I am an emotional person. And I have an emotional child. Actually, make that two. And on top of this, I lean toward being what’s called a “highly sensitive person.” So, I shouldn't be surprised that I bred two more of these.
Turns out, my firstborn is a lot like me, I’m realizing more and more. Not surprisingly, there are books and loads of online resources about having a highly sensitive child... And as I sat down to reflect on this recently (let's be honest I was in the bathroom), about ten seconds later she bursts in the door with tears pouring down like double flowing waterfalls... for the sixth time that morning. And it was barely 9am.
It's hard to feel it all. And to feel it so deeply.
Now, I realize that many kids will cry at the slightest hurt, physical or emotional. Or when they’re not getting their way. Normal. This is commonplace in my house of course - the not sharing, the constant power struggle, the fighting, the mean looks, words, and interactions my kids exchange. But consider this: what about a child who may be an empath, like me? What if she already (at nearly 5 years old) has the paranormal ability to pick up on others’ emotional states… while also trying to make sense of her own emotions, which she can barely regulate?
Back to the bathroom scene. She bursts in, crying/basically screaming about something outside that involved a ladybug flying away to the neighbor's house (trust me it wasn't an emergency), and I can barely hold myself back from shrieking at her, "PLEASE STOP CRYING!" because I just don't want to deal with this. Again.
And yet, I get it.
I'm sensitive too.
Lightbulb on. Note to self: Be compassionate. Be aware. I am literally the only calm in her chaos. Be mindful of what I say and how I say it, whether it’s directed toward her, toward my husband, or if I’m on the phone with a friend. Not only does she hear it, she also feels it.
And give her lots of hugs. More intentional hugs. Put my phone down, literally, put it down. Hold her. Give her eye contact. Make her feel loved more than I think I already do. But also, give her space when she needs it. She’s processing life, and her emotions. And that’s okay. I know what that’s like.
Check this out for some simple but practical tips on loving your highly sensitive child.
"Children do not experience our intentions, no matter how heartfelt. They experience what we manifest in our tone and our behavior." - Gordon Neufeld
PS. My husband told me he's not a fan of my high-waisted bellbottoms. I may be a highly sensitive person, but my feelings weren't hurt. Maybe because I love 70's fashion too much. There, I said it.