I don't pretend to be an expert in HSP family relationships, but I will share with you what I know and refer you to those who know more. For this reason, this blog is a little longer than most.
Highly Sensitive Children
Highly Sensitive Children are usually very willing to obey, are loving, and affectionate. When they are little they are often referred to as having wonderful little personalities, regardless of their quirks. These quirks may include having colic as an infant, being more dependent on the close proximity of a parent, and asking "Why?" about everything as they grow up. All the little darlings are empathic to some degree, which means they will 'feel' what you really mean before they 'hear' what you mean.
Sensitive children are creative. They draw, paint, sing, and write stories, dance, and even have make believe friends. These traits are a valuable and necessary part of society. If I were to offer a tip to HSP parents it would be to start your child out with toys that encourage creativity and learning without causing stress and overload to the family's nervous system (like drums and trucks with screaming sirens). Choose toys and projects, such as rattles, stuffed animals, balls, dolls, tea sets, color books, blocks, action figures, books, tinker-toys and legos, trikes, hula-hoops, skates, and bikes, which are all 'old school' toys and donate the mechanical, pulsating, siren-screaming toys to other people's kids. Allow TV only for an hour or two out of your child's day. Day care may have their own set of rules, but you should always question the types of toys and entertainment that are provided when your sensitive child is in the care of someone else.
Highly Sensitive People, in general, cannot NOT create. That would be like telling God himself to take a day off. In fact, sensitive children who find themselves unable to create can become quite bored, which can cause negative emotions, apathy, and even depression. Although some sensitive children grow up to quietly manifest their creative streak in the quiet world of world of art, photography, crafts, or writing, others may actually crave more thrill and seek creative adventures. Some children decide to hide themselves in drama class where they are able to be thrilling and adventurous while hiding their true nature.
The Highly Sensitive Teenager often develops the knack of knowing just what needs to be said or done at the right moment. They have an endearing way of can making you feel as though you were just rescued by your prince or princess charming. However, these same sweet, sensitive souls can end knowing exactly what spiteful thing to say to hurt you the most and may end up self-medicating with drugs, food, sex, gambling, or alcohol just to get away from their own senses. It is not easy to feel, know, or question so deeply.
And, since there since there is not one type of HSP there can be many differences between Highly Sensitive Children as well. Some HSP traits are more difficult than others to live with, such as when a sensitive child refuses to be in a crowd (which could be anything from a family get together to a football stadium) and throws a tantrum. Or, you can't get your child to keep his clothes on, sleep alone, or become active in sports.
The Deeper Relationship Complexities HSP Families Face
Whether you are a Highly Sensitive Person or are in a relationship with, living with, married to, or are raising someone highly sensitive, you will find your relationship comes with deeper complexities. One of the best examples of this is how difficult it can be to 'put one over' on the Highly Sensitive Person who is extremely empathic. No matter what you say or do to or for a HSP they will always, instantly, feel or see the real truth of a matter. If what you are saying doesn't jive with your actions or the feelings they are picking up from you they will automatically know they have received a mixed message. Mixed messages are untrustworthy and hard for anyone to deal with. HSPs naturally need more time to process their emotions in order to make sense of them. If what you are telling them doesn't make sense it causes the HSP pain. This is difficult for the HSP. It is also difficult for the non-sensitive person to feel so very transparent much of the time. In adult relationships this can cause break-ups. In families, it is often at the root of hurt feelings.
Decoding can be quite an emotional chore. Decoding mixed messages on a regular basis causes overwhelm. Imagine someone telling you they love you, but saying it meanly or not acting as if they do. Obviously, it doesn't take a Highly Sensitive Person to figure out this is a mixed message and love is absent. However, HSPs can feel love is absent even when the other party is not aware of it themselves. This is what it truly means to be empathic. The HSP senses not just truth, but hidden truths. Imagine living life never having the luxury to just believe someone at word value.
When relating to a Highly Sensitive Person, whether child or adult, mean what you say and say what you mean. It will save them and you much grief.
When you are a parent that is highly sensitive your energy reserves can become thoroughly exhausted in the raising of children. Having your senses assaulted on a daily basis by all that goes into parenting (and if you are a HSP parent you know what I mean) can be exceptionally draining. And yet, your energy reserves can be filled by your ability to see the larger picture, to understand your children on an intuitive level, to find joy in who they are becoming and in their potentials.
My best advice for HSP parent is to creatively find ways to organize parenting into schedules you can handle and to find at least 10 minutes out of your day, every day, to relax your mind and body.
Spend at least one day or evening every week away from the family involved in something independently meaningful, such as taking a class, working, volunteering, or just meeting with friends for some fun or pleasantries.
Sense-based activities can help to reduce and prevent overwhelm. The children can get involved in these activities as well.
