I raise highly sensitive kids, most of my clients and students are highly sensitive.
It is really important that we help our kids and teens learn their “talents” that come along with being a sensitive person.
Highly sensitive children and teens are often misunderstood…is why I am passionate about sharing with you a better understanding who they are, their talents, and how to make sense of it.
I share the four key aspects of Highly Sensitive People from the research of Dr. Elaine Aron.
If you find you are highly sensitive, or your child is, I’d like you to know the following: Quoted below (from Dr. Elaine Aron’s website hsperson.com):
👉Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population–too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
👉It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it in over 100 species (and probably there are many more) from fruit flies, birds, and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’. To learn more about this, see Research.
👉You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
👉You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
👉This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extroverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.
👉Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don’t be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.
The Acronym D.O.E.S. for Understanding Highly Sensitive People
Dr. Elaine Aron has created the acronym D.O.E.S. to explain the four main aspects of being highly sensitive.
D = Depth of Processing or Deep Thinker
Highly sensitive kids and adults process everything more. They are constantly relating and comparing what they notice to their past experience with similar things. They may not even realize they’re doing it, but this is what often makes them slower to answer or make a decision.
This is a talent because it is helpful to think and reflect, before reacting.
O = Overstimulating
For those of us who have are highly sensitive or who have a highly sensitive child, we know how much the five senses can be heightened and cause an over-arousal in our system. (Dr. Aron explains that this is different to Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder where the five senses also easily trigger over-arousal.).
Too much noise, too much clutter, too strong smell, too hot, too crowded, uncomfortable textures etc. these are all situations which can be an over-load for the highly sensitive child.
This is a talent because we can count on highly sensitive people to be on alert in danger situations and take action for safety
E = Empathy and Emotional Reactivity
In a study, by Bianca Acevedo, sensitive and non-sensitive people looked at photos of both strangers and loved ones expressing happiness, sadness, or a neutral feeling.
In all situations, when there was emotion in the photo, sensitive people showed increased activation in the insula, but also more activity in their mirror neuron system, especially when looking at the happy faces of loved ones.
This is a talent of Empathy is a skill that is needed to maintain and have strong relationships.
There is a common misunderstanding that we should keep emotions out when thinking logically, thats impossible as everything we do is based on a emotion. Emotions drive people and people drive performance.
Highly Sensitive People also tend to care about animals and the planet a lot too
S = Sensing the Subtle
A highly sensitive person often picks up on the subtle things that get missed by other people. This connects to highly sensitive people being able to read a room or read a person well. This aspect can be a disadvantage and draining when there is too much negative information or negative cues to process.
Talent is their ability to be very observant and notice things in detail that is important.
Take the questionnaire below to find out if you or your child is Highly Sensitive:
You can answer this questionnaire to find out more about your child and their sensitivity.
You can answer this questionnaire for adults to found out more about their sensitivity.
I hope this article has given you more insight into the world of Highly Sensitive Children, Teens and Adults. I encourage you to learn more about being a Highly Sensitive Person or a Highly Sensitive Child by reading Dr. Elaine Aron’s books below:
I would love for you to share your experience and the talents you recognize in raising a sensitive child.