This is part 4 in my series on Raising a Highly Sensitive Child. To read the previous posts click below.
Part 1 – Raising a Highly Sensitive Child
Don’t give up hope
What a difference a year can make! “A” is in first grade, and I no longer recognize that shy anxious child. She LOVES school, loves learning and impresses me every single day. Looking back, I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life helping “A” through these difficult transitions and I will, but I cannot believe the progress she has made. Last summer she went to two summer camps. She was nervous and shed tears on the first day of both camps, but she did it! She faced her fears, she did something she’d never done before, and she loved it!
Thanks to one of her teachers at the YMCA (who we will forever be grateful for) we found that “A” had a passion for theater. After trying ballet, swim, and gymnastics it was such a great feeling to finally see her do something that she got excited about and wanted to do. She took a two-week theater camp which included performing in The Little Mermaid at the end of the two weeks. I would never have expected her to get up on that stage, but she did it, and she was AMAZING! Once again, lots of emotions and tears from me that day! Now she is preparing to be in her first real theater production. I still can’t believe it!
When “A” went to first grade, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she transitioned relatively smoothly. We are really lucky to have an extremely nurturing, caring teacher who she connected with instantly and that has made a huge difference.
While “A” has become more comfortable at school, in groups, around loud noises, and at birthday parties, she continues to be and will always be highly sensitive. I’ve become more aware of how challenging that will be as she continues to get older, but every child has their challenges and understanding her sensitivities allows me to be better prepared to support her.
“A’s” sensitivities are becoming less about loud noises, uncomfortable clothing or temperatures. As she has more interaction with her peers, is beginning to form friendships, and becomes more involved in activities she is struggling more with her emotions and understanding them. “A” cries easily and sometimes seemingly for no reason at all. At times she can’t explain or understand her feelings, and it’s challenging for both of us. This happens almost daily, and it’s emotionally exhausting, however as she’s working on improving her coping skills she seems to be recovering quickly.
“A” continues to be extremely sensitive to pain and will scream and cry at the smallest injury or pull of her hair. She is very hard on herself and often gets nervous about not knowing how to do something at school. She has trouble standing up for herself and worries about getting someone in trouble if she talks to a teacher about it or me.
“A” is extremely jealous of her sister who also has her own set of complicated needs. Her sister is the complete opposite personality. She is extremely expressive and strong-willed therefore her emotions come out as strong fits of excitement or anger which is very overwhelming for “A.”
“A’s” sister also seems to have more than her fair share of illness while “A” has always been very healthy. We recently went through several weeks of illness with “L” which caused “A’s” sensitivities and anxiety to heighten. I still never seem to be prepared for it when it happens but looking back I can often figure out what has triggered her to be extra emotional and anxious. “A” became jealous of the extra attention “L” was receiving and therefore sought attention through her emotions of being scared.
Parenting any child is exhausting, but an HSC is emotionally draining as I struggle to understand and support her. There are times when I lose my patience over her emotions and when I struggle to know if her feelings are real or if she’s trying to get attention. When you’re trying to cook dinner and you need to stop to console a child who is randomly crying it can become frustrating, but I continue to work on skills within myself to be more patient and supportive. As I’ve done this, I have been able to help her work through those feelings and articulate them.
I still get a lump in my throat every day as I watch “A” get on the bus. My heart continues to beam with pride as I think back to everything we have been through. I have always struggled with my confidence, and have feared that my lack of confidence will project onto her, but she has forced me to look inward and work on myself so I can be the best role model possible. She is my Why and the reason I work so hard to be the best version of myself.
“A” is my biggest accomplishment in life. I finally have something I am proud of, and that’s my beautiful, strong and brave child. She knows that she is strong, that she is capable, and that she is so loved. I can’t wait to see what amazing things she does and I will be here to support her and encourage her every step of the way.
Do you have a highly sensitive child? Comment below. I would love to hear from you!
Here are some resources to help you:
Thankful Thoughts Gratitude Journal for Kids – I’m proud to share my children’s journals. These journals have helped my HSC acknowledge and express her feelings through writing and reflection.
Raising a Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron – This book is what helped me better understand the trait and how to support my HSC. I recommend it to anyone raising a HSC.
Parents of Highly Sensitive Children Facebook Group – This is a private Facebook group run by Maureen Gaspari of thehighlysensitivechild.com. This is a great space to ask questions and share your concerns with other parents who can relate to the same struggles.
The Superkids Activity Guide by Dayna Abraham – This book is not written specifically for HSC, however, it has some amazing activities related to sensory to stay calm, be happy and make every day amazing! Abraham lays this book out beautifully!
What to do when You Worry too Much by Dawn Huebner – If your child also struggles with anxiety this is a wonderful workbook to help work through worries.