A Word About HSPs & Abuse
HSPs need positive environments and loving relationships to thrive. That's not to say all sensitive people are meek and mild people who need quite and calm like I do. Quite the contrary. Some are stimulation junkies and thrill seekers who love combative sports, loud music and fast cars. However, abuse of any form, whether it's emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual can affect the HSP traumatically. A hurtful word can do as much damage as a physical slap to the face. HSPs often become physically ill when confronted with abuse. Abuse is never OK, whether you are Highly Sensitive or not.
Positive Support for Families of Highly Sensitive People
It's important for Highly Sensitive Children and HSP families to be around like-minded people. There's nothing more positive and that makes you feel better than to know you can turn to others like yourself for understanding. If you think you or your child can handle being different alone, you are wrong. Well, maybe you can handle it, but the path will be very hard and lonely, and why should that happen? Use your search bar and look up HSP Groups online. Get involved, even if it's only peeking in on a forum or messaging on Facebook. Share your thoughts, feelings and ideas with other like-minded individuals who will welcome you into their worlds and hearts and, perhaps open doors of friendship in the physical world.
Autism, Asperger's Syndrome & The Highly Sensitive Person
While many members of my own family share the trait of sensitivity and some of us are Autistic I have to tell you that being a HSP and having Autism or Asperger's Syndrome are different things, although they can certainly overlap.
What I do know is that Highly Sensitive People and those with Autism are both sensitive to their five basic senses, as well as the sixth sense of Spirit, much like those with Asperger's Syndrome.
The books, The Strong, Sensitive Boy, by Dr. Ted Zeff or The Highly Sensitive Child, by Elaine Aron may be of further help to you in raising your Highly Sensitive Child.
Also see HSPs.
About the Author
Mari Joanne' Dionne is an AADP Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner of Natural Healing, NLP Certified Life Coach, and Highly Sensitive Person. Read more...
Forgotten Health Terms
Fish-Whole ~ as sound as a fish or healthy
Accoucheur ~ a male mid-wife
Kingsevil ~ a disease or swelling of the cervical lymph nodes
Valitudinary ~ subject to sickness; crazy
Chime-Child ~ a child born on Sunday who was immune to witchcraft, could see ghosts, and was a natural healer
Periblepsis ~ a delirious stare of the eyes
Wormland ~ a churchyard
Green-Sickness ~ a disease incident to virgins; sickly paleness, with green tint of complexion
Tissek or Tissicky Cough ~ a tickling faint cough
Multiplying Medicine ~ an elixer of the alchemists, used in making and multiplying gold
Peat-Reek-Whisky ~ highland whiskey, distilled over peat fires
Belly-Brussen ~ a distended stomach or having a protuberant stomach
Oint ~ to smear with an unctuous substance (usually having to do with painting or disguising something)
Farbed-Up ~ confused
Nyctobasis ~ Somnambulism; to walk in one's sleep
Roozles ~ wretchedness of mind and body
Coolth ~ coolness (opposite of warmth)
Pharmacopolist ~ an apothecary
Laver ~ to wash (before dinner)
Gothicism ~ to be rude or rudeness
Desuetude ~ lack of use
Splay the Bream ~ to cut up that fish
Doctor of Skill ~ a physician
Pimpish ~ dainty in the matter of food (taking in small quantities)
Dendranthoplology ~ the theory that man sprang from trees
Fash ~ care, trouble, anxiety, as in "do not fash yerself."
Satisfy Colon ~ to satisfy one's hunger
Neurasthenia ~ debility or impairment of the nerves
Trollibags ~ the intestines
Cothish ~ faint, sickly, ailing
Fogo ~ a disagreeable stink or smell
With Squirrel ~ pregnant
Pottinger ~ a cook, apothecary, druggist (Scotland)
Pomster ~ a quack doctor; to treat illness without knowledge or skill
Bleflummery ~ vain imaginings
Venefice ~ a practice of poisoning
Weaponsalve ~ a salve that was supposed to cure the wound by applying it to the weapon that caused it
Overset ~ to recover from mental shock
Fordolked ~ wounded
Witchify ~ to bewitch
Wamblecropped ~ humiliated
Naufrage ~ shipwreck
Peffle ~ in a nervous state
Measondue ~ a hospital or poor house
Dead-Nip ~ a blue mark on the body not caused by an injury or any known cause...sometimes called a witch's nip
Sadly On ~ expressing that a person is ill or in a bad way
Whirligigs or Tallywags ~ testicles
Betwattled ~ to be surprised, confounded, out of one’s senses
Blind Cupid ~ the backside
Bone Box ~ the mouth
Dicked in the Nob ~ silly, crazed
Head Rails ~ teeth
Hickey ~ tipsy, hiccupping
Knowledge box ~ a term for the head