Help Is On Its Way – A Book Review

I have no idea where I read about Jenna Forrest’s painfully honest book about being a highly sensitive child, but I’m glad I bought it. It’s a fascinating and insightful read into the mind of a highly sensitive child.

“‘I swear, Jenna. You’re so sensitive they could put you down a mine instead of a canary,’ Mom remarked.” Jenna Forrest, Help is on Its Way

Help is on its way book cover

The emotions in this book are raw. It’s about growing up feeling out of place, with no one really understanding your sensitive nature.

“The stress of processing so much information at once makes my blood pump wearily. Escape seems necessary.” Jenna Forrest, Help is on Its Way

Jenna writes about life with her parents, her feelings as they separate and then divorce. She writes beautifully about her feelings, and finds a way to support her way through her youth with emotions that are at times too much to bear. She writes about the big things.

“It’s lurking existence sends me into that funk again, that grey mood that floods me with feelings too big to shoulder all by myself.”

And she captures the every day, ordinary things too, things people who are not highly sensitive wouldn’t bat an eyelid at. Things like forming circles and shaking hands with each other at a camp.

“Such forced contact with so many strangers gets me feeling antsy in no time.”

This is no easy lighthearted read, but it’s an important read. It’s a book we all hope our children would never be able to write.

Jenna is searching for someone to understand her, to know how it feels to feel things so intensely, to feel different and pick up other people’s feelings and care so much.

“What bothers me is that his heart is not detectable by my most discerning radar.”

Her childhood is a search for help. She finds Frank.

“How do I put my inner world into words?” she asks. How many highly sensitive people can relate to that question I wonder. A busy mind, racing all the time. Exhausting. Overwhelming.

She comes to learn that she needs to take care of herself, that it’s important to take a step back and look after her needs instead of everyone else’s.

“Before you can save anyone else, you have to first become a master at taking care of yourself.”

There is counselling and Jenna also finds help and comfort in her journaling.

help-is-on-its-way-book-review-quoteThis is a great book to read if you want to know how it feels to grow up as a highly sensitive person.

You can find this book on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com or on Bol.com or Book Depository.

Top Tips: 

  • Take your child’s feelings seriously and don’t dismiss them with comments of “You’re so sensitive.”
  • Listen to your child. Let them know you are a safe person to talk to without judgement.
  • Journaling helps. It really does. It can help your child (and you!) name their feelings and understand what is whirring around their mind.

 

 

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Is the Social-Emotional Development of Your Highly Sensitive Child Being Misread?

Have you ever been told that your highly sensitive child (HSC) is lagging behind in their social-emotional development? You certainly wouldn’t be the first parent of a HSC to hear this. But what if we look at social situations or emotional reactions from the perspective of a highly sensitive child? If we look through their eyes maybe we see something other than a delay in social-emotional development. Author Josina Intrabartolo (Scrivo Media), writer of many books on the topic of highly sensitive (including Long Hat which has been written especially for HSCs), explains how the social-emotional development of a HSC can easily be misread.

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Highly Sensitive Children and Overnight Stays Away from Home

Highly sensitive children like safe, known and trusted places and people. They are often comfortable being in the company of a few and are homebodies. So what happens when they stay a night somewhere without their parents or guardians?

Well in all honesty I cannot answer that question from personal experience. My children wouldn’t willingly stay overnight without me or their father for all the sweets in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (yes, we are reading that book at the moment).

Highly Sensitive Children and Overnight Stays Away from HomeThe mere hint of an introduction to the idea ended in tears in our house. Even with us sitting downstairs my youngest is a terrible sleeper and he usually ends in tears at some point during the evening or night. Never mind suggesting he goes to stay the night at someone else’s house or a place where his mama and papa are not.

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Why This Mother of Highly Sensitive Kids Loves Her Slow Cooker

My slow cooker is one of the best things I have ever bought. And I am saying that with my ‘mother of highly sensitive children’ hat on. Really. Bear with me. It totally saves the day when kids come home with a full bucket from school.

Why This Mother of Highly Sensitive Kids Loves Her Slow Cooker

Most parents of highly sensitive children (HSC) will tell you that those few hours after school are the toughest of the day. HSCs are exhausted from their day in busy classrooms and an overstimulating environment. I have three HSCs and on most school days I am walking on egg shells with them. They need my help. They need me on hand to remind them how to empty their buckets. They often need me with them to stop them from bickering, arguing and taking their overwhelming day out on each other.

