How do you know when your child is highly sensitive and when he is being God’s little spy and marking your character flaws with peanut butter and jelly? You may not be able to tell right away, but as you study your children, the Lord makes it clear. In the meantime you can modify your parenting to avoid many of the hurtful behaviors outlined in chapter 3 of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity. If you treat a not-so-sensitive child as if he is sensitive, it will not hurt him. However, treating a sensitive child as if he is not sensitive will hurt him!
Recognizing a child as highly sensitive and potenitally a burden bearer can be one of the greatest gift you give him or her. Recognition is the first step on the path to raising a spiritually and emotionally healthy child. Below are some of our non-scientific observations, however they are similar to Dr. Elaine Aron’s scientific observations!
- Cries, or tries to intervene or comfort when another child is hurt or tormented
- Needs “alone” time away from stimulation, noise, activity
- Sometimes asks pointed questions about things that make adults nervous
- Has a vivid imagination. Sometimes needs help sorting physical reality from spiritual reality.
- Has visions, sees angels
- Attuned to family needs and moves to help by doing chores or passively by not expressing needs
- Attuned to and affected by others’ moods
- Overwhelmed by too many people, lights, noise, etc.
- Has times of excessive emotion–responses seem extreme whether it be grief, anger, sadness or tears over physical hurts
- Has times of uncharacteristic behavior, when he/she does not act like him/herself
- Tender feeings, easily hurt
- Appears shy and quiet
- Vulnerable to sadness or depression
- Drawn to strong personalities or weak personalities
- Drawn to help in situations where there is intense inner turmoil or trouble
- Is a chamelieon. The child comes home acting like the last child he/she played with. She is belligerent or whiney, swears, kicks or hits, acting out behaviors characteristic of the playmate, but not characteristic of herself on a daily basis.
- Is spacey–doesn’t hear when spoken to, forgets, may walk around oblivious to the rest of the world, seems absorbed in own thoughts–off in another world.
- Is often used as a scapegoat.
- Sees things adults may not see, such as the inner state of another.
- Knows or senses things ahead of time, such as when Grandma is coming, or that the neighbor child is going to fall out of a tree.
This is not a definitive list, but if you ticked off a goodly number of items, it may help you look at your child with different eyes. Being highly sensitive simply means that the central nervous system is highly tuned and takes in more sensory data than most people do. Sensitivity is on a spectrum from highly sensitive to those on the other end of the spectrum with the empathy of a stump! Those who are highly sensitive spiritually tend to be highly sensitive in other areas as well. Excerpted from The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity. To be continued . . .