New Book by Dr. Elaine Aron: THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PARENT

Be Brilliant in Your Role, Even When the World Overwhelms You

I am delighted to report about the publication of Dr. Elaine Aron’s new book for highly sensitive parents, as I am certain that it will be a valued resource for HSPs who are raising children. Highly sensitive parents are parents who have a highly sensitive nervous system, an innate trait that is found in about 20% of the population, in equal numbers of men and women. There are four key characteristics of HSPs:

  • First is that they process all of the information that comes to them more thoroughly than the other 80% do.
  • Second, they are more emotionally responsive and have higher empathy.
  • Third, HSPs notice subtleties that others miss.
  • Finally, because of the other three aspects, they are taking in a lot and become overstimulated more quickly than others.

Because of these characteristics, highly sensitive parents are uniquely attuned to their children, think deeply about every issue affecting their kids, and have strong emotions, both positive and negative, in response to parenting. Because of all of this, they also find parenting far more stressful than parents who are not highly sensitive. The Highly Sensitive Parent is a unique book that offers these parents strategies for handling stressors, as well as relationship issues that arise especially for this group.

It is important to point out that  THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PARENT is not a parenting book. It is written more for highly sensitive people who are parents to better respond and manage the demands of parenting as well as their own high sensitivity. In short, to become the best possible parent by reducing the overstimulation you are experiencing as an HSP and fitting in more self-care and down time.

Topics covered in The Highly Sensitive Parent include:

  • Coping with Overstimulation – Managing breaks, boundaries, and how to react when it gets overwhelming;
  • Getting Help – Whether it’s from parents, in-laws, teachers, neighbors, or day-care, the idea of help is to be the best parent you can be;
  • Enjoying and Regulating Your Responsiveness – From toddler tantrums to teenage angst, how manage your methods, examine your emotions, and get your rest;
  • Navigating Intensive Social Contact – Teachers, babysitters, doctors, in-laws, your parents, other parents – how to balance setting limits on the types and frequency of your social interactions without putting a damper on your child’s social life or development;
  • Sensitive Parents and Their Partners – Weathering new stressors, from parenting styles and workloads and conflict do’s-and-don’ts (and conflict skills for HSPs);
  • 8 Ways to Make Strengthen the Foundation of Your Parenting Partnership – Don’t miss the chance to repair, grow, and deepen the relationship with your co-parent.

Being a parent is one of the hardest and most valuable job you probably will ever do. As a Highly Sensitive Parent, you have a different set of challenges but also rewards and, the author hopes, an emotionally fulfilling and enriching experience. Not only can your child thrive, but so can you.

See reader reviews and buy this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., a clinical and research psychologist, is the internationally bestselling author of The Highly Sensitive Person (translated into 22 languages) and its companion books: The Highly Sensitive Parent, The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, The Highly Sensitive Child, and Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person. Credited for first recognizing high sensitivity as an innate trait and pioneering the study of HSPs since 1990, she has established the Foundation for the Study of Highly Sensitive Persons, maintains the website and online resource http://www.HSPerson.com, and has published numerous scientific articles on sensitivity in the leading journals in her field.

This book review is based on excerpts from the Press Release by the Kensington Publishing Corp. provided by Anne Pryor (apryor@kensingtonbooks.com).

When I will have a chance to read the book myself, I will update this review.

Ildiko Davis
HSP Mentor, Counsellor and Focusing Practitioner
Article written by Ildiko Davis (e-mail: ildiko.davis@yahoo.co.uk)

The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Instruction Manual

A lighthearted way to communicate about your needs as an HSP

Model No. BF270786

FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTION

The BF270786 HSP contains a highly sensitive central nervous system. With
great care you can ensure optimal functioning and longevity, and enjoy the
benefits.

FEATURES

Enhanced sensitivity to sensory stimuli
Automatic pause-to-check mode
Built-in intuition and empathy
Increased intensity of emotional experience
Automatic reflective processing mode

To ensure maximal operation of your HSP adhere to the following instructions:

• DO NOT rush your HSP. Allow time and give advance notice of future
plans.
• DO NOT overload your HSP with multiple tasks. Your HSP will attempt to
cope with tasks but will become more easily over-stimulated.
• DO NOT expose to strong smells, bright lights or unexpected loud noise.
Provide extra care during trips to supermarket or in crowded areas.
Reduce overexposure to television or computer activities.
• Acknowledge and respect differences in emotional reactivity and reflective
processing.

