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Next Life, NO Kids: Raising A Highly Sensitive Child

July 31, 2017

Raising A Highly Sensitive Child

My son is a highly sensitive kid. He's almost eight, and I can already see him as I was at that age. Even on a great day, there are tears. Sometimes it's a moving song in the radio, other days it's because he made a mess and thinks we might be mad at him.

It's a struggle, but mostly because it's so ridiculously hard to identity so much with your child's pain and not be able to take it away. I remember feeling those feelings as a kid, and I remember being told I was, "too sensitive."

When I was 13 years old, I weighed 140 pounds. I remember because it was made to be shameful.

I grew tired of hearing, "too sensitive," and I turned to food for comfort. I was a "latch-key" kid, and after school meant an empty house. I would overeat in front of the tv, and hide the evidence (wrappers), so no one would know what a pig I had been.

My mother and her husband called me "Chubs" whenever I would go for that second snack, so I learned to hide both my overeating and my sensitivity. I would sneak into the kitchen sometimes after everyone was asleep, and binge in my bed.

The purging started a year later; after a girl at summer camp showed me how, and I quickly lost forty pounds.

The next year I discovered alcohol, and found the less I ate, the faster I got drunk. Anorexia became my new BFF.

I entered rehab for the first time for the eating when I was 20. It took years, and A LOT of work, but thankfully, I have found recovery from both eating disorders and alcoholism (not necessarily in that order). It was a painful process to go back to those early years and see how much they shaped my personal narrative. Feelings are bad. Stuff it or purge, but whatever you do, never be "too sensitive."



So, when my little boy came home today and hid in the kitchen, I knew something was up. When I heard the cookie cabinet open and some rustling of a wrapper, I asked him what he was doing. 

He told me right away, and I asked him immediately if he was having feelings he wanted to talk about. He broke into tears and told me there were kids at camp who had said some really unkind things. One child even pushed him.

What I didn't do is suggest he was being too sensitive or ask him to understand that kids are just kids.

What I did do is let him cry and tell me how it all made him feel. When I felt he was ready, I told him that firstly no one ever has the right to put their hands on him. I told him I didn't expect he ever would want to, but that he had every right to defend himself if someone hurt him intentionally. 


Then I told my son the truth -- that kids pick on other kids when they're not comfortable with themselves. When we feel bad, sometimes we treat other people poorly, because we want them to hurt like we do.

I told him that people who are happy with themselves don't often have the time or desire to say or do mean things to other people. 

Tweet: Raising A Highly Sensitive Child  https://ctt.ec/R1948+ Via @nextlifenokids #hsp Tweet This 

I asked him if he ever thought it was fun to be mean to other kids, and he said he didn't. He told me he doesn't like to hurt people, and I suggested that might be because he's truly happy in his heart and comfortable with who he is.

I told him how much I identify with his feelings and how intense they can feel all the time. I told him he was somehow gifted with a heart just like his mama's. He has my hair, my eyes, my button nose, and my smile. From where I was standing, there seemed only one thing he has that I never did -- a mama like me.
The words we choose to use when children are upset may not seem very important...but they are. Next Life, NO Kids - Raising A Highly Sensitive Child #highlysensitivekids #parenting #inspiration
I may not always say, do, or be the right thing for my kids; that's for sure. But today, I was EXACTLY what that little man needed. I was the strong voice that assured him it's okay to feel his feelings, even when they're hard. That he can be okay, even if he feels like he's not, because there's nothing he can't tell me; that we can't work out together.

I was support, and love, and acceptance. I was a pair of ears to listen, and two arms to hold him tight.

I was his mama.

And that was enough.


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