As you may have already learned about me, I am a proud HSParent. That means I am a highly sensitive person who is also a parent. My child is exposed to my neurotic behavior day in and day out. The way I contain my fear about raising a child who sees his mom as neurotic and overly sensitive is that I concentrate on raising a son who understands me.
So from my own experience, here a second idea (find the first one here, more to come) about how to raise children who understand us-
Name your sensitivities in the moment they arise so your children learn that your particular sensitive finger print is nothing to be afraid of.
By sensitive finger print I mean that each of us has a different way we express the four qualities of being an HSP. The four qualities are Depth of processing, Overstimulation, Emotionally reactive, and Sensitive to subtle stimuli. Learn more here.
When my sensitivities are triggered, and when my child is involved (meaning he’s a source of one of the triggers), I tell him about it. It takes practice for me to realize when its happening but I’ve learned that when I find myself over-reacting to him (either positively or negatively), I’m being triggered.
Here is one example,
For me, physical touch is very important. But, I am also very sensitive to it, so when I am overstimulated, its one of the things I look to avoid.
One morning, I was having a hard time staying on our morning schedule. I was dealing with a lot of anxiety internally. Son came into the kitchen and lovingly wrapped his arms around my waist and squeezed tight.
Now, who wouldn’t just melt into that, right? Me. that’s who. I reacted by cringing and trying to crawl out of his grip. It surprised me as much as it surprised him.
Overwhelm sometimes sneaks up on me.
So we both stood there shocked for a moment, while I gathered my thoughts. How could i explain this to him?
“Thank you for that hug, but right now, touch feels heavy on my skin. I think my body needs a little bit of space right now. Can you help me with that?”
He said, “Sure mom.” and sat down for breakfast. He’s awesome like that.
Then as I cooked breakfast for him, he listened while I explained that I was feeling overwhelmed by some things that were going on (I was worried about our schedule, thinking about work and about what I wanted and needed to do that day, and also trying to make sure I was listening to my needs).
“And in Mommy’s body, when I get this way, for some reason, people touching me is kind of a big deal. I react really jumpy like I did just now.”
“Can I show you what I mean?” and then, as I brought over his breakfast plate, we did a role play where I hugged him gently and lovingly and then showed him how a sweet loving hug could actually feel heavy to my body- and I hugged him again but this time I did like a dead-weight kind of hug. We laughed and laughed about it cause he almost fell out of his chair from my weight. I said, “Kind of crazy isn’t it?” He agreed.
“But,” I continued,”when I am feeling that way, it’s crazy, but its also very real to me. So if you hug me and I react like that again you can know that it’s not about how you’re giving hugs, it’s how my body is receiving them at that moment.”
He just shrugged his shoulders, said, “Ok.” and took in a fork full of eggs.
He didn’t need my empathy about his hug or about how my reaction may have made him feel. We didn’t need to dig any deeper. He just took my explanation at face value. I wasn’t an emotional wreck to him, I wasn’t an oversensitive weirdo. I was just Mom.
What I learned is this:
- When I am not scared of my reaction, when I explain my sensitivity as a matter of fact, he accepts it as a matter of fact and he doesn’t take it personally. It becomes no big deal.
Y’all this idea, to share what’s happening inside my body as it’s happening when it involves my child, has nearly Changed My Life! I am a more comfortable person because I’ve practiced owning my sensitivities with the person I love and care about the most.
He gets me, and that’s almost all that matters.
Now it’s your turn.
What have you done as an HSParent to help your child understand you better? Share your story with us in the comments below;