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Very sensitive DD - I feel I am getting it all wrong with her.

(27 Posts)
peggotty Wed 17-Nov-10 21:01:07

She is nearly 6, a very sensitive little girl and I feel like I am a shit parent as I really lack patience with her. She is freaked out by loads of things that most other children wouldn't bat an eyelid about. She's very reluctant to try new things or go anywhere different. I'm so scared she going to grow up to be anxious and inhibited. Part of it is my fault as I'm not a consistent mum - sometimes I can be patient and explain things to her and other times I'm shouty and horrible. I am terrified she will grow up with low self esteem yet the way I am with her is probably going to contribute to just that.

I have the book 'The Highly Sensitive Child' but I just can't get on with it, it seems a bit airy-fairy to me and not that practical. Does anyone have any more advice on how I can help her?

mamsnet Wed 17-Nov-10 21:07:51

Couldn't let this post go unanswered. I have a four year old DD who sounds a lot like yours in many ways and I can particularly empathise, right now, with the feeling of not always being consistent.

Can I just recommend that you give the book another shot? I really did find it helped. You say it's a bit airy fairy, but there are practical ideas too. For example: it recommends that you prepare your child well, in advance, for things that might be too much for her. This Halloween I took her to a shop, showed her masks, told her that people she liked might be wearing them, tried one on, encouraged her to try it on (she didn't..) etc. It definitely helped. After Halloween she has spent weeks drawing all the scary characters, and writing the names beside them. I think it's her way of processing the entire event.

I leave the book by my bed and often pick it up to read a few pages. It's usually enough to kickstart me again. smile

iwasyoungonce Wed 17-Nov-10 21:13:49

OMG I could have written that OP - except my DD is 4. We are due to see the school nurse soon about her anxiety issues. I feel like I handle it badly too.

Sometimes I can be patient etc., but other times her anxieties seem so illogical that it frustrates the hell out of me, and I end up shouting... then feel bloody terrible.

I am so sick of being the only mum having to dance with her at the kids disco (for example) when all the other kids are running around together quite happily.

I'll be watching this to see if anyone else can recommend any books/ tips.

LeninGrad Wed 17-Nov-10 21:17:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

howdoo Wed 17-Nov-10 21:18:53

I agree that it's airy fairy, but I find reading a bit of it helps me to see things from my DS's point of view, which helps me to be a bit more patient with him. I read some today as DS has been interpreting things at school quite negatively (eg he got hit and interpreted it as deliberate, whereas having spoken to the other mum it seems to have been accidental) and it helps me to be kinder to him in a way.
BTW, I'm also patient, patient, patient, and then awful shouty - I think most mums are! And your DD is who she is, you're not making her a certain way. I find if I try to accept this is who DS is, it actually takes the pressure off me. And finally, she is still really young, she may be quite different in a few months!

peggotty Wed 17-Nov-10 21:27:38

Thanks Mamsnet - yes I should give the book another look - I'm just not good at remembering what to 'do', according to the book, in certain situations iykwim. I really have been working on accepting her as she is and not trying to make her do things she doesn't want to do. I always stay with her at parties etc and she is always the one who is standing with me when there is an entertainer there or who doesn't want to join in the games except the ones she knows she can do. Iwasyoungonce, my dd's anxieties also seem so illogical sometimes and I really really try to understand them but it's so hard!!
Leningrad, her teacher has commented that she is very sensitive but it doesn't seem to be impacting particularly at school - she doesn't fit with the description of PDA on your link - that sounds tough for you and your ds to be coping with.

peggotty Wed 17-Nov-10 21:31:29

howdoo, she is still young. I think she will learn how to cope with things better as she gets older - it just makes me sad sometimes as I think she misses out on things because she's too scared to try them. How old is your ds?

LeninGrad Wed 17-Nov-10 21:33:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

peggotty Wed 17-Nov-10 21:46:43

She hates the variety of party that has an entertainer/disco/loud music/lights etc and will more or less sit with me throughout. I have started (subtly) trying to find out what kind of party it's going to be before we reply to the invite! She says she doesn't like loudness/noisiness mainly. She also won't watch anything on tv that isn't very familiar and known (cbeebies which she's getting too old for really) or go to the cinema because films are 'scary' (my fault again as I tried to get her to watch some disney films when she was about 3 and my god, they are quite scary!!). Fussy about food, hates the seams on socks or tights - and so on aaaarggh!

