You may have been a sensitive child yourself, or you have come across this article while searching online to learn how to better parent your own highly sensitive child, either way, people often wonder, do some children outgrow being highly sensitive?
As with any personality trait, there are aspects of one’s personality that change, or morph, from childhood to adulthood. While children gain self-control as they grow and develop, most do not have dramatic shifts in personality without psychological issues at play. Yet, sometimes children who are quite sensitive in their formative years do, with proper support from their parents or caregivers, find that their responses to stimuli lessen as they gain life experience.
In my parenting journey, I’ve found that meeting my children’s needs when they were babies, then as toddlers, helped them develop a secure attachment and this enabled each child to feel loved and supported in their sensitivity. One child couldn’t handle loud noises, and another needed constant touch from me to feel secure. As each child grew and developed while securely attached, they were able to self-regulate and develop good self-care to meet their own needs, thereby lessening the impact of their sensitivity on other family members.
Some Believe Kids Never Outgrow Their Highly Sensitive Person Trait
In her blog on her son’s sensitivity, Leila Boukarim shares her experiences:
“Some days, my husband and I wonder, is it possible he’s no longer highly sensitive? Has he grown out of it?Lelia Boukarim, http://www.sensitiveandextraordinary.com/
The obvious answer to that question is no. One does not grow out of genetic programming. But it’s easy to forget that as we grow, many aspects of our behavior, thoughts and attitude change. Our experiences mold the way we think and express ourselves in different situations.
A lot of people sincerely ask me if sensitive children “grow out of it”, and I can see where they’re coming from, especially when all they know—or think they know—about “sensitivity” is that it makes people cry and overreact. To them, sensitivity is weakness, and that’s all. They look at your sensitive child, perhaps while he/she is being difficult, and think, “Oh, well I’ve never seen adults cover their ears and cry because the music is too loud, so this must be something kids grow out of.”
What Causes a Child to be Highly Sensitive?
We don’t know what specifically causes children to be highly sensitive. We do know that according to Dr. Elaine Aron’s research, 15-20% of all people are highly sensitive. It seems to be a temperament trait that runs in families, so chances are, one of a child’s two parents is also highly sensitive.
Each Child Unique in Their High Sensitivity
While many highly sensitive children share similar traits, each person is unique in their sensitivity. Some have special relationships with animals and can perceive what they need or want. Other kids are drawn to art or music and have a depth of processing and understanding that exceeds that of many adults. There are also children who thrive in art or creative endeavors in ways that seem well beyond their years.
At the end of the day, each child is unique, and fitting into the high sensitivity trait can provide insight, not box a child in. Some sensitive kids are incredibly outgoing while others are terrified of large groups. As with a vast variety of childhood experiences, each child is unique and created by God to be a special, wonderful individual. Celebrating your child’s special gifts can be a wonderful way to empower them and gift them with a strong sense of identity and self-worth.
Remembering One’s Sensitive Childhood Struggles Can Be a Blessing
If you were a sensitive child and overcame some of the challenges that kept you from going to slumber parties, connecting with large groups, speaking in front of people, or pursuing particular careers, you may have discovered that working on your concerns with a mental health professional allowed you to overcome shyness or extreme fear of speaking in front of others.
When I was a child, I had horrible stage fright and could not perform well at my piano recitals; as an adult, I was able to conquer my fears and can perform now well in front of others, as an example.
As you traverse down the journey of high sensitivity with your children, consider yourself an enlightened guide to assist them in self-exploration, self-care, and self-esteem.
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