OVER-STIMULATION

In cases of heightened emotional experience your HSP is likely to burnout. Be
aware of how you express negative energy, as your HSP is very sensitive in
this aspect. Provide calming environment and soothing voices.
In the event of coldness or tiredness, which will increase sensitivity to
coldness, provide your HSP with blankets/bedding/warmth.
In the event of overheating, remove your HSP to a cool area. Hydrate and
leave to rest until your HSP returns to normal temperature.

You are perfect exactly as you are

 

barbara_allen-w

TO RESET YOUR HSP

Give your HSP space and time, herbal tea, regular healthy food, natural environments, relaxing music and plenty of rest.

ENJOY BEING WITH YOUR HSP!

Additional information at http://hsperson.com

Barbara Allen

Founder and Director
National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC
Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

The Normal Needs of Highly Sensitive Children at School

Advice for parents of highly sensitive children who have concerns about their child’s behaviour at school.

 

Many parents of highly sensitive children have concerns about their child’s enjoyment of school. For some of these children, attending school can be extremely challenging and stressful. Parents who are not aware of their child’s sensitive trait may begin to wonder if something is dreadfully wrong. However, once parents have the information they need, there are all kinds of things they can do to give attuned and positive support to a child for whom everything matters and potential is unlimited.

Highly Sensitive ChildOver the years, my practice has become more and more busy with work related to parenting of highly sensitive children. Two types of parents are most common:

(a) parents who are really worried there is something the matter with their children and are worried the child is about to get labelled autistic, ADD or similar and at all costs want to avoid a ‘diagnosis’,

and

(b) parents who already think that their child is highly sensitive (has sensory processing sensitivity) and want to support them. All of these parents are caring and want the best for their children, some might secretly hope that I will find a way to make their child ‘fit in’ with expectations, particularly of their school and also of the larger family group and culture.

Four out of five sensitive children presenting in my practice are boys, which is an interesting statistic when you think that sensory processing sensitivity is distributed equally between the sexes. Children mostly arrive between the ages of 7 and 10, with some as young as 5 and some in their teens. Every single one of these children is causing concern to parents because of their levels of anxiety, exhaustion and distress around their schooling. At home they are calm and happy, the distress being when they start to think about school.

So what’s going on? Well, let’s start with what sensory processing sensitivity actually is. As Dr Elaine Aron describes it, it is a genetically inherited trait, it is normal, and found in up to 20% of the population in varying degrees. Not only is it found in humans in this ratio, but also animals, fruit flies, fish and so on. A characteristic of all beings with sensory processing sensitivity is the ‘pause to check’ trait. In other words, rather than move immediately towards something new, the person or animal with SPS will hang back a little, observe and reflect before entering the new situation. Having a number of any tribe, family, or species born with this trait has a direct effect on survival strategies and success. Some situations demand a quick and direct response, but a minority of situations require thought and consideration before going ahead. If everyone responded the same, then a dangerous choice could wipe out an entire clan. The hanging back, is not shyness or hesitation, it is a positive strategy.

All highly sensitive children have the following four things in common, without exception: depth of processing, a propensity for over-stimulation or over-arousal, emotional intensity and sensory sensitivity. Apart from those things, sensitive children have just as much individuality and variety of traits within them as anyone else. These four factors of the sensitivity trait do however, affect how they respond to the world around them.

Let’s have a look at school from a sensitive child’s perspective. Most of the children I see tell me that school is ‘very loud’, ‘children hurt each other’, ‘teachers shout’ and they are not allowed to ‘be quiet’. They also complain that the days are long, school clothing can be itchy, the floor is hard, the classroom smells funny and people expect them to say things before they are ready. They also dislike people looking at them or making them the centre of attention (even the extravert HSCs) and get very concerned if another child is upset. The walls are full of overstimulating colours and people talk through all the lessons. Considering the four traits of HSCs, school has the potential to be a nightmare, with relentless noise, social interaction, lack of space for quiet reflection and numerous situations that trigger the HSC’s intense emotions. It is no wonder that these children often withdraw at school and have meltdowns when they get home.

