When your HSC is showing signs of atypical behavior, how do you know it’s related to their personality or to a mental health issue that should be addressed by a professional?
Parents often wonder what the difference is: anxiety that is treatable by a mental health disorder, and the Highly Sensitive Personality trait that has led to behavior problems that is more effectively addressed by a change in parenting?
Today I want to talk about what to do to prevent these behaviors from starting in the first place.
Because without the foundation, you won’t be able to tell what is more concerning, and how to decide how to seek professional guidance.
If your HSC is clingy, hanging back and hiding his/her face, demonstrating a lack of skill in advocating for him/herself and melting down as the go-to “solution” to any stressor, then this is an indicator that your HSC is significantly struggling.
If your HSC’s initial emotional reaction e.g. crying, refusing, yelling, etc. is not quickly converted into a self-initiated calming behavior, then this is an indicator that your child does not have the skill to manage his/her big feelings.
There is a big difference between expressing emotions at a developmentally appropriate level, and MANAGING emotions at a developmentally appropriate level. Sure, yelling when very upset is justifiable for a child, but when it’s your HSC’s go-to, and they don’t know how to calm down, this is a problem.
When HSCs consistently struggle to manage their own intense emotions, despite your best efforts to teach them how to use skills, then there is a gap between emotional expression and emotional management. This is only addressed through parent support for HSCs.
Part of this gap is actually perpetuated by expecting your child to learn the skills on their own. A combination of a change in the environment: routine, delivery of your rules (read: semantics), and active teaching are all required for your child to put the skills they observe others to use into place for themselves, spontaneously.
If raising an emotionally independent child is a value of yours, your child needs to know when to come to you for support. If they’re regularly expecting you to manage their own emotions by yelling, blaming, and refusing to follow expectations, there is an imbalance in expectations. Your expectation that your kiddo can do it, with their current lack of skill, is the very reason why they are not “trying” to fix it themselves.
And this cycle will continue if you don’t break this pattern yourself. Learn how your child fits the personality trait. Study the research that shows HSCs have to experience a change in parent approach to succeed.
HSCs make up 20% of the population. You cannot use logic that applies to 80% of the population to parent your child and set your expectations and then blame your kid for not falling in line.
Highly Sensitive Children develop anxiety disorders when they are raised with expectations that save them from their struggles or force them through their struggles. Both sides of the pendulum lead to trouble.
If you need more support beyond that, I’m happy to speak with you about supporting your child through their struggles and starting 2020 feeling empowered.
Book your call to address that HERE!