Thursday, 26 June 2014

Raising Happy Sensitive Kids

*My Happy Sensitive Kids blog is the place to find all new highly sensitive related posts* 
Regular visitors this this blog will know there are three main themes running through my posts: all things Dutch, all things British and the amazing topic of Highly Sensitive Children.

A year ago my family was wading through some dark, dark days trying to deal with a school that failed to acknowledge that some children are highly sensitive and that the constant noise and busyness around them in a classroom have real implications for how they feel - and once they are in the comfort of their own home - how they behave. Life was a daily battle. And one we were losing.

We had amazing support from various Dutch youth services (a blog post for another day now I think about it) and we found our way through in the end but it was hard. It was incredibly stressful and it put a lot of strain on my family and particularly my children.

My husband and I felt alone because it is often hard for friends and family to understand what being a highly sensitive child means for a child and their parents in day to day life. Some days we really felt like we were making it all up. I questioned whether highly sensitive really existed - that is how our son's former school made us feel. They made us feel, some days, like complete nut jobs - saying one thing to us, but acting another way entirely as soon as my son was in the classroom with them. They humoured us but never helped. We went through just about every emotion you could name. Until enough was enough and we switched schools. If only we had done it sooner. The Dutch have a saying "zit lekker in je vel" - to literally be comfortable in your own skin. And that is what we saw happen when our son started at a new school. He was suddenly comfortable in his own skin.

But, as with everything there is always a positive angle - every cloud has a silver lining and all that. Through our experience, I learned a lot. I will never go down the same road again.

How we felt a year ago is the reason why I set up a Facebook group for parents of highly sensitive children. It's the reason I started writing about the topic here on this blog. So that no other parent of a HSC feels alone when they face problems at school, or feels unsure when their child refuses to go to a friend's birthday party, or cries every morning at nursery drop off, or is pulling their hair out when their daughter refuses to wear new clothes that she says are scratchy, or refuses to eat anything but peanut butter and cheese. Because they all may seem like little things to the outside world, but day in day out, dealing with the sensitivities of a confused, overwhelmed child puts even the most patient of parents to the test. And when the world around you shows a complete lack of understanding for your child's needs parenting feels lonely.

The truth is, if you are parenting a HSC you are absolutely not the only one. You are not alone. And it is a topic that is gaining more and more ground (read this if you don't believe me: Why Some People are Genetically More Sensitive or Empathetic Than Others) and more and more parents are getting more of an understanding of their HSC. The latest generation of highly sensitive children have more chance of having parents that really get them, that understand them and what they need to grow into beautiful adults who not afraid of their sensitivity. That's the good news. And as parents the world wide web gives us the tools to support each other so that we can raise Happy Sensitive Kids.

I am thrilled to have been approached by two wonderful bloggers in the past few weeks to write a post on the very topic of highly sensitive children. It's a wonderful acknowledgement of what I have been trying to do over what turns out to be almost exactly a year.

Firstly, I wrote a post for Leila for her wonderful Sensitive and Extraordinary Kids blog on the topic of being a HS mother and how I struggled entering motherhood. I thought I wasn't cut out to be a mother. Turns out I just needed to empty my bucket every now and then.

And then I wrote a guest post for Annabelle for The Piri Piri Lexicon blog distinguishing between introverts and HSC. It's a fine line, and often a child is both.

If you are raising a highly sensitive child join our Facebook Group, leave a comment here or just check back once in a while - just know you're not alone.


  1. Hi! My daughter is also highly sensitive and she has two very insensitive teachers who are making her life hard. In fact, we are seriously considering homeschooling after the summer holiday! It's a difficult and really big decision and she is strongly resisting the idea right now because she's afraid to "miss out". I clicked on your Facebook link, but it wasn't working. Great blog, thank you!

  2. Oh! Try the link again - I have changed the settings.....

    Schooling decisions are tough even when a child is not HS - hope to see you over in the FB group!!