I can just see all these little anxieties sort of 'hardening' into a general lack of confidence sad

howdoo Wed 17-Nov-10 21:55:45

My DS is 6. He is so much better than he was - when he was 3 he would get off the playground equipment if another child got on it. He used to be really scared of dogs, but has got much better. When he was 2, he was a bit scared of grass...
It's hard isn't it? One of the things the book says is to keep exposing them to stuff, but it's difficult to know how far to "push". Maybe you could watch something together on TV that you think is a bit out of her comfort range, and be ready to cuddle her if she gets scared?
The only other thing is the seams/itchy stuff - have you looked into Sensory Processing Disorder? I don't really know much about it, just that a friend's child had it.
FWIW, I think she's more likely to slowly grow out of it than to have it harden into general under-confidence - but I totally understand the fear!

LeninGrad Wed 17-Nov-10 21:56:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeninGrad Wed 17-Nov-10 21:58:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 17-Nov-10 22:00:53

Snap with DD, Leningrad thanks for that info about PDA seems to sum up DD completely, I have asked the Paediatrican for an assessment but she is reluctant, I think I will print that off and show it to her and also for DD's school.

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 17-Nov-10 22:02:19

Lenin is it worth persuing an assessment with GP via CAMHS?

LeninGrad Wed 17-Nov-10 22:05:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolarEyes Wed 17-Nov-10 22:11:06

Sounds like some sensory processing issues there: noise, food, clothing etc

I have heard good things about this book dp/0399523863

My DS1 had a sensory assessment by an Occupational Therapist, and it was really valuable, in terms of understanding what was going on with him and having a program to follow to help him with his issues. NHS waiting lists tend to be very long, may be worth seeing if you can get a private OT if you can afford it.

Day to day my DS1 gets himself in a right state about things, I tend to reassure him but change the subject to something else. e.g. I tell him I don't like driving (which I really don't) and then we talk about what would happen if I stopped driving and conclude with I find it hard but it gets us to where we want to go and try and spin that round to his issue (atm potential storms, the wind, wearing a coat etc).

thislittlesisterlola Thu 18-Nov-10 17:25:49

I dont know if this will help, to have another point of view/ insight into this but I am a highly sensitive adult- with sensory processing issues- mainly noise and clothes.

I got much better or should I say I dealt with it much better as I got older. I was
undiagnosed until I was an adult.

Over the years I have just learnt to deal with some things- mainly counting down until I could leave. Rewarding myself when I do things(main reward is to have a day at home if I've spent a day out) and just prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen.
I just accept the way I am and on the outside and tbh even people who know me wouldn't know.

I do sometimes alotofthetime feel I cant deal with things, I panic, become very paranoid. So by no means is this a success but I would personally say if you can, if its possible I would try to get your child all the help they could get. It could really help IMO but obviously I dont know your children etc but hopefully you understand.

I know my childhood would of been more relaxing/easier/ just less hard work for me if my parents did. Obviously I grew up 20 years ago so things were clearly different then.

Day to day I'm quite ok and things are good

<sorry, as you were>

thislittlesisterlola Thu 18-Nov-10 17:27:16

* Obviously my DP and my family know.

suiledonne Thu 18-Nov-10 17:41:13

My dd1 is like this - the clothes, noise etc issues.

I used to get so annoyed and frustrated with her but it didn't help and a year ago I was at the end of my tether. I couldn't get her dressed (she has so many issues about clothes it was hard to find ANYTHING she would wear) and we hardly ever went anywhere as it took so long to get out of the house.

Once we were out of the house she was so nervous of traffic, alarms, dogs so many things that it was a nightmare.

Then I posted on here and was recommended the Highly Sensitive Child and it helped a lot.

From reading it I realised I have lots of quirks about clothes and other things but because I don't have to have anyone's approval about what I wear etc. I didn't even realise that I had these issues.

I became much more understanding of dd and instead of a battle I started looking at it from her point of view. She wasn't doing these things to be difficult and by constantly pushing her I (and DH) were making matters worse.

