Working and Playing
It is often difficult to differentiate between the emotions a young child will experience. A difficult transition such as a new school will impact the highly sensitive child as they have a highly tuned sensory system with strong empathic abilities so will notice everything in the environment. This severe degree of change can be overwhelming for the child.
HS children often feel responsibility to care for other children and become sad if another child is sad. When they see a child behave badly or breaking boundaries they can get upset, confused and worry about them being in trouble or punished. Indeed, school is not a peaceful place. Even when they grow older, they will often benefit from sitting near the back of the class so they can focus and will avoid the front so to being in sight of the teacher who could ask them questions in front of the class. In particular, they may be criticised for “not putting their hand up in class”.
However, they will enjoy learning and routine. Especially ‘carpet or golden’ time when the teacher reads them a story.
An essential component of any school curriculum is sport, which is beneficial for the HS child, particularly outdoor activities. It is difficult for the child to find competitive situation enjoyable as it involves high emotions such as tension and anticipation, which can lead to stress. For the HS child the desire to win is secondary to the need to endure or cope with the competitive situation. In sports, the child may go to great lengths in order not to participate.
Issues they have are usually in two areas:
Changing clothes: Noise, smells, lack of space and feeling self-conscious.
Competitive team sports or physical group activity: They feel huge pressure not to let the team down and may not like be watched by a loud chanting crowd.
Due to their deep processing and imagination, they can derive great pleasure from music, various arts form and nature. When the HS child is encouraged to participate in the flow of the changing seasons, becoming involved in growing plants (even on a small scale) the child can find it soothing and calming.
Working with coloured shapes, tones and textures can feed the child’s need to express creativity whilst keeping sensory input contained. Drawing and writing can facilitate the child’s need to express feelings; they may also find rhythm of using a pencil soothing.
Generally, the child will not respond well to apps or computer games becoming restless and stressed with the noise and visual stimulation. High-pitched noise, flashing lights can cause headaches, tiredness and dizziness. Building Lego or creative games such, as cutting and pasting tend to be more calming. However, they are more drawn to playing either alone or with one other partner rather than a group.
Often the HS child becomes stressed under supervision or scrutiny. Under these circumstances they find it difficult to ‘perform’ or ‘do a good job’. Therefore, the prospect of taking part in public speaking, dramas or school assemblies can create high-level anxiety. As participation in some of these events are sometimes mandatory in schools, the child may feel continually overwhelmed and isolated from friends who find these experiences exciting or pleasurable. This may lead them to believe they are weaker, different or odd in comparison to their peers. Even if the child is a talented actor, singer or sportsperson, the pressure may overwhelm their ability.