I learnt the hard way that stepping away into the kitchen to make dinner paves the way for bucket spillage that is hard on everyone, not least me. After all preventing a spill is easier than mopping it up…..

And that is where my slow cooker (or crock pot) comes in. I get everything ready whilst the boys are in school and then put the slow cooker on. When we need dinner it’s there and I can be wholly present for my children when they come in – at a time they need me most.

A slow cooker is a great tool for those days when you know your child will need your help. You can use the free Happy Sensitive Kids bucket activity to help you plan ahead so you know when getting everything ready in advance will really pay off.

(For recipe ideas check out my Pinterest board or treat yourself to a slow cooker recipe book. This is a slow cooker recipe book I use regularly if you like spicy food and curries and one. If anyone has a recommendation for a good crock pot recipe book then please shout!

Over To You: What tools do you use to help you be fully present for your children when they come home with full buckets?

 

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6 Signs Your Highly Sensitive Child is Overwhelmed (aka Their Bucket is Full)

Highly sensitive children (HSC) process the world around them intensely so they are often more quickly overwhelmed than other children.

Here are six ways you can recognise that your HSC has reached their limit, or in other words when their bucket is full and they need your help. (Remember that all children are different and so the extent to which an activity, event or environment overwhelms a child also differs, and how that overwhelm manifests itself differs too.)

6 Signs Your Highly Sensitive Child is Overwhelmed (aka Their Bucket is Full)1. Your Child Retreats to a Quiet Space

A child may retreat to a quiet space and express the desire to be alone. Creating a space they feel comfortable in, where they can go to as and when they want will help them deal with their emotions. It may be their bedroom, or elsewhere in the house.  Use a Happy Sensitive Kids door hanger to help them communicate that they need peace and space without a long discussion.

Should you be outside your home, identify an area when you arrive in a new place where your child can retreat to if they need space. Agreeing on a safe, quiet place before the need arises may ease your HSC’s mind a great deal.

2. Your Child Displays Big Emotions Without Obvious Reason

Your child may suddenly display emotions that seem disproportionate to something that just happened or they just experienced. A meltdown or tears may seemingly come out of nowhere, but is actually the result of a build up of emotions over a period of time. A common example is a meltdown once a child reaches the safety of home, triggered by the wrong word uttered by a sibling at the end of a school day. At that point it’s the build up of stimulation from the classroom, rather than the comment from a brother that’s behind the big emotions but a HSC no longer has control over their emotions – and their bucket spills over.

3. Your Child Shows Anger

Your child may suddenly become angry, go into an (unexplained) rage or even be aggressive. This is especially true for young children who cannot yet regulate their emotions or put them into words. Walking around with a full bucket is frustrating and tiring – an overstimulated child who cannot understand why they are feeling the way they do often ends up resembling a volcano. This is common in our house around bedtime when one of my children realise that their bucket is still full – and sleeping just isn’t an option yet – there’s lots of stomping and frustration coming out.

Helping your child out their anger or frustration in a controlled manner will ensure that nobody gets hurt! Think about things like a punch bag, a cushion or pillow to hit, a football to kick or get them screaming as loud as they can – or simply a hug.

4. Your Child Cries Uncontrollably

Your child’s frustration, anger or overwhelm may also show itself in the form of tears, lots and lots of uncontrollable sobbing. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but holding your child whilst they out their feelings with tears can be exactly what they need. Don’t tell your child to stop crying, instead let them know you are there for them as soon as they’re ready to talk, if they want to. Sometimes a child reaches the point where they simply cannot take anymore – and have no control over their emotions. In these situations there’s nothing worse than being told there’s no need to cry…….

5. Your Child is Hyperactive

Your child may literally bounce around the house, with energy that feels like it knows no bounds. This is one of the reasons that highly sensitive children are often mistaken as having ADHD for example, where in actual fact a classroom is just too stimulating for a child.

Often a HSC will be a model pupil in school and will sit still and do what is required – holding all their emotions, experiences and thoughts in. This bottling up will manifest itself in some way – and that may be with hyperactive behaviour. Channel that energy into activities that will help your child release everything that has been bottled up during the day – running, football or creative expression. Finding what works is trial and error.

