Raising the new generation of Highly Sensitive Children, and how to deal with authoritative dinosaurs.

This first blog post is a long one but it’s worth the read, it’s short story to be honest, so bear with me! Grab some popcorn or whatever healthy alternative you might prefer, and get comfortable..

Highly sensitive children, crystal children, indigo children, rainbow children, lightworker children, new age children.. They’ve been called all kinds of names over the years. There are theories about them in the spiritual community, and theories about them in the psychological community. One thing that everyone agrees on, whether you buy into the spiritual woowoo or not, is that there are noticeable differences that distinguish these children from other kids. Parents are seeing it, more and more teachers are seeing it, psychologists are seeing it. More and more we are seeing therapists pop up that specify in “HSP coaching” which is very encouraging, and long overdue.

PicsArt_06-17-03.11.24 Parents of highly sensitive children, are ironically often highly sensitive to criticism on their children, because often they too are highly sensitive! It is after all hereditary. We are especially sensitive, as parents in general really, this isn’t limited to HSP, when it comes from people close to us. We don’t want to be judged or looked at as that parent that lets their kid “walk over them”. That parent that gives their kids other food when they freak out because they didn’t want to eat the food that was being served. We don’t want to be the parents of the kid that is screaming for no apparent reason. We don’t want to be the parent that is being judged because their three year old still has a pacifier. We don’t want to be that parent whose kid refuses to hug a relative goodbye. But the thing is none of that matters and none of that should matter. Parents shouldn’t have to worry about what other parents think. We shouldn’t have to worry about how high we score on the “good parent” scale that other parents have, our only worry should be, are we scoring high on our kid’s scale, are they seeing us and thinking “you are meeting my needs, you are really hearing me and seeing me”.

Parents should stop judging other parents because you don’t know what’s going on with someone else’s child. Maybe the reason that child won’t eat the food is because of sensory reasons. It just cannot handle the texture of the food. Maybe the child is screaming because it’s overstimulated by noise and overwhelmed. Maybe the child is extremely uncomfortable about hugging people, even people he or she is close to because it is simply too much to take in at the time. They are simply processing too much too quickly. They can not do it without overloading. Maybe the child still has a pacifier at age 3 or 4 because if he or she wouldn’t have a pacifier in public places the child would just scream so it might not be the perfect solution, but for a mom who is all frazzled and trying to cope with managing her highly sensitive child this might just be the one thing that gives her a little bit of relief.

I am writing this because I have two choices, for those who know me, you know that I am a fan of angels. I believe in them, I believe we can talk to them, I also believe they talk back if you learn to listen. I have two choices, either I can write all this down right now or I can go cry in a corner. The angels promptly came in and said “Nope! This is your chance, we’ve been sending you sign after sign telling you to start writing, this is your purpose, to talk about high sensitivity. You were gifted this beautiful extraordinary highly sensitive child for a reason! Use your experience, the good AND the bad ones to educate, to talk and to inform others!” So here I am, writing it all down!

I refuse to let older generations tell me how I should be parenting my highly sensitive child just because they have more self proclaimed knowledge purely because they have lived on this earth longer (this time around, but I digress, reincarnation is something for another article). They tend to think that all children do only one thing, that is manipulating. That their life purpose is to manipulate you as a parent and see how much they can get away with. I used to have many incidents with my mother in law, one time, a few months ago during one of the numerous incidents with my almost 70 year old mother-in-law who is such a self-proclaimed child development expert, I had to listen to her go on for 15 minutes straight, could not get a word in edgewise. She literally said that the words “child development” 10 times in the 15 minutes that she was ranting. And in reality she is quite the contrary. She has two adult children in their 30’s with emotional disorders who have been abused emotionally and physically by her ex-husband, their dad. While she stood by and watched and did not leave the toxic situation. I realize that I myself now am judging her as a mom. But I am aware of it. This whole 5D ascension over 3D living is a work in progress! We try our best. I do realize that from her perspective she did what at the time she thought was right. Just like all moms do. So I don’t want to judge her for the choices she made but it is wrong for her to judge me for the choices I am making based on research and experience with my own unique highly sensitive child. The funny thing is that I actually am a child Development expert. I have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and have worked with children in different countries and in different settings. One-on-one as a nanny. In special needs education with blind and autistic children. As a music and dance educator in a British school in the Middle East. In Montessori education and in regular public schools. But somehow people, as they get older tend to think that they have more authority on any given subject than younger people, even though there is scientific evidence claiming the opposite of what they are saying to be true.

