You may have ever heard the concept of “highly sensitive people “. What does this mean? Is it something bad, a pathology? Is it due to overly permissive or consenting parents?
We all know someone who gives us the feeling that emotions overwhelm him, envelop him, even surpass him. That person who is capable of feeling everything in a very intense way, both his own and that of others, because he has a tremendous facility to empathize with others. Does this sound familiar to you?
Maybe that super sensitive someone is your son or your daughterBut how do you recognize if you fit into this type of person?
In this article we are going to tell you what are the characteristics of highly sensitive boys and girls, not with the intention of hanging a label on them, but so that, understanding why they behave in a certain way, we can offer them a treatment and an education that takes into account all their individualities.
What does it mean to be a highly sensitive person?
The psychologist Úrsula Perona explains that “high sensitivity is a trait that is related to the central nervous system and the sensitivity with which people perceive the environment, stimuli, process information, and experience or express emotions “.
Elaine Aron, Ph.D. and researcher in psychology, describes 4 main features that highly sensitive people have:
1. Information processing and decision making:
Highly sensitive boys and girls have a very high level of information processing, as Úrsula explains to us, “this means that they are people who tend to have a certain mental tension, think about things a lot before doing them, and facing the thought pattern of ‘I think, I act and, depending on the results, I correct’ , what these people do is think a lot and then act “. This can lead to it being difficult for them to make decisions that are excessively ruminant or even obsessive.
2. The way of experiencing emotions, own and others, of highly sensitive people:
Úrsula Perona also points out that these people have a great sensitivity when experiencing one’s own emotions, but also to perceive the emotions of others: they are very empathetic children. “And this has been demonstrated with neuroimaging images, brain scans have been made, computerized tomographies in which brain activity is seen, and they are children who have highly stimulated areas of the brain where mirror neurons are located, which are what make us perceive the emotional states of others “, clarifies the psychologist.
Furthermore, Úrsula also points out that “at the same time, any external stimulus is experienced in a very intense way, with which everything affects them more, and when it comes to expressing it they can also be more reactive children: if they cry, they cry very intensely; if they are happy, they are very happy; if they get angry it can be a great explosion … “.
3. The way to perceive sensory stimuli:
There is another feature that is related to the subtlety when receiving sensory stimuli: smell, touch, hearing, sight, taste… they have a sensory finesse that, in turn, makes them more easily disturbed, because everything that comes from outside is perceived in a very intense way.
Úrsula Perona explains to us that, for example, “in a baby we would see this if it wakes up very easily, if it is disturbed at the slightest noise … and many times we attribute this, wrongly, to whether it is a fussy child, or too spoiled … , and it has nothing to do with this. ”
Furthermore, the psychologist adds that “when we think that by doing this our child manipulates us or wants to annoy us, we are very wrong. Let’s think that if you are comfortable sleeping, what you want and need is to continue sleeping, you have no need or interest in waking up to the slightest noise or 50 times a night, it is because you are very sensitive to changes “.
4. Overexcitement in highly sensitive children:
As Úrsula explains, the fourth characteristic would be overexcitement. “These people perceive everything that happens and what they feel in such an intense way that it can be overwhelming “.
For example, highly sensitive children often have a more introverted or shy character when young. They also tend to have a taste for the arts and great creativity, due to that special sensitivity and ability to express themselves through art.
“Often, because of the ease of worrying about momentous matters, questions, concerns … may appear on existential issues, that a priori that we would not associate with young children, such as wars, the meaning of life, evil … “, says the psychologist.
In short, “we have a profile of very emotional, sensitive, empathic, creative children, and with a capacity to process information and decide based on analysis. This is because they are able to integrate sensory information with events from the past to when it comes to making decisions “, explains Úrsula Perona.
What should we do if we have a highly sensitive child?
To this question, Úrsula Perona is clear: “The first thing is to understand”. In addition, he adds that “when you understand where the child’s behavior comes from, your behavior changes completely. I advocate conscious parenting, being aware of why your child behaves like this, you will handle it in a different way, with more patience” .
“In education we fail when we wrongly attribute the behaviors of our children. However, if we understand that he is overwhelmed by emotions or very worried about something that is happening to him, that is what makes him behave in a certain way, we can be understanding, giving him emotional support, we will accompany him in what is happening to him … That is the key “, concludes Úrsula.