6. Physical Ailments

Our bodies are masterful at letting us know when we have had as much stress as we can take. If your HSC starts complaining about physical ailments such as headaches or stomachaches then listen. Whilst they may not have a virus or sickness as such, what they feel is real. Their bodies are not coping and physical ailments that disappear quickly are a telltale sign of feeling overwhelmed. Some children even get an unexplained fever, particularly towards the end of a school week. Give them the time and space to recover. The overwhelm is real.

In all cases it may seem, particularly to the outside world, that your child is acting up and displaying unacceptable behaviour. Being told by others that you are making a fuss of your child, spoiling your child or allowing them to get away with undesired behaviour, makes parenting a highly sensitive child tough. Comments from ‘helpful’ bystanders will certainly make you doubt yourself and your parenting skills. However, if you can learn over time exactly what lies behind your HSC’s outbursts and behaviour and you will be able to intrinsically trust your instinct and support your child accordingly.

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How to Help Your Highly Sensitive Child Back to School After the Summer Break

It’s possible that your highly sensitive child (HSC) is showing little enthusiasm for their return to school after the summer break. Sharing the virtues with them of a return to a routine and structure will probably not be enough to win them over, despite it being a valid positive.

Time and time again in the Happy Sensitive Kids forum it’s clear that school presents a specific challenge for HSCs because of:

  • Noise in the classroom.
  • The constant changing of activities.
  • The pressure to perform.
  • Not knowing what is coming up that day/week.
  • Trying to please a teacher.
  • The inability to deal with a teacher’s harsh tone of voice or showing of anger or displeasure with something or someone.
  • Dislike of conflict or classroom politics.
  • Repetitive lessons, instruction or study materials which fail to challenge a HSC. Many HSCs are extremely bright, good students who pick things up quickly- something that is not always recognised because they also get easily overwhelmed and lose focus and concentration.

How to Help Your Highly Sensitive Child Back to School After the Summer Break

Sitting with your child’s teacher early in the new school year can help them understand your child and their needs right from the start. Don’t assume that information from the previous school year is passed on succinctly to the new teacher – remember that your child is just one of many children a teacher needs to get to know. Don’t assume that the tools and methods that were successfully implemented in a previous school year will be automatically applied in the new school year. At the start of a new school year it’s often best to be THAT parent!

Plan a discussion with your child’s teacher around:

  • Your child’s particular sensitivities – explain what overwhelms them in the classroom: noise, visual stimuli, emotions, information overload, lots of activity around them, the raised voice of a teacher.
  • How your child feels about coming to school. Many display negative emptions about attending school. Being upfront with your child’s teacher can help them help your child – after all a teacher is the expert when it comes to educating your child. Fresh ideas are always welcome.
  • Your child’s seating arrangements  in the classroom. A HSC can easily be overwhelmed sitting in the middle of the classroom and may be better suited to sitting at an outer desk. Humming from the computers may be annoying, the white board too bright and next to the classroom entrance may prove too distracting. Your child’s sensitivities will help your child’s teacher understand where best to place your child.
  • Giving your child the space, time and opportunities for quiet moments. HSCs need quiet time to recharge and that applies in school too. Think about noise reducing earphones, moving to a quiet space in the hallway to complete a task before rejoining the class, a reading corner or a library area, running errands to get your child away from the busy class for a few minutes.
  • Recognising when your child is lacking challenge. A HSC is easily stressed and finding the balance between staying interested and challenged but also being able to perform under pressure is difficult but important. Many HSCs dislike going to school because of the environment but are actually eager to learn.

Planning a follow up sit down with your child and their teacher can also be beneficial. A teacher can instantly discuss ideas or tools with your child and your child immediately knows he or she is being taken seriously, which may help them settle in the new classroom.

As far as home goes you can also help your HSC by giving them the time and space to talk out their school day and providing them with the opportunity to wind down and empty their buckets. Often a small thing gets built up in a HSCs mind and talking about it can really help them get perspective. Most of all, help your HSC take the start of their new school year one day at a time……….

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Calm Kids Book Review

A highly sensitive child generally needs more down time than other children. Finding ways to help them empty their bucket after a particularly busy day or after their school day  is key to restoring their emotional balance.

With that in mind I got myself a copy of Lorraine E. Murray’s Calm Kids (Help Children Relax with Mindful Activities) (US Amazon link here).

Calm Kids - A Book Review

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