I feel like I have to speak up for highly sensitive people and highly sensitive children more specifically. I grew up as a highly sensitive child and somehow miraculously I managed to become a somewhat well-balanced adult. Although I am sure many would disagree and call me crazy because I talk about astral traveling and talking to unicorns and angels and fairies and extraterrestrials. But we’ll leave that for another article. Today I want to talk to you about high sensitivity also known by its scientific name sensory processing sensitivity. You can look this up online. You will find several studies talking about this. People with high sensitivity or sensory processing sensitivity have different brains. Their brains don’t work the same way. They are the children that will freak out in the store because it is too loud for them when nobody else seems to be bothered. They are the children that will freak out when their food looks too messy and they will refuse to eat it even though they are starving, simply because their brains cannot deal with the texture. These are the children that might behave in school all day long because they don’t want to upset anyone, because sensitive as they are, they wouldn’t want to inconvenience people when they can avoid it, and because they just want to fit in. And they will come home and take it all out on their family. They will scream and roll on the ground and let it all out because that is the one place where they feel safe and accepted. I was that kid. I graduated as a teacher in 2008, and not one professor or teacher uttered the words high sensitivity or highly sensitive people or sensory processing sensitivity during the 3 year course of the education. We learned all about autism, we learned all about ADHD, we learned all about most common behavioral disorders or developmental disorders that occur in early childhood. We learned or read or heard nothing about high sensitivity. Right now 10 to 15% of all people are born with sensory processing sensitivity. That is a high percentage. Too high to be ignored. it is not being taken seriously enough.

The incident with my mother in law several months ago is a perfect example of that. In the past we have sent article after article to my child’s grandma and she completely ignored every single item we have sent her and instead decided to lecture me after months and months of her “biting her tongue” around me, she finally decided to tell me that she felt like “she couldn’t be a real grandma to my child” she literally told her to her face “I’m going to adopt a little baby girl who I can be a real grandma to”. Because she got triggered in her own insecurities. My 3 year old wouldn’t hug her goodnight after a long exhausting day. What sane person says that to a three year old, let alone a highly sensitive three year-old! I could have handled this two ways. I could have exploded and ran out of there and made a whole big scene. Instead I decided to stay extremely calm and I heard her out. And it was 15 minutes of old paradigms, outdated and debunked, even psychologically damaging self-proclaimed childhood development stuff that she out of all her years of experience in her own life had gathered and felt I needed to hear because she just could not bear to watch my daughter “manipulate and walk all over me” anymore. Basically it was 15 minutes long about how I am letting my daughter walk all over me. 15 Minutes of “there is no need for her to be whining all day long and she shouldn’t have that pacifier anymore, she’s 3 years old”. I know the pacifier is a touchy subject that moms like to judge other moms on. But most people also don’t stop to think about the fact that in tribal societies most children nurse from their mom’s breasts until they are between 4 and 6 years old! and what is the pacifier but fake breasts basically! Back when this incident happened, we used to go over to her house every night because we lived right next door (our living situation has, thank God(dess) changed since then)

I could see that the not wanting to hug her was what triggered this whole 15 minute rant. “Am I not good enough.. am I not a good grandma.. She won’t hug me because I am not deserving.” So she turned it all on a 3 year old. It was basically her being a brat and me “letting her get away with bad behavior” while in reality it has nothing to do with that. But everything to do with her boundaries that are determined by her brain simply being wired differently. So I send her love. My higher “peace and love” self sends her love and healing, truly, I mean that. But then there is the 3D ego earth version of me that will not stand for this crap, and her projecting her shit onto my highly sensitive overstimulated-at-6PM-one-hour-away-from-bedtime 3 year old. All because she did not want to give her a hug. To me “forced affection” in children in the name of good manners is bullshit and only enforcing wrong patterns. That they aren’t the boss of their own body, that what other people desire from them is more important than what they feel and need. Plenty of material for an entire article in itself so let’s keep that for another day.

It is time to speak up for highly sensitive children because clearly they still need to be defended and spoken up for. Because if they’re not even emotionally safe from their own grandparents, then who are they safe from? I am not saying let’s shelter all the highly sensitives, that is not the way to go either. But saying “I am going to adopt a little girl who I can be a real grandma to because I can’t be a real grandma to you”..I am sure that everyone reading this agrees that that is crossing a major line. This applies to all children really. This isn’t only about highly sensitive children this is about child development theories, modern child development, updated child development, a real child development theory! Not outdated, authoritative “whatever is most convenient for the adult” child development theories. Putting a child in time-out is way easier and convenient for the adult. Time-ins, actually trying to communicate with a three year old and trying to get to the bottom of their feelings, trying to understand what is really going on. Trying to engage in a conversation that goes both ways, that is real parenting. That is engagement and that is understanding! That is what children need. That is when a child will feel heard. That is when a child will feel respected. That is when a child will put their trust in you. I’m not saying I am the perfect parent. I have work to do still, this is a learning process for me, and my child is my teacher. But I am aware of what needs work still, what needs to be done, and as I parent her, I am catching myself when I fall back into old patterns, and I correct myself. When you put them in a corner they are going to feel rejected, they are not going to feel heard, they are not going to feel respected, and they are not going to feel trusted. These things have been proven. It’s about time that we learn to communicate at their level instead of expecting them to be at our level, and when they cognitively aren’t there yet and fail to do so, putting them in a corner or timeout. So this is not just about highly sensitive children, this is about moms who are trying to raise their children in a respectful and sensitive way, and dads too! This is about the parents who choose to build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect and mutual understanding and true listening. True listening means getting on their level and really listening, really hearing them and even holding space for them, not just when it’s convenient for you, not just when they aren’t whining. When they’re whining you listen to them to try to figure out with them how you can help them, how you can solve the problem with them.

