1. I'm a HSP.
|I can take or leave busy, crowded places|
Photo Credit: Michal Zacharzewski
2. It's ok to be me
My vision board and goal setting for years had involved things like "be more extrovert" "go to networking events" "go out more regularly with friends" "meet new people". Whilst I will always strive to be a better me, I have recently learnt to accept myself and my limitations. I will never be more extrovert. I will never be comfortable being centre of attention in a large group. And that's okay.
3. The importance of me timeHighly sensitive people (including children) need down time, and lots of it. Peace, calm, silence, relaxation: these are not luxuries for sensitive souls. These are essentials. When my first son was born and I was alone at home with him I became agitated if he wouldn't sleep at nap time, if he cried incessantly during the day and I couldn't get a minute to myself I was a big ball of knotted stress by the time my husband came home. I thought I was a terrible mother. By the time my second son was born I realised that I needed a recharge moment in the day in order to cope with the noise and chaos that can ensue with a house filled with very small people. When my children slept I made sure I used those precious minutes to create quiet to clear my head, to reset myself to zero. Sometimes I read, sometimes I wrote. Sometimes I just sat and closed my eyes. No music, no TV, no vacuum cleaners or clattering of pans or dishes. More than three years on, with three little boys in the house, I still insist on quiet time in the middle of the day. My youngest sleeps but the eldest two play in their rooms, or together, and do something quiet like drawing, or puzzles or they create masterpieces with Lego. It does us all good. Without it our afternoons and evenings can be tense!
4. I'm a sponge
|Photo Credit: Keith Syvinski|
5. I'm a lie detector
My son picks up pretty quickly on people saying one thing but actually meaning something else. He knows when he hears half truths, an incomplete story or just plain old nonsense. He watches faces, he reads eyes. When the sentiment there doesn't match the words he hears he knows it in a flash. It's related to number 4 in a big way and it's hard to fob highly sensitive people off with "I'm fine" whilst there are signs in their eyes that tell a different story. And when I saw how tuned in my son is to the unspoken truth the penny dropped about myself. Some people make me feel very uncomfortable and I am very quick to cast judgement on whether I trust someone or not. My son helped me realise why that is.
6. I'm creative
|Creative outlets are essential in our house|
Photo credit: Amanda van Mulligen (c)
7. Be true to ourselvesMy eldest has a particular affinity to nature and things that are growing. One day he came home from school very upset because his friends were trying to kill a worm they had found. He thought it was horrible that they could act in such a way.
As he's got older he has struggled with the behaviour of his peers, trying to be the same as them whilst holding on to how he feels when he sees living things being killed. I see him start to bend to fit in, even though it doesn't feel right to him. Later, when he is lying in bed talking about his day he is able to be open and honest about how something made him feel. He's able to admit that something he or a friend did upset him. I hear him more and more talk about how good he was because he didn't cry, even though he felt like he might. He's already being conditioned to fit in better in a world not designed for highly sensitive people.
This is just one example of how HS boys don't live up to society's expectation of how males should behave. Many boys therefore suppress their natural instinct and feelings. Ted Zeff's book "The Strong, Sensitive Boy" is a great resource to delve further into this topic.
I've learnt how important it is to help my son be true to himself and in turn be true to myself. Sometimes it is much harder to follow your own heart and be true to your feelings than to go with the crowd. It's a hard lesson for a child, particularly one that is so sensitive. It's so important to find the balance between honouring how we feel but not constantly sticking our neck on the line. My son doesn't want to stand out from all of his friends, he doesn't want to be different, and I understand that so it's all about finding the right balance.
8. Embrace nature
|Nature blows away the cobwebs, refreshes and revitalises|
Photo Credit: Amanda van Mulligen (c)
What have I missed out? If you are parenting a HSC what important lessons are you learning along the way?
*I have created a Facebook group called "Happy Sensitive Kids" for anyone who is involved in raising HSCs. My goal is to create a supportive, safe place to share tips, experiences, challenges and the joys of bringing up HSCs. It's a closed group so you need to request membership but it also means that the posts can only be seen my members.*