Looking back at your childhood without knowing you were a Highly Sensitive Child (HSC), you probably didn’t get exactly what you needed from your parents, your teachers, or your friends. Dr. Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Child, was released in 2002 and is the defacto manual for better understanding this segment of kids. Chances are, your parents had no clue how to parent to meet your needs as a Highly Sensitive Child.
The good news is, as an adult, you have the ability to heal from childhood wounds, recover from the unkind phrases such as, “you’re too sensitive” or “toughen up.” With therapy and a good self-care regimen, you can recover from your childhood trauma connected to your traits as a Highly Sensitive Child.
Below are five things you probably didn’t get as a Highly Sensitive Child (HSC):
- #1 – Not Enough Time Alone as a Highly Sensitive Child
- #2 – Not Enough Positive Attention During Your Highly Sensitive Childhood
- #3 – Not Enough Resources to Understand Yourself as a Highly Sensitive Child
- #4 – Not Enough Encouragement to Pursue Creativity as a Profession
- #5 – Not Enough Sensitivity to Your General Personality and Need for Pacing
#1 – Not Enough Time Alone as a Highly Sensitive Child
You might have grown up in a large family, or a large loud family (even worse), and had very little time or space to yourself. Perhaps you shared a room with one or more siblings. Maybe your loud Italian Grandma lived with you. If there’s one thing most Highly Sensitive People agree on, it’s that we like quiet. LOTS of quiet. For a child who has to go to loud raucous summer camps or daycare before or after school, it’s possible you were overstimulated most of your childhood.
POSITIVE TAKEAWAY: Now, you can give yourself permission to carve out large chunks of quiet time in your life.
#2 – Not Enough Positive Attention During Your Highly Sensitive Childhood
Many, but not all, Highly Sensitive Children are naturally introverted and quiet. You might have been a silent observer through much of your childhood. You might have been happy to watch from the sidelines, avoid team sports, and listen in class instead of raising your hand. HSCs often need to feel supported, secure, and loved to open up, whether to a trusted parent, teacher, or friend. It’s possible you were ignored during significant sections of your childhood.
It’s possible you were pushed to perform or participate in sports when it was the last thing you wanted to do. You may have endured criticism by a parent who expected you to behave like an outgoing, sporty child when you were bookish, reserved, and artistic. Overall, society’s norms for kids are often in opposition to what you needed during your childhood.
POSITIVE TAKEAWAY: Now, you can give yourself the positive attention you need. You are strong enough, bright enough, outgoing enough, creative enough, and loved enough.
#3 – Not Enough Resources to Understand Yourself as a Highly Sensitive Child
You may not have had a single person in your life who championed your sensitive spirit. That must have been so hard for you. HSCs might have had few resources available to cope during childhood, which can lead to self-hatred. You may not have been able to articulate what it is you wanted or needed, because no one explained the joys and benefits of being a Highly Sensitive Child to you. As you look back, try and find one or two people in your childhood who did value your contribution as a sensitive child. Recall how this provided hope.
POSITIVE TAKEAWAY: Now, you can find a therapist who understands the Highly Sensitive Person trait and go back through your childhood to validate yourself and heal your inner child.
#4 – Not Enough Encouragement to Pursue Creativity as a Profession
Many Highly Sensitive Children are naturally creative and appreciate art, music, and literature more deeply. It’s possible that you felt these things as a child but had no one to encourage you to pursue them as careers as you got older. The story is an old one: the parents steer their kids into the family business, or toward the goal of becoming a highly paid banker, or doctor, or lawyer. The child pursue said career, at the cost of their mental wellbeing, until they realize they were only pursuing the career to please their parents. When they “come to” and realize they’ve always wanted to be a counselor, writer, artist, or teacher, they have a huge life transition before them. They must go through the process of realizing that no one saw who they really were as a child.
Positive Takeaway: Now, you can identify and name your positive sensitive traits and natural proclivity to do exactly what you want to do.
#5 – Not Enough Sensitivity to Your General Personality and Need for Pacing
As a Highly Sensitive Child, it’s common to feel that you were over-pushed, over-coached, and over-demanded by your parents as a child. Some HSCs may have thrived despite initially not wanting to be pushed. Others overlooked their own boundaries and psychological needs in order to do what was required of them by their parents. Either way, chances are you have some resentment inside toward anyone who forced you to do something you didn’t want to do.
POSITIVE TAKEAWAY: Now, you can quit anything you don’t want or like to do. You can choose to push yourself where you desire to grow and excel.
Writing this article about Highly Sensitive Children and the five things you probably didn’t get as a child was emotional for me. I love my parents despite the fact that I was a quiet, Highly Sensitive Child who needed less pushing and more TLC. I have personal experience with each of these five points and I’m sure we could compare notes and have a good cry. I’m grateful that now, as an adult with children who are HSCs, I can recognize my needs, their needs, and continue to learn and heal. I wish the same for you. If you have Highly Sensitive Children, I welcome you to evaluate your parenting strategies to better meet your sensitive kids’ needs.
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