What happens when you have a bad day? What happens when you cry? Is your friend/girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse going to put you in the corner or in a timeout? No they’re going to talk to you, they’re going to listen to you, they’re going to hear you and respect you and validate your emotions. We are teaching our children that it is okay to be angry, sad, happy, scared, but then when they actually show us these feelings we’re going to put them in a corner? We’re not going to hear them? We’re not going to actually engage about those feelings and listen? They are not going to feel respected, they are going to feel like you are just trying to shush them. If you teach your child that it is okay to have all these feelings then you should also teach yourself that it is okay for you to deal with these feelings when they arise.

In the past I would have been completely upset and overwhelmed by the comments that I had to listen to for 15 minutes straight back when this incident occurred. But I have become so empowered and confident in my ability as a mom that I am now thanking my mother-in-law for giving me the fuel to write this entire article. Because all of these things that she said woke up a lot of feelings inside me that I have been keeping inside of myself for the last almost 4 years, actually make that almost 32 years because I went through this as a child. I am now a highly sensitive adult and yes I also sometimes don’t like certain foods people serve me either. And yes I don’t like crowded areas either I will freak out too. But am I going to throw myself on the ground and scream? No because I am an adult and I have learned to manage my emotions, I’m not a three-year-old who is still learning. But I still remember very vividly what it was like growing up being highly sensitive, as a child, having no idea. Because back then nothing was known about high sensitivity. I was already a teenager when I first heard about the term high sensitivity or HSP or sensory processing sensitivity and of course it all made sense then, suddenly the pieces of the puzzle fell together and it all made perfect sense. To me and to my mother.

So it’s for children like myself, children like my own daughter, children who other people often labeled as bratty, shy, antisocial, whiny, scared, picky eaters, and so on. It’s for those children that I am writing. Instead of quickly labeling them and putting them in time out so you don’t have to deal with their emotions because it’s more convenient for you, the adult. Try going about it the hard way. Try really seeing them, try really hearing them and then you will see the beautiful aspects of high sensitivity. Because there are so many of them. These children are highly empathic and are highly attuned to body language and facial expressions and subtle things that most children and adults don’t even pick up on. They are highly advanced emotionally and compassionate for their age and will often have conversations with you that you don’t expect them to have at their young age. They are highly intuitive and highly creative and artistic. A lot of your favorite music, a lot of your favorite movies, a lot of your favorite authors and books are created by highly sensitive people! A lot of nurses, doctors people that deal with people, that extremely compassionate teacher that you had in elementary school that you still remember to this day.. Is most likely a highly sensitive person! So before you try lumping all children together in one big group, try really encouraging and accepting them for who they are. Don’t try to change your highly sensitive child. Don’t judge them for being different and not being like the majority of the kids in their class. They are the 10 to 15%  whose brains are literally wired differently. If you do some Googling and Google Dr. Elaine Aron and the term sensory processing sensitivity and fMRI scans you will find sufficient results supporting what I have just told you.

It is a miracle that I stayed as calm as I did. But at the same time, even though I was absolutely furious on the inside, I was able to look at it from a higher perspective. I was able to detach somehow and see that she is speaking from her point of view, and her fear of rejection and her limited view of what love means and how she feels my child should be behaving so she can love her the way she knows how to love. I am okay with grandparents opening dialogue with parents about their grandchildren. But it has to be mutual. They have to be willing to listen as well as talk. It cannot be a one way street. But it very much was in my case, just like the communication with her granddaughter was that same one way street.

So for all you moms and dads out there who are wanting to hear your child, wanting to really listen and have a dialogue that goes both ways that doesn’t include time out but that includes time ins, communication, listening, talking about feelings, really talking about feelings and actually listening to their feelings, listening to the crying and not just putting them in a room somewhere to cry. To those moms and dads, you are the ones that are raising the next generation.

I warned you guys that this was going to be long but there really wasn’t anything I could leave out to make it shorter! For those still reading you’re awesome, haha!