So what can parents do to help their child’s school to offer a more HSC-friendly environment? Information is the key, and if necessary some training for teachers on managing sensitive children at school. HSCs need to have a few minutes of quiet time several times a day in order for their sensitive nervous system to calm from the over-stimulating environment. Given that an HSC’s nervous system is highly organised, it is very sad that they often are so over-stimulated that schools sometimes wonder if they have learning difficulties, when the opposite is often the case. Over-stimulation also causes levels of cortisol to rise and regular snacks, especially protein, can help to keep levels down. HSCs are also prone to sudden drops in sugar levels (resulting in feelings of anger and lack of focus), so opportunities to eat more often are very important.

Emotionally, HSCs are very tuned in to their own and others feelings. They cannot quickly recover from wounds and upset that most children simply brush off with ease. This is part of their charm and depth and an essential part of who they are. HSCs also have a strong startle reflex – this means a loud noise or sudden emotional buffeting may cause a big effect. HSCs in general have very quick reflexes, an advantage in some ways, and not in others. This startle reflex does not go away in adulthood and their deep and intense emotional responses mean that bullying in particular (whether physical or emotional), needs to be resolved promptly and permanently. HSCs become highly distressed when witnessing cruelty – rather than trying to ‘toughen them up’, it is important to recognise that part of the role of sensitive individuals in terms of survival is to be the ‘Canary in the mine’ – announcing that something is not right – these warnings cannot be heard if sensitive individuals lose their voice. Rather, encourage them to talk about what distresses them and value their insights into the kind of behaviour that makes the world a better place. Teachers can help with this by being calm and kind authority figures, willing to listen and accepting of sensitivity.

So, going back to the ratio of boys and girls attending my practice – I do think that most of the boys are there because their sensitivity is considered alien within the larger culture. At school, rough playground games, shouting and pushing, competing and dominating are considered normal for boys. Even well-meaning fathers question whether they should allow their sons to cry (even at age 7), or give them hugs or pull them onto their laps. They question the child’s preference for sports that are done alone rather than rough games in teams, even wondering if these sensitive young boys are homosexual. In case you are wondering, there are no more gay or lesbian highly sensitive people than there are in the non-highly sensitive population.

The bottom line is that it is harder for sensitive male children. The most common criticism that male HSCs have regarding their father is ‘he doesn’t listen’. I believe that fathers are conflicted as to what they should expect from their sensitive sons – tellingly, they are less conflicted in responding to sensitive daughters needs. Given this gender question, it is not difficult to imagine that unconsciously, even teachers might be expressing their frustrations at trying to understand a sensitive child, particularly an articulate, emotional or over-stimulated boy. I do recommend Dr Ted Zeffs book ‘The strong sensitive boy’ as a guide for parenting male HSCs, it is full of advice and also the recollections of now-adult sensitive men about what worked for them and what didn’t. I also recommend Dr Elaine Aron’s book ‘The highly sensitive child” which is full of explanations, advice, information and strategies.

barbara_allen-wGiven that school can be so demanding for HSCs, just to spend a whole day in that environment, I feel that probably the best advice I could give parents is not to make any more demands once the child is out of school. Let them choose their own activities, give them half an hour on their own after school, to calm their nervous system. Don’t make them attend play-dates or after school activities unless they are asking to do so. If your child continues to be over-stimulated, stressed and exhausted, consider online schooling as an alternative, although most HSCs do continue to enjoy the social part of school life if they are allowed to do this in their own way. Also, remember that HSCs respond best to praise. Correction or criticism needs to be very light. Make sure your child has quiet time before bed and an opportunity to talk about anything that is bothering them before sleep, so they don’t continue to worry during the night. Above all, let them know you appreciate their sensitivity, their thoughtfulness, the way they think carefully about things, the kindness they show to friends, siblings and pets. That you love them just the way they are.

Barbara Allen
Founder and Director
National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC
Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)