#sowesay 5 tips to help yourself while helping your highly sensitive child through a difficult time
„hyper“ sensitivity concerns the whole family not only the person who feels & reacts extremely sensitive to sensual and emotional influences. it takes several shapes, so while not every highly sensitive child (hsc) or adult will have a tough time dealing with loud noises, they might have severe difficulties adjusting to changes or dealing with the idea of wearing mittens/ gloves.
highly sensitive children or adults may sometimes come across as cowardly, hysteric, too caught up in emotions or overly dramatic. and yes, they are too caught up in emotions, since emotions
are can become their cryptonite. their senses are on overload. constantly. every single information and bit is entering their sensitive minds. those ‚bits‘ are not standing in line waiting to be processed or get filtered at the entrance. they just enter with every breath, wink, or move. YET, hs persons are no cowards or drama queens. tell me, HOW are you supposed to react calm and keep it together at all times, when the carousel never stops turning & you can’t get off (sorry for the grey’s anatomy quote), when you are trying to walk through a storm, every single day. having said that, „hyper“ sensitivity in children or adults is a strength rather than a burden! hs persons are more aware of other people’s feelings and recognise things, most people would not. sounds a bit like a superpower, doesn’t it!? but as it is with every superpower, it can only work & turn into a true blessing if there are people seeing & acknowledging it. superpowers are a tough gift. while it is amazing to see hs kids and adults work their empathy or sense the mood in a room before others would, it is pretty hard for all to deal with unexpected emotional reactions, sensual and emotional overload, shutdowns, or even acute physical reactions due to an imbalanced emotional household (breath holding spells or pain etc.).
now, speaking as a parent, you learn to deal with it on an everyday basis. some meltdowns can be prevented, some not, sometimes you find a way to help your kid, sometimes the only help is to sit & wait with it until the storm has calmed down. there are days or weeks, however, where the sensory overload seems to culminate. there is no room to breathe anymore, everything feels too tight and overwhelming. it’s like a volcano that is emitting smoke, and you just know, it’ll erupt. but the eventual eruption, metaphorically speaking, is not the feared end, but the anticipated release. the explosion creates room to breathe again. breathe and cope.
yet, how do you (on the outside) cope on volcano days (and weeks)? sometimes you just manage and stand strong. sometimes it gets so overwhelming that you, too, might not know how to navigate through this and need to catch a breath. here are 5 tips that might help. just know this before you read on, you are not alone in feeling exhausted and sad because nothing you try or do seems to help your kid. everything helps. we try, we fail, we hug. we support, we protect, we love. so anything you do shows your kid you care and are there for it. i know, in the midst of explosions, all the drama, sadness & desperation can cloud our vision. but there will be a last explosion that clears the sky again and the carousel stops turning for a little while, so you can all find your balance again. oh, and be sure, we are trying hard, too, to keep those tips in mind…
1) be there for your kid, BUT do not forget to make time for yourself to regroup. take a bath, go get ice cream, take a walk, just do it, and then go back to your kid.
2) tackle one problem at a time. what is the worst fear your kid has, what is the most challenging thought it faces currently. what do i mean? during our last volcano days, we faced 4 weeks of several sudden & severe anxieties, insecurities, constant sadness, and on top of that the flu, tummy bugs and what (at that time) looked like an allergy. in retrospective, all the physical symptoms were manifestations of what was going on inside him. his worst fear was to lose us or be seperated from us. he has neither ever been in a situation where he was left alone nor did we use the cry it out method (urgh…). we knew that it isn’t uncommon that children around the age of 3 develop separation anxieties again, yet, it was beyond managable. i couldn’t even leave the room (doors open) anymore. telling him (over and over again) we would never leave him did not work, so we showed him. we sticked together. we didn’t leave. i was ‚lucky‘ enough to catch the flu, too, & be put on sick leave, so I didn’t/ couldn’t go to work. we stayed home until we were able to step off the carousel. it was a long & painful ride but we made it through, one turn at a time.
3) get out & in touch with other hsc parents. there is a really lovely & very helpful (closed) facebook group with experienced parents, pediatricians, teachers etc.
4) speak about your feelings. talk to your family, friends, colleagues, to people who understand. this is not about getting advise. this leads us directly to tip number 5:
5) trust yourselves. our gut feeling usually tells us exactly what to do or how to evaluate a situation. so, when you get to the point where everything you do or try seems pointless and you don’t know whether you can still trust your gut: you can!
just remember, ”we try, we fail, we hug.” [tweet this].