Having a compassionate child is (I think) an almost universal parenting desire. We hope that our kid is the one who comforts others, the caring one in the class. Though what happens when the balance tips slightly and your childs sensitivity means that they are often the ones who need comfort?
I can't quite remember the age at which we realised that one of our triplet girls was much more sensitive than her sisters, though we have always known that she was our softie. She is naturally caring, her instincts for looking after others and feeling concern are off the chart. Qualities that make my heart burst with pride. Yet it can be a struggle and it's one of my biggest challenges right now. She worries a lot and then she keeps worrying and despite my best efforts to help her stop it frustrates and upsets me that I can't.
I am one of the worlds fixers, I like to provide solutions, I crave having everything sorted out with no loose ends. I can't solve the difficulties that my daughter faces because of her sensitivities and that frustrates me. To my shame, it frustrates me to the point that I often fail to respond in the way that she needs me to. If I am completely honest, as someone who's fairly carefree, it's because I can't relate to it.
Fussing doesn't come naturally to me and I'm constantly having to be aware of checking and modifying the ways that I react to her feelings. A sensitive child does not need to see a parents frustration, the likelihood is that this will make them feel even worse. The trouble is, it's all well and good writing this as part of a nice and shiny, touchy feely blog, the real test is when you're having that same conversation for the 15th time that week, your late for school and your other kids are kicking off. As I'm finding, the real test is being aware of your reactions to their sensitivity and responding in a way that's useful to them.
Parenting my sensitive daughter has led me down a path of exploration. I've looked into sensitivity, shyness, introverted personalities, the list goes on but she's not just anyone of these things. She's a four year old girl who is wonderfully caring and soft. There are parts of her that I can find in every description. None of these things need any sort of parenting intervention, I guess I just needed to know more about them in order to support her more appropriately.
Perhaps even after all my research I have come to the conclusion that all she really needs is for me to step up during her tough times and show a bit more love and understanding. I can't (and shouldn't) make her toughen up and I am cross with myself for so often wishing that I could. I suppose that this is part of her growing into her own person and I have to recognise and respect this part of her.
Compassion, care and sensitivity are important qualities to have. They will stand my daughter in good stead as she grows though it may mean that she experiences more than her fair share of childhood struggles. It is up to us as parents to help them shape their own feelings about their sensitivity. Our reactions can either demonstrate that sensitivity is an advantage or that it's something to hide and be ashamed of. I know which way I'm trying to go.