People without children underestimate the formidable task of child-rising, especially the role Moms play in raising happy, healthy, and emotionally-balanced kids. This is because they rarely catch a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes drama that most Moms have to deal with as a matter of course. They see Moms as counselors, advisors, teachers, and coaches, but rarely see them diligently working on keeping the bathroom a safe place from slips and falls and burns from scalding water, regulating meal-times and bedtimes, and patiently explaining to curious little minds how life works.
Still, despite acquiring a repertoire of life skills on how to guide and navigate the safety, well-being, and cheerfulness of their little ones, even Moms are challenged when dealing with kids’ sensitivities to different things.
If you’re a Mom who has a child with sensitivities, then you should consult with a pediatrician. However, while a pediatrician might be able to give you some general advice since there is a wide range of sensitivities, each with its particular treatment protocol, your pediatrician will also probably recommend a medical specialist or psychologist. In addition to working with medical professionals, there are also many practical steps you can take to alleviate their distress.
Here are 3 examples of practical steps that you can take if your child is sensitive to fabrics, chemicals, or loud noises:
1. Sensitivity to fabrics.
If your child is sensitive to things like seams on clothing, they make clothes for that. If your child complains that clothes close to their skin pinches or itches, then you should consider looking into seamless clothing for kids. The rather amazing technology used to make these clothes eliminates snags, bunches, and seams in fabrics close to the skin like socks and underwear.
2. Sensitivity to chemicals.
If dyes or perfumes in soaps, sunscreens, moisturizers and shampoos cause your child to experience reactions like eczema, asthma flare-ups, or other health issues, you can buy personal care products without any chemicals. Other things you can also do to reduce your child’s exposure to harmful chemicals is to use organic bedding, use products to dechlorinate shower and bath water, and use chemical-free laundry detergents and household cleaning products. In addition, it’s advisable to use a HEPA air purifier, preferably one with a charcoal prefilter to remove harmful particulates in the air.
3. Sensitivity to loud noises.
If your child is hypersensitive to sound, it’s important to see an audiologist. They will be able to diagnose if your child has hyperacusis. Children who have this condition have acute hearing and they experience many ordinary sounds as uncomfortably loud or painful. In terms of practical measures to take, you’ll have to keep track of which particular sounds distress your child and then remove your child from situations that cause them distress. It’s also important that you inform any caregivers about the list of sounds your child finds intolerable.
High Awareness, Intelligence, and Compassion
In a Psychology Today article, The Highly Sensitive Child, an award winning author and parenting expert, Maureen Healy, references the work of Elaine Aron, who has researched the many issues involved in raising a highly sensitive child. According to Aron, a “highly sensitive child is one of the fifteen to twenty percent of children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything.”
Healy points out that a highly sensitive child often has an acute sense of awareness because they are intellectually gifted, highly creative, emotionally aware and compassionate. She suggests seeing sensitivity as a gift, partnering with your child, and focusing on strengths. Positive parenting is based on making your child feel accepted. She advises parents to make an effort to connect, be gentle with discipline, and work to create a calm, soothing home environment.
In conclusion, raising a highly sensitive child is a complex issue. Besides the necessity of getting expert advice from medical specialists and child psychologists, as well as taking practical steps to assuage the source of distress, you also have to develop a completely different parenting style; one focused less on traditional notions of how to raise a child and more on learning how to manage a gifted child who is often acutely aware and reactive to specific environmental stimulus.
Jenna B is a blogger based out of the the Los Angeles suburbs. When she’s not writing, you can frequently find her hiking, biking and spending time with her family.