As a child, I was very sensitive to adult’s feelings of frustration, especially when their emotions escalated into yelling. I hated when adults yelled, even if they were yelling at my classmates or teammates and not at me directly. My sixth grade soccer coach yelled so much that I was close to giving up soccer. I quit taking private cello lessons after my teacher told me that I wouldn’t have a “snowball’s chance in hell” at the upcoming solo and ensemble competition if I didn’t practice more. I even pretended to be sick on the first day of art camp so my mom would come pick me up because the teacher never stopped yelling, and I never went back.
When I became a preschool teacher, I began to notice this type of sensitivity in my students. Some students would burst into tears when a teacher reprimanded their friend, some would just get quiet. One child in particular seemed to absorb the emotions of anyone around her. If her teachers were stressed, she was in tears. If another child had a hard drop off, she missed her mom, too, and cried for the rest of the morning. She was aware of how her emotions impacted others as she was very aware of their reactions, but still she struggled to self-regulate. I could see how hard she was trying, but I was also very aware of the fact that many adults viewed her outbursts as a behavior issue at best, and straight up manipulation at worst. I was worried about how this kind of emotional response to any disturbance around her would affect her course through school, so I started researching ways that adults could support children through challenges like this. I was especially interested in helping parents understand their child’s behavior patterns so they could respond more conscientiously as well as advocate for their children as they move forward in school.
As a teacher, I aimed to be a voice and an advocate for the Highly Sensitive Children in my class. As a coach, I help parents understand their child’s sensitivities so that they can be better parents and stronger advocates for their children as they grow and encounter adults who just don’t get it.
If you are interested in learning more about Highly Sensitive Children, here are a few resources.
Think you might be highly sensitive? Take this test to learn more.