Five Strengths of Sensitive Kids
Sunday, February 12, 2017
David Jones is credited for saying, “It is both a blessing and a curse to everything so very deeply.” My son has the highly sensitive trait (find out here if yours does, too), and while it has not been without challenges, I have noticed that high sensitivity also comes with these special strengths.
Sensitive children often have vivid, wonderful imaginations which enable them to be very creative and artistic. My son won the “best artist” award in Kindergarten and more recently received an award for best animation in an arts class he took. He is always drawing and creating new characters and stories. He and his brother even have an entire movie series made up in their heads. Do you notice that your HSC (highly sensitive child) is artistic and creative, too?
Nurture this strength by allowing time and space to be creative. HSCs need a lot of down time, and being over-scheduled or constantly busy leads to higher stress levels. Give them the tools they need to create, such as an artist’s set, paint and a canvas, or an animation studio – whatever your child is into. Avoid making too many judgments of their creations, and be particularly careful of criticism which might squash their creativity. HSCs want to please, and if they think they’re not, they get discouraged easily and may give up. For example, rather than “that is your best drawing yet!” or “you used blue for the sun?!” simply remark about the time they spent working on it or something specific that you enjoy about it, then ask what they think. “I think the colors you used are lovely. What is your favorite thing about it?”
HSCs are very emotional people, and they are also in tune with the emotions of others. This makes them highly conscientious. They usually have better-than-average manners and try to never hurt anyone’s feelings. They are considerate toward others and people are likely to remark on their good manners.
Nurture this strength by verbalizing your appreciation when they hold the door open for others, say please and thank you, allow another child to go down the slide first, etc. Verbal affirmations mean a lot to all children but are especially nourishing to the soul of an HSC.
Compassion and empathy is a wonderful strength of highly sensitive kids. They are able to put themselves in another’s shoes and read emotional cues with ease. Their tender hearts are a light in our world and must be guarded with the utmost care.
Nurture this strength by teaching your sensitive one emotional intelligence and the skills they need to surf the waves of their high emotions. Give them space to feel their feelings and understand that they feel very deeply. Allow them to cry. Never poke fun at their sensitivity but see it as a gift and aim to keep their hearts tender by accepting and acknowledging all of their emotions. Give them ways to exercise their compassion, such as volunteering at an animal shelter or sponsoring a needy child.
The highly sensitive child’s attention to detail combined with their active imaginations and creativity make them great storytellers.
Nurture this strength by asking them to tell you stories. Just before bed when the world has quieted is a good time to listen to their stories as creativity will often spring up during this time. Give them ample opportunities to write. You might use story starters or print blank comic book pages to inspire them.
Because of all of the above strengths, highly sensitive kids make great friends and caring siblings. They naturally want to meet other’s needs, and because they are so intuitive, they often know how the other is feeling just by their nonverbal cues.
Nurture this strength by helping your child maintain close friendships if there is a move or change in schools. Work with the other child’s parent to get together for playdates or Skype call. Michele Borba, author and parent educator, advises to notice one friendship skill that your child needs to work on, such as resolving conflicts, eye contact, or starting a conversation, and then practice that skill with your child. It’s also important to let your child see that skill in action. “Seeing a skill in action helps your child copy it, so she can try it on her own,” Borba says. While HSCs do make great friends, they may sometimes be shy or need help making connections so others will notice and benefit from their strength.
*This article was originally published at Creative Child Magazine.