Is my child highly sensitive?

Highly sensitive children

A lot of parents come to me regarding children that are hard to handle. They don’t listen, they isolate themselves, and sometimes they react really strange. Could it be that my child is highly sensitive (HSP), or has Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS)?

The book “The Highly Sensitive Child” by Elaine Aron has a great questionnaire for that. You answer yes if the statement applies to your child at this moment, or applied frequently in the past. If it doesn’t apply to your child, you reply no.

Highly sensitive children

My child…

  • scares easily
  • is bothered by clothes that are itchy, the seams in socks, or the brand tags in t-shirts that touch the skin
  • in general doesn’t like surprises
  • learns more from a small friendly correction than from a severe punishment
  • seems to be reading my mind
  • uses difficult words for his/her age
  • smells even the slightest weird smelling odor
  • has a sharp sense of humor
  • seems to be very intuitive
  • has difficulties fallen asleep after an exciting day
  • has problems coping with changes
  • wants to change when their clothes are wet or sandy
  • asks alot of questions
  • is perfectionistic
  • sees the sorrows and sadness of other people
  • prefers quiet games
  • asks deep, philosophical questions
  • is very sensitive to pain
  • has trouble dealing with a noisy environment
  • has a good eye for detail (something that isn’t in its usual place, or someone changed their hairdo…)
  • first checks if it is save to climb something
  • performs best when there are no strangers around
  • experiences feelings very intensely (sadness/fear/joy)

If you answered 13 or more question with YES, it is very likely that your child is highly sensitive. Being the parent, you of course know your own child best, and if your child scores extremely high on for instance 2 points, but doesn’t reach 13 in total, it is stil possible that your child is highly sensitive.

But what exactly does it mean, highly sensitive children?

High Sensitivity or HSP, actually means that the senses of a person are more sensitive than those of an average person. The information and external stimuli are processed much more intense compared to other people. A highly sensitive person (HSP) smells different, hears different, sees more detail, has a greater depth of cognitive processing and higher emotional reactivity, and, most of the time is very intuitive.

Highly sensitive people have developed a very good way to deal with these talents, but sometimes, all these sensory activity does get in overdrive. When this happens, these stimuli can be overwhelming in both number and nature, which causes the highly sensitive person to go into seclusion, or live in extreme peaks and lows.

Highly sensitivity doesn’t necessarily causes problems in children. Most of the time the problems start occurring when the child feels misunderstood. The surrounding doesn’t always respond in the most understanding ways, causing the child to feel this way. Or it gets a sense of guilt due to the negative responses of other people (I bet you recognize the phrase: “If that were my child…” or “If he stayed in my house for a week, that stupid behavior would soon pass!!!”).

Overstimulation can manifest in different ways in children. They can start getting physical complaints, such as headache or abdominal pains.

They can become furious at times, or just seclude themselves totally.

Quite often these children create their own little world, over which they do have total control, and which gives them a feeling of stability.
A lot of parents don’t know that their child is highly sensitive, and worry all the time about what they are doing wrong in their parenting. I can help you and your family in this.

I hope this helps in getting a clearer picture of what it means to have a child with highly sensitivity. Starting september, I will give workshops for both parents and highly sensitive children. See you than!

Warm regards


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