I thought carefully about what clothes she would wear and found a few things we could get by with. I started always putting her socks on inside out, found a hairbrush that didn't make that noise plastic brushes do. Lots of little things helped to make a big improvement.

When it got easier to leave the house she was more relaxed and less panicky. Trips became easier and we started to have fun.

She is 4.6 now and in pre-school. We still have issues with clothes but not as many.

I took her to the theatre to see a puppet show and even though she was nervous and it was loud she held her nerve. She covered her ears for the worst of the noise but was actually able to relax and enjoy a lot of the show. A year ago I didn't think such a thing would ever be possible.

At school she still finds the noise difficult but covers her ears when it is too much instead of getting really upset and crying to leave like she did before.

mamsnet Thu 18-Nov-10 18:09:29


Great to hear a success story!

Like you, I've also discovered that I'm highly sensitive (at the ripe old age of 35) and it has been a revelation both for my treatment of my DD and for myself..

Go easy on yourself!

howdoo Thu 18-Nov-10 20:16:49

Oh yes! Having bought the Highly Sensitive Child because of DS, I then got the Highly Sensitive Person for me! Apple doesn't fall far from the tree and all that.

Our children are lucky that we are at least trying to understand/make things easier - I grew up with a feeling that I was over sensitive and usually plain wrong.

strandedatseasonsgreetings Thu 18-Nov-10 20:26:47

I think dd1 (5) probably falls into the highly sensitive spectrum but she is getting better as she gets older. There have been challenges - she hates sand and the sea but once she was introduced to snorkelling she really enjoyed it (we live on a Caribbean island at the moment so the beach thing has been problematic!).

She hates loud noise but that is getting better. She used to hate my hairdrier, the hoover, the blender. NOw she can cope with these but still hates the cinema.

mamsnet Thu 18-Nov-10 20:32:49

If you googled all the HSP threads on here over the last year I swear I'd appear every time grin me and my tuppence worth!

I just wanted to add something else. We are all here talking about the problematic elements of being a highly sensitive child and naturally so, it can be bloody hard BUT let's all remind ourselves of the good side. A very good friend said to me a few years back,"You see beauty in everything, even just the trees in the park". My first reaction was "Well, yes, they are very beautiful", but it was only over time that I realised that not everybody sees that beauty or lives life's experiences as deeply as I do.. Now I know that this is because I am a Highly Sensitive Person.

I promise I'm not trying to be twee or patronising, but that really is how I feel about it now. smile

suiledonne Fri 19-Nov-10 09:52:14

Sorry to post and run yesterday. I hadn't actually finished the post but dd2 hit enter and then shutdown the computer!

I echo what mamsnet said about trying to see the positive side. My dd is very senstive to other peoples feelings and a gentle, imaginative child which I love.

howdoo I was always told to toughen up as a child too. There are lots of toughies out there - the world needs more like us I think.

One method that I use with dd is to re-inforce the idea that she can be brave. When we are in a situation she is uncomfortable with I help her remember times she was scared but managed to be brave. Focusing on the positive and her ability rather than inability really helps her.

For example she is really afraid of the crows in the park. I have to admit I got angry with her about it in the past but then tried the other method. So when she was really getting upset I said 'Remember the day there were 2 crows in our garden. They were big and loud but you ran out and scared them so the little birds could have some food. That was really brave wasn't it? And now when she is scared she remembers that she was brave one day and helped the little birds and it makes her braver.

I do it with other things too and I have tried to stop saying negative things in her hearing like 'she's very shy' or 'dd doesn't like loud noise'as these things seem to be self-fulfilling in that if she hears it then she will believe it.

HTH. Sorry for the long rambling post. Just trying to describe what has helped us.

suiledonne Fri 19-Nov-10 09:58:29

Also meant to say peggotty you are not a shit parent. You have recognised things you are not happy with and can work on them but you are also very tuned in to your daughter and can see she needs help.

If you feel she is really struggling you should definitely seek some professional help. I'm not in the UK so not sure where you should go but maybe start with your GP.

Just focus on thinking she is not doing this to be naughty or annoying. It makes her life just as difficult as it makes yours.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

We are not there just yet but getting there, one day at a time.

Best of luck

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