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What High Sensitivity, an Introvert and/or Shyness May Look Like in a Young Child

My last post was on the simple definitions of being Highly Sensitive as well as Introvert and Shy. (Link Here) In it I shared with you examples of how each of those things look in my life. When looking at a young child though, it is not always easy to tell what is going on with them. Because of this I thought I would share with you examples of my daughter and how each of these traits manifest in her. Just a reminder though that while these traits overlap in some ways a person who has one trait may not have all three.

High Sensitivity – High Sensitivity means a child is more responsive to stimuli. Also highly sensitive children think and feel more deeply. When my Lil Bug was a baby she did not sleep well. In fact, we still struggle with this with her. But, as a baby, in order for her to sleep well she needed a completely dark room and a sound machine to drown out all sound. We needed to make her room the least stimulating as possible. When we were at church, she would sit and just watch everyone. I received comments from people how they had never seen a baby look so attentive. It’s not so much that she was listening to everything the speaker was saying, but she was taking in all the stimuli around her. Now that she is older, when we go to the zoo or another crowded place, she’s quiet again, taking everything in around her. 

Introvert – Introversion is about how we gain and lose energy. Recently with my 20 month old we were at a friend’s house, it was a new environment for her. Within an hour she was tired. It was still a few hours until her nap time, but she was irritable and rubbing her eyes. She was acting like she was ready for nap and she wanted to leave. When we got back to familiarity, she was back to her active and energetic self. In the case of my 3 yr. old, when she gets back from a social event such as her preschool, she is often very irritable and in need of some time to be by herself or to just cuddle with me.

Shyness – Shyness, when defined simply, is social anxiety. Lil Bug is now 3. She only has a few weeks left of Preschool and as far as I know she has only talked once. It makes her anxious to think about saying hi to the other 5 kids in her preschool class. She’ll talk in front of them, only if I am the one teaching that week. When this happens it is her whispering to me. In her Sunday school class she was asked to say a prayer. This is what I was told about the experience. Lil Bug agreed (probably by nodding) and stood up. There was silence and then everyone said, “Amen.” She was so proud of herself and we were proud of her. She was willing to try and stood up. How thankful I am for a teacher who understood her and didn’t force the issue when it wasn’t needed.

I hope that these experiences give you a little insight into what high sensitivity, being an introvert, or shyness may look like in your child. There are different levels of each of these and one child may experience them more or less deeply depending on the situation and the child itself. It is also possible that your child is just going through a phase but if your child is continually showing one of these traits then I hope that the examples that I have shared have been helpful. I will continue in future blog posts to talk about how each of these things affects my life and the lives of my daughters. I hope that you will continue in this journey with me. 

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