Highly sensitive 8yr old boy - FamilyEducation
Highly sensitive 8yr old boy
07/08/2008 at 09:43 AM

Can anybody please give me some ideas on how to help my very sensitive 8yr old son. I was sensitive as a child but told "not to be so silly". I am very aware of his feelings and his enormous need for approval. He is not a fussy child and vary rarely cries, unless he feels as though he has "let somebody down". It seems as though he spends all his time trying to seek approval and gives himself such a hard time. If he makes the smallest mistake he will hit himself on the head and say " I am so stupid!". Obviously this is not encouraged and my husband and I do not use the word stupid. If we try to praise him he cannot readily accept it. He continually critisies himself and his actions and as a mother I am now at my wits end. My hub and I did have some discussions with a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Worker which initially helped by putting some coping strategies in place for him with his anxieties, but he is approaching change of school. He internalises all his worries and has discussions far above his appropriate age. He struggles at school because I presume he is so busy worrying about everybody else that he cannot concentrate. This is just the tip of the iceberg! I just wish sometimes he could be the same as other "naughty boys" if that makes sense! ANY advice would be very gratefully received.


My suggestion wld be to consult a neurologist. Also continue w/ a psychologist if that was helping you and your son. It always helps to get feedback from an objective person. My son, too, has some difficulties, and we find that he often seeks approval for things. Sometimes he won't respond to us b/c he wants to be right and doesn't want to say or do the wrong thing. We encourage him also, but I understand how you feel. It can be very heartbreaking at times. You seem to be doing all the right things. Continue to give your son all the love and praise you can. Also, positive reinforcement can go a long way. Another thing we learned is to tell our son it's ok if you don't know something or don't have all the answers. We don't always have all the answers either. Try to remain as positive as you can, and keep away from people that are negative or hurtful. Your son needs to feel that he is just as important as anyone else. Involve him in a lot of activities that will help increase his self esteem and that he is good at. Encourage him to overcome obsticles w/out giving up. Also teach him to talk about his feelings and not keep them bottled up inside. I think all these things will help him feel better about himself and will help a great deal in the long run. I wish you all the best w/ your son.

Thank you for your comments, they are very much appreciated.My son wasn't actually assessed by CAMHS, it was a case of my hub and I going for some sessions to give us ideas on how best to help him. I now think that maybe he should have been assessed, although he is so good at masking his emotions that very few people ( unless they are very close to him ) can actually see when he is worried or anxious. To strangers he "appears" to be a very confident boy which is what the problem is at school. I am just classed as "an over anxious mother"! I have sometimes thought about using a dictaphone and recording some of his conversations but I am not sure that by even doing that I would be taken seriously. It may well be that I am now "over anxious" but that is only because I see him suffering and internalising it on a daily basis. I always try to encourage him to express his feelings but generally he just says "it's my problem and I'll sort it"! How do I get myself and more importantly my son taken seriously? By the way, can I ask why you think a neurologist is appropriate? Thanks again.

Ok, you're talking to another worried mom who, too, goes above and beyond to seek answers to her son's challenges. You can't help being concerned, that's only natural. Don't let anyone ever make you feel like you're over-reacting to certain situations. I've been there, I know. I first suggested a neurologist b/c I assumed you had your son evaluated by the mental health professional you mentioned. However, now that I know you didn't have your son assessed, the MHP wld be a great starting person. See what that dr tells you. At that point, if you choose, go for a second opinion to a neurologist. I think both would be helpful. Since a neurologist deals w/ the brain, he may be able to assess your son's behaviors and give you a better idea of what is going on w/ him. The psyciatrist, on the other hand, can help your son to open up about his problems and teach him how to better handle them. I don't know what is going on w/ your son since I'm not a dr. However, as a mom, I do know it's been helpful getting different opinions and educating myself as much as I can about my son's challenges. And no, I don't think it makes you look like an "over-anxious mother" recording your son. I actually considered doing that for my son's speech therapist. Don't worry about what other people think. You're being a concerned parent b/c you care. That's more than I can say for some parents out there. Try not to worry too much. Right now, talk to the drs and get their opinions. Then put your energy into doing whatever you can to help your son. Please let us know how you make out, and don't hesitate to write back if you have any more questions or just need support.

Thank you so very much. I don't feel as though I am on my own with this anymore. I thought maybe it was me that had the problem!!! I shall contact the CAMHS practioner tomorrow and see if she will re open his file and get him properly assessed! All I want for him is to be able to cope with school and his peers, be confident in himself and more importantly understand that he has an opinion and the right to be heard! I have had problems this evening because he knows that tomorrow he won't have his regular teacher so we have made a card out that says "May I leave the room for 5 minutes because the class are too noisy". He is comfortable with this because it means he does not have to put his hand up and ask. It would be great to be able to put more coping strategies in place like this! Once again, thank you for your advice, it has allowed me to feel that I should not be browbeaten but to carry on fighting for him!!!

I'm glad I cld be of help. I wish you the best of luck with your son.

Deb660-2: I've just found this post and I feel like I'm looking into a mirror. I can absolutely relate to your concerns and your son's sensitivity. Please, if you get this, post how your son is doing now and what steps you've taken to help him. We are not sure what avenue to go down to help our son. Thank you