Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.

Wednesday Words of Wisdom – The Highly Sensitive Child


Well, it has been almost four months since I started the blog.  Funny thing about doing a daily blog.  Ideas seem to come out of nowhere.  I have come up with a new idea for a weekly blog.

The weekly blog will be called, Wednesday words of wisdom.  This weekly blog is going to feature a book, particularly a book relating to motherhood, couplehood or transitions back into the work world.  My blog focuses on those topics and  I would share some books that I have found useful or interesting.  Each week I will select a book and talk about why I enjoyed it.  My hope is you enjoy the book or maybe know someone who would.

Recently, at a social gathering, a dear friend and I were discussing  difficulties she was having with her child.  As we talked, it became obvious to me she was struggling with an issue I once struggled with my children.  Rather than sit and give her all sorts of suggestions, I recommended a book.  The book is called, The Highly Sensitive Child, by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.

My friend’s child struggles with issues of sensitivity.  Dr. Aron explains well what a child with sensitivity issues behaves like.

“But highly sensitive infants seem to notice every slightly new taste, every change in temperature;  they startle at loud noises and cry when bright light is in their eyes.  When they are older, they are often emotionally sensitive, too. They cry easily when their feelings are hurt, they worry more, and can be so  happy they ‘can’t bear it’.  They also reflect before they act, so that they often come across as shy or afraid when they are merely observing.  When they grow older still, they are often remarkable for their kindness and conscientiousness; they are upset by injustice, cruelty, or irresponsibility.”

I came across this book many years ago, when my oldest son was in kindergarten.  He was having trouble adjusting to all the new  experiences at school and was emotional because of it.  I felt unskilled to handle his emotions.  When he was at home full-time with me, I was able to support him.  But once he was at school all day, my protective measures were not longer there.

A therapist friend of mine recommended the book for me.  Reading the book was a great experience.  It was the first time someone described by child, not in negative terms, but in positive, praising ways.  Having a child who is sensitive does not fit the societal norm for children.  Parents and educators seem to favor a child who is flexible, positive, adaptable and predictable.  My oldest son was none of those things.  He seemed cautious, shy, emotional and reactive.  I was at a lost how to support him and yet not become negative towards his temperament traits, that I did not understand.

The book, Highly Sensitive Child, is actually the second book written by the author.  Her first book, The Highly Sensitive Person, was written to assist adults who were considered to be “sensitive’.  Ms. Aron is a research psychologist, as well as a licensed clinical psychologist.  She has conducted years of research about the highly sensitivity trait.

The book begins with an overview of what a sensitive child is and a questionnaire.  It provides knowledge about a child’s inherited temperament traits.  The goal of reading the book is to free the parent of misconceptions they may have heard about sensitive children and find ways to best support them.

“Temperament is what your are born with…Personality is temperament plus experience” – Peter Mangione

The most important lessons learned I learned reading this book was the concept of temperament.  In this case, I learned about the temperament of my son.  My husband and I have different temperaments than our two older boys.  Temperament is a behavioral style.  Temperamental differences are present at birth: they influence how children behave toward individuals and objects in their environment.  The book also discusses how parents of similar or different temperaments can support their highly sensitve child.

The second part of the book focuses on understanding the development of the sensitive child:  from infancy to young adulthood.  It is sort of the ‘how to’ section to care and support a sensitive child.  There is a wonderful section called, Twenty Tips for Teachers in the back and a great resource list of materials about temperament and parenting.

This book proved very helpful.  After reading it, I developed different expectations for my boys and realized, that their sensitive traits were really remarkable.  It is estimated up to 20% of the population is considered to be highly sensitive.  This means it is likely you know several people who have this trait.  Understanding leads to acceptance.  Acceptance, in my opinion, is the greatest gift we can give our children.

“Children with difficult temperaments can turn out to be highly creative, unusual, even exceptional people.”  Stanley Turecki

So there you go.  My first blog for Wednesday Words of Widsom.  I hope you found it helpful.  Talk with you again soon my friends.

Author: insanityofmotherhood

Mom of three boys, wife, educator, and all around nice gal in the middle of a midlife something. It's not a crisis, but it's something…

2 thoughts on “Wednesday Words of Wisdom – The Highly Sensitive Child

  1. Thanks again! I think I have a sensitive child, “emotionally” child that I’ve had a difficult time understanding he can be a bit “reactive” to certain situations. I just might take the time and check out this book.

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