful, huh? I must have learned something!
I'm getting anxious right now because we are about to pack up and move 1500 miles away from family and friends, and I'm not sure how DS will react. I'm not at all worried about my 2yr old, but I'm nervous that this could be too much for my oldest. He's very close to his grandparents, and even though this truly is a wonderful opportunity for us, I can't help feeling like a terrible mother for even thinking about it. He's asking everyone how sad they'll be when we move. I wish I knew how to help him prepare for this, but of course I'm feeling nervous about the whole thing too!

Calm's Avatar Calm 06:23 PM 10-25-2004
Hi Kristin, and Welcome!

I am interested in some points of view also, as we aren't moving, but we are travelling overseas and DD is very close to my mother. Anyone out there had these experiences with HS?
daileyjoy's Avatar daileyjoy 05:13 PM 10-26-2004
My dd 8 is super sensitive about clothes and always has been. At 2 it was buttons she would cry about them till she threw-up followed by overalls and turtle necks, socks that touch her ankles, wool, fleece, anything that is tight, sometimes jeans and anything that might itch her.There are more I'm just forgetting them now. It is a fight to just clothe her in anything other than simple loose cotton shorts and T shirts. She will stomp, be ugly, reason, cry and end up sometimes hysterical breaking out in a full body rash from her hysteria. I don't know what to do. She takes her thumb nail and presses it against her other nails, in a pinching motion saying that these clothes cause her nails to do it. Also chalk and powder will upset her as well. If you know anything about dealing with a child like this, what may cause her to be this way, or how to help her. Please let me know.


I posted this eariler today about my dd and think I may have found her problem is being a HS child. But there are other things she does as well that makes me wonder if this is so.
She is very attatched to my mother and because my mother and I don't get along this has coused issues with dd. She is depressed and our upcoming move is making it worse, she is resentful of anything that does not "appear normal" and struggles with making friends. She is very hyperactive and more often than not has trouble stopping when it is time too. She thinks everytime is playtime and we battle about her not being able to do anything serious without playing and being overly silly including schoolwork and even showering she will sttempt to turn it into a silly playtime. I hope someone here can offer some advice soon.

Divina's Avatar Divina 04:34 PM 10-27-2004
It sounds as if HS is at least a part of her difficulty. If you understand that she isn't just being ornery, she is truly in distress due to her high level of sensitivity, it may be less frustrating for you. High sensitivity is a physical reality, due to an individual's nervous system being unable to "ignore" different kinds of stimulus the way normally sensitive people do. We usually need more quiet, slower adjustment times between activities, softer clothing, less TV, softer lighting. As far as I can tell, HS kids are often also very sensitive to criticism, and readily believe themselves to be bad people or worthless if they are not approved. My 3rd kid will practically disintegrate if I scold him, especially if he really didn't know that he shouldn't be doing whatever it was.

I would suggest getting her clothing that she can wear without distress. Warmer clothes can still be soft and stretchy. If you live in a climate that permits it, soft cotton t-shirts and shorts are fine; if you don't, at least have soft cotton layered next to her skin, and make sure all her clothing doesn't bind. She may be more comfortable with close-fitting, rather than loose clothes that flap. This will eliminate a good deal of your conflict, and you can focus on those things that she can help. She may not understand that what she is feeling is not obvious to you (or others) and that, even if you were able to put on her clothing, it wouldn't feel as bad to you.

As for the depression, etc., if she's truly depressed and also truly hyperactive, you're probably going to need help. Be very careful about choosing a counselor. The wrong one can cause harm, but the right one can practically work miracles. If you are just using those words to describe feeling bad and being very active, you may need to get some time off on your own and try to see why normal childish behavior is so aggravating to you, and how you can accommodate it without going mad. (For me, regular time off on my own is essential).

There's really nothing wrong with playing in the shower, and most kids would rather do things in a fun way. The trick is to find a way to include the fun while still getting the work done. And, if you can do this most of the time, then it's easier (usually) to get cooperation on the rare occasions when it can't be done that way.

Addressing the problems with your mom: is there a way she and your dd can spend time together without you? Can you limit your interaction with her to brief, civil interchanges, so your dd won't get caught in the crossfire? If your mother is also attached to your dd, she may be willing to cooperate until the two of you can find a way to be around each other without damage.
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