My journey of discovery into the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) trait.
Getting your child dressed & ready for school – sounds simple doesn’t it? Think again.
On the days when Daughter No. 1 gets out of bed happily, the getting dressed process can grind to an almighty halt when it comes to the socks.
First we need to choose the ‘right’ pair of socks. These can’t be the brand new, never to be worn socks in the drawer – oh no, for some reason there’s a distinct aversion to these. We finally agree on a pair and ask Daughter No. 1 to put them on.
‘No! I want YOU to help me!’
And so it starts..
The first sock is put on, and almost before we,ve finished, it,s whipped off again with a cry that it’s ‘scratchy’. I check the sock and smooth out any scratchy bits and try again. It’s whipped off again, and again, and again..
Usually thrashing around on the floor ensues, accompanied by flailing arms and legs, profuse crying and mild hysteria. The last initially just from Daughter No. 1, but as time goes on, sadly from me as well.
I’ve tried reasoning, hugs, making a game of it – ‘Oooh, are there monsters in your sock? Naughty socks, let’s shake them out!’
On really bad occasions I resort to threats of no TV for a week. Sometimes, nothing seems to work.
We’re lucky that our school is at the bottom of our road so there isn’t far to go. There have been many days I’ve walked our howling daughter to school while fighting back my own tears.
On an especially difficult morning, I remember finally getting my daughter through the school gates and dissolving into tears of exhaustion myself.
Mornings like this used to leave me feeling completely drained, despondent, a failure as a parent and really questioning whether we needed some professional intervention.
I started sharing my experiences with a friend who as fate would have it, has similar problems with her son. She pointed me in the direction of Elaine Aron’s book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person – How to thrive when the world overwhelms you’, and everything started to click into place.
Having answered ‘yes’ to many of the questions in the book, I realised that not only did Daughter No. 1 have the Highly Sensitive trait, but I did as well! This was truly a light bulb moment for me. It explained so much of what we were experiencing with our daughter and helped me understand myself as well.
I learnt that High Sensitivity, also known by its scientific term ‘Sensory Processing Sensitivity’ is a normal and innate trait found in 15-20% of the population. Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are more aware of subtleties than non-HSPs because their brains process information and reflect more deeply on it. This makes HSPs more aware of their physical surroundings and the emotions of people around them. This is a real gift, but it does mean that HSPs can become easily overwhelmed when things are too chaotic, intense or new.
Now when we have tantrums about scratchy socks, I understand that it’s a real problem for Daughter No. 1 and she isn’t just being contrary. It doesn’t take away the trauma but it does help me stay calmer for longer and I’m more willing to try different approaches.
I also know that if things get too intense, I need to walk away and deal with my own feelings of overwhelm before returning to deal with hers.
If you too have a child that has Gremlins in their socks and you are finding it hard to cope, you can find the parent’s questionnaire for Highly Sensitive Children here:
Here’s to happier and more relaxed mornings!
P.S. If you’ve found this blog useful & know someone else who would enjoy reading it, please feel free to share! We’re always happy to hear your comments too..