Updated: Jul 9
I see many posts on social media of parents and family worried about their anxious and sensitive kids. As much as it is important to set on a journey for a diagnosis of special needs, to make sure the child gets the best support he/she needs, try considering that the kid is simply creative. That would mean focusing on the positive side of sensitivity, leveraging it for healthy growth.
I know the worry for sensitive kids from my own experience raising my talented daughters. You get tons of advice and consider so many possible things that might make the kids anxious. I have a paradigm shift advice: Try asking the kids what is troubling them. Then just listen until they finish. A good tip is to write a list on a note of what the kid is complaining about. The kid will feel so relieved, and you'll get a better sense of what they are experiencing.
My PBL, SEL and STEAM book Creative Children Like the Animals of the World was written and developed when my kids were little. I introduced nature and environment in a Man and the Living World Museum and needed stories. When I wrote, my daughters added the kids' point of view. And conflicts that troubled them were given response in the stories.
Try reading those stories to your anxious child. Then ask him/her to draw/doodle/color inspired by the surprising prompts the book offers. You'll learn so much about your kids, and will be able to give support based on the stories.
Why are creative kids anxious? Imagine a scale. On the one side there's aggression and on the other creativity. When creativity is down, aggression is up. Kind and loving kids do not like to behave aggressively. So they keep the aggression inside. And it becomes anxiety.
What to do? The best strategy is to enrich these sensitive kids' inner world and give them opportunities to create, expressing their usually precious insights and ideas. Your role is to serve as a mirror: Show how much you enjoy this productivity to build up their positive self-esteem.
It is important to know that creative people are characterized by intense emotions and polarity. For example, one moment they are objective about their ideas, the other they become subjective and judgmental about themselves. What I'm trying to say is, if your kids are wholeheartedly into laughing, making a commotion, say to yourself: At least they are not crying.
Finally, your kids may be very bright. Kids are like that today. In fact, levels of intelligence are increasing as time goes by. Yet emotionally the kids act the way you'd think children of lesser age would behave. This is also widely spread today, and characterizes creatively gifted kids. It's OK. You're mission is to balance intelligence with emotional intelligence. Nurture intellectual curiosity, but also help the kids know their own and others' feelings, and care. For example if they cry about something, say: You're sad, because..." Give names to your feelings when you share your worries with your kids, and they will do the same with you.
I hope this post gave you an opportunity
to see the bright side of you kids.
Do check out my book:
Creative Children Like the Animals of the World to nurture their curiosity and to ignite creative and emotional expression. Let their creativity please you, and let their insights help you better care for them.
Raising Creative Thinkers