Do you have a super sensitive child?
There is nothing wrong with a super sensitive child. There is no diagnosis or syndrome or spectrum of diagnoses with a super-sensitive person. It is simply an inborn trait, and one that describes my child.
My son John, in fact, is a delightfully-funny, highly-inquisitive, terrifically-imaginative, freakishly wise, outside-of-the-box thinking, active and bright, genuinely-intuitive, super-sensitive kid. He will cry if some one in the house yells. He will get upset with the slightest raise of volume in my voice. He will remove himself from any situation where he thinks one person is trying to dominate another person in any way in a movie. He will experience some distress if he has to make too many decisions. He will sit nearer to me if he thinks I am upset. He will run from the room if the background music on your movie or TV show sounds too sad. He will not watch a TV show or film where one person is unkind to another person. He will keep a sharp eye on anyone who is angry, hurt, lonely, or anything else but "fine". He reads subtle changes in moods from meters away and can tell who is upset in 3.6 seconds. He reads distress in any living thing.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, this super-sensitivity trait does not suggest that a person is shy or timid. In fact, John is quite social and friendly. Mostly comfortable in most social situations. An absolute delight.
While reading around cyberspace for this blog post, I ran across a website called The Highly Sensitive Person Book, by a woman, Dr. Elaine Aron, wanting to sell her book. Well, I'm not buying the book, but I am copying/pasting this quote from her website:
Unfortunately, the trait has been somewhat misunderstood in our culture, so that most psychologists and parents tend to see only one aspect of some sensitive children and call this trait shyness, inhibitedness, fearfulness, fussiness, or "hyper" sensitivity. If one could see inside the mind of a sensitive child, however, one would learn the whole story of what is going on--creativity, intuition, surprising wisdom, empathy for others...
John and I often discuss the difficulties of being hyper-empathic: feeling overwhelmed with the knowledge and sense of the feelings of others, the propensity to think of the needs of others first, being swamped with awareness of the needs of others, having your own feelings not given what feels like enough attention, the tendency to not ask for ways to get his own needs met, the fact that few others are as empathic and may miss your own need, the risk of some people who prey on the emotions of others, larger-than-necessary behaviors when feeling sad or disappointed or angry, feeling stressed out with "timed" activities or when under-the-gun, the possibility of struggling with depression or anxiety as an adult, or feeling self-conscious and labeled "sensitive".
But even better, John John has learned to feel proud of his highly-empathic side, to trust that side of him.
As a parent, my job is to help him figure out how to get through the struggles, but even more, to have pride in his unique abilities. It is my honor to be his parent. I find that, as always, he and I are walking our way through this together.
P.S. I wouldn't change a thing...except to hope the world doesn't gobble him up.
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