It’s been a pretty crazy week. With more and more people learning about high sensitivity for the first time through George – either as a term or, indeed, discovering that they are a Highly Sensitive Person or parent to a Highly Sensitive Child – I’ve been fielding an increasing number of questions.
One question that has cropped up several times now (in relation to my recent remarks about awareness of high sensitivity making it easier for parents of HSCs) is about coping mechanisms. While being a parent of a highly sensitive child is incredibly rewarding, it’s undeniably challenging as you help them wrestle with their often overwhelming emotions. It’s in these instances that awareness plays such a pivotal role.
The example that so clearly alerted me to my daughter’s high sensitivity, which is almost a direct excerpt from Elaine Aron’s book, is the sock incident. Clearly a common issue with HSCs, my daughter would regularly go through half a dozen pairs of socks or more before she’d find a pair that she was willing to wear. Prior to knowing about high sensitivity, I was just under the impression that she was being awkward and especially when she was too young to vocalise her discontent, thought it was because of the colour or pattern. For a parent rushing to leave the house or to get them ready for pre-school, this was incredibly frustrating and I’d often be at the end of my tether, desperately trying to understand why sock after sock after sock caused her to cry.
However, now I know about high sensitivity, it’s not even an issue and this is where the key parental coping mechanism (that helps in so many instances) comes into play: be prepared! With the socks, the answer was ridiculously simple, but without being aware that Seraphina was a HSC, I might never have considered it. We simply took the time to go through every single pair of her socks, and I let her choose which ones to discard (those that made her feel uncomfortable) and which ones to keep. Now, we never have any problems when choosing socks in the morning. No stress, no fuss, no tears! It’s embarrassingly simple!
The same can be said for numerous other instances that previously caused great concern and inevitably resulted in sobs. Birthday parties – to which my daughter always looked forward – would often be traumatic affairs as she would walk through the doors to find a room of loud, noisy and excited children and immediately want to turn around and go home. Now, we just make sure we’re one of the first there so that the noise has built up around her over time and she’s not bombarded as she enters.
Similarly, fireworks displays used to cause a near hysteria of conflict as my daughter was adamant that she wanted to go (as an HSC she’s never had a problem with lights) but the moment the fireworks began, tears would soon follow. Now, we simply carry a pair of ear protectors with us and the problem is solved! Similarly, I recently took her to a Halloween party at a chocolatier and was aware that it would be a noisy affair (including several “loudest scream contests”!) Before we arrived, I had a long talk with her to prepare her for what to expect and when it came to the loudest scream competition, I told her to cover her ears and to scream as loudly as she could, all to ensure she couldn’t hear the other people screaming.
It might all sound so incredibly simplistic, but without being aware of Seraphina’s high sensitivity, I’d probably still be struggling each morning with those socks, with me just as likely to break down into a puddle of tears as her!