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Theoretical Framework

THE SENSITIVE CHILD

Sensitive kids are everywhere. Their numbers are estimated to be between 15 to 20% of children in a North American context, but they are often misunderstood or not recognized as being sensitive. What does it mean when we say a child is “sensitive” and how would you know if your child is among them?

They are the kids who get more easily overwhelmed, alarmed, intense, sensitive, prickly in their responses, and passionate in temperament. According to Thomas Boyce at the University of California, these ‘orchid’ children are neurobiologically distinct and possess an enhanced receptivity to their environment based on genotypical differences.

While no two sensitive kids are alike, their enhanced receptivity to sensory information leaves them without a “skin” against the world. Things can feel too much, too big, too cold, too loud, too hot, too smelly, too painful, and too overwhelming. In other words, they can easily feel bombarded by stimuli and this can stir them up emotionally.

Sensitive kids need strong caring relationships with adults who convey to them that they are not too big, too difficult, or too much of anything. Adults need to take a strong lead and convince a child they can count on them especially when it comes to dealing with a child’s mistakes or their challenging behaviour.

WEBINAR: Making Sense of sensitivity

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Dr Gordon Neufeld

Dr. Neufeld describes sensitive children as having heightened sensory receptiveness, making them more easily affected by sensory stimulation than other children. These children are intense and often very bright and/or creative. They are also prone to their brain having to protect them since they don’t have ‘the skin’ that others do to cope with their world. Frustration and alarm are two primary emotions that sensitive children often experience. Because they are greatly affected by their world, they are more susceptible to their brain erecting defenses to shield them against feeling too overwhelmed.

To view recording: https://vimeo.com/313312444

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EDITORIAL: Sense and Sensitivity: Understanding the Sensitive Child

Deborah MacNamara

Sensitive kids are everywhere. Their numbers are estimated to be between 15 to 20% of children in a North American context, but they are often misunderstood or not recognized as being sensitive. What does it mean when we say a child is “sensitive” and how would you know if your child is among them?

 

To read more: https://www.cebm.ca/post/sense-and-sensitivity-understanding-the-sensitive-child

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Helping Sensitive Children Flourish

Deborah MacNamara

Approximately 1 in 5 children are more affected or stirred up by their environment and stand out in comparison to their peers. They are the kids who get more easily overwhelmed, alarmed, intense, sensitive, prickly in their responses, and passionate in temperament. According to Thomas Boyce at the University of California, these ‘orchid’ children are neurobiologically distinct and possess an enhanced receptivity to their environment based on genotypical differences.

 

To read more: http://macnamara.ca/portfolio/helping-sensitive-children-flourish/

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What Sensitive Kids Would like You to Know About Them

Deborah MacNamara

“She is so dramatic and everything seems like a big deal,” said a baffled father of a 6-year old girl named Samantha. The mother tells me ‘Sam’ hates the tags on her clothes and loud noises, and hangs back to watch her peers before engaging with them. Sam complains when things are too windy, sunny, cold or hot, or noisy, like when the toilets flush.

 

To read more: https://www.cebm.ca/post/what-sensitive-kids-would-like-you-to-know-about-them

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Understanding the Sensitive Child from the Inside Out

Colleen Drobot

When my beautiful son entered this world, like many parents, I had a belief that if I just loved him and was a good parent, everything else would fall into place – like baking a cake right? It didn’t take long to realize the universe had other plans for me and I had some learning to do. You see, my son came into this world a very sensitive being.  Sensitivity can manifest in many ways and present differently in children. Many sensitive children experience tactile sensitivity – their clothes are itchy, tags need to be cut off, socks and underwear pose great problems. 

 

To read more: https://neufeldinstitute.org/understanding-the-sensitive-child-from-the-inside-out/

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Why Attachment Can Be Challenging With Sensitive Kids

Deborah MacNamara

In the Hans Christian Anderson’s fable, The Princess and the Pea, the sleeping princess is so sensitive that “she felt the pea through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.” Her sensitivity seems unbelievable, the substance of fairytales, unless, that is, you are a parent to a sensitive child yourself. Parents of sensitive kids will readily attest to their child’s heightened sensory receptivity to the world, with varying degrees of stimulation to touch, taste, smell, seeing, and hearing.

 

To read more: http://macnamara.ca/portfolio/why-attachment-can-be-challenging-with-sensitive-kids/

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“I don’t want to talk about it!” Leading a Sensitive Child into Vulnerable Territory

Deborah MacNamara

One of the key challenges faced by parents raising a sensitive child is leading them into vulnerable territory. They may try to avert attention away from difficult topics, erupt in silliness when facing something that is emotionally charged, or just tell you, “I don’t want to talk about it.” The goal is not to push a sensitive child into vulnerable territory but to read their needs and lead them there gently.

 

To read more: http://macnamara.ca/portfolio/i-dont-want-to-talk-about-it-leading-a-sensitive-child-into-vulnerable-territory/