What Are We Doing To Our Sensitive Kids?


Being sensitive is not just being emotionally more vulnerable. Being sensitive is a specific way of perceiving and interpreting the world through both the heart and the mind. It’s an overwhelming experience in this post-modern society as we have spent centuries in our mind and pretty much disconnected from our body. The result is an overgeneralised mind-body split and an incredible amount of human suffering. We don’t know anything about feelings and we spend most of our time terrified about them.

We have been capable of measuring how cognitively intelligent we are, but we haven’t done much to understand how feelings and emotions can dictate the difference between a prisoner who learns his/her lesson and a prisoner who returns to the streets of crime. We have built and developed wonderful pieces of technology, but we are still not able to understand how we can change our own hearts, because we have been disconnected from our human essence.

And that essence, I would say, is based on sensitivity. In order to be a fully functional human being you need to be aware of your own feelings, attitudes, and behaviours, and you also need to interplay those with other people’s. That requires sensitivity, a pre-disposition to be able to sense yourself and others. Some of us have been, however, reprogrammed by our family and country’s trauma to the extent that instead of a smooth human skin we developed a hard shell. That shell is great to protect us against feelings but it also makes us humanproof. It prevents us from understanding ourselves and others.

My much younger sister, who recently discovered my unknown talent for hair-dos.

What can we do about it? Can we fix it? First of all we need to pay more attention to our children. I was a sensitive child but my parents didn’t know how to deal with me. They don’t know how to deal with my much younger sister either, who despite being extroverted is also sensitive. Instead of embracing our sensitivity, my parents unconsciously try to suppress it. When I was a kid, I would cry easily if my dad spoke more aggressively and that was welcomed with impatience, threats, or mockery. I learned that I had to be ‘tuff’ on the outside so I started bottling up my feelings and became an unhealthy high performer. As G. once said, I like to think that I’m a rock when I’m actually a fluffy pink pony. The result is a big mess inside your head and a scared heart.Β 

The good thing about all my messy life experiences as a sensitive child and then adult is, nonetheless, that I have something that allows me to bond with sensitive kids. Before becoming an academic, I spent some good years working with kids. My classroom was a mix of discipline and playfulness, because discipline without playfulness and playfulness without discipline are methods that simply don’t work when the goal is to support a child’s human development.Β 

Kids need love, presence, and guidance. They need to be seen and listened to. They need freedom and space to let feelings arise so they can try to understand and express them. And most importantly… they need us, adults, to be courageous enough to deal with our own sensitivity and emotions. They need us to break the hard shell and become vulnerable. They need examples to follow and incorporate, not empty and silly behavioural rules that you can easily find in modern books of child psychology.Β 

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20 thoughts on “What Are We Doing To Our Sensitive Kids?

  1. I believe you summed it up well in your closing comment, Vanessa.
    “And most importantly… they need us, adults, to be courageous enough to deal with our own sensitivity and emotions.”
    We can’t give what we haven’t got… Maybe you and I, and others who feel strongly about changing these paradigms will be a great step toward the solution.
    xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is spot on! I love itπŸ’• I was also a sensitive child with no guidance in terms of how to handle my feelings, reactions or emotions. I am learning how to express my emotions now and love my sensitive nature, but it’s hard to undo what you’ve been taught to believe about being tender hearted. I have two sensitive daughters and I am so happy that I have a chance to teach them what is healthy and what is not so that they can feel empowered and know how to be their best selves. Thank you for sharing such an important perspective!

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    1. I always smile when I read about your journey and I get so happy to know your both daughters are sensitive and that they have such a beautiful sensitive mother to help them grow and flourish. It’s really beautiful! 😊 I agree so much with you, it’s very hard to undo. It has been also a bit like peeling an onion – when you think you are over it, there is another, more profound layer to deal with. It will never be a finished process but our kids deserve that we keep doing the work πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’— Thanks for setting and sharing you example!

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      1. Thank you!! It’s been really nice being able to share pieces of the journey with you since you understand it so well! I wish that the healing process didn’t take so long, but you’re AMAZING for facing it and dealing with the layers in a healthy way. You’re a beautiful example as well!

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  3. Wonderful post. There is a little information on the web about kids who are sensitive and they tend to hide it. I have had similar experiences since I was raised by strict parents. Grow up, be strong and don’t cry. For us, crying is the biggest sin. However, this becomes hazardous when we enter into relationships. It’s a roller coaster to emotions and at the end of the day. You are all alone by yourself. One needs to balance the mind to pay heed to genuine emotions so it doesn’t repeat the same old cycle.

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    1. Hey Pragati, thanks a lot for sharing your experience and perspective. I hear you and I agree with you, it requires a lot of balance and awareness to identify emotions and break free from negative behavioural cycles…

      Liked by 1 person

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