One of the most frequent questions I hear from people interested in my work is “do you work with children?”
I don’t – at the moment – but I do have some things to say about sensitive, intelligent kids. Actually, I have some things to say about you with regard to your sensitive, intelligent kids. Namely:
Get the foundations right!
Secure attachment is the foundation for an enormous range of physical, emotional and mental capabilities and experiences. Secure attachment builds through the the natural bonding instinct and process between humans. Usually it refers to the infant – nurturer bond, but it can also form between adults later on.
The security your child finds in you, when you’re a a reliable, available, and generally positive person that they can attach to – an attachment figure – gives them the foundation they need to venture confidently out into the rest of the world, and a safe haven to come back to when they need it. These are essential for building, for example, emotional processing skills, self-regulation, and their own sense of self-regard as they grow independent of you.
An insecurely attached child generally has lots of difficulties in different spheres, as a child, and as an adult. Insecure attachment is linked to higher incidence of unhappy relationships as an adult, anxiety, withdrawal, depression, addictions, vulnerability to stress, and more. It’s a mess.
Before I carry on, I’ll say this first: adults, who were insecurely attached as children, are almost certainly insecurely attached as adults. All is not lost – there are ways to recover and readjust to it. But know that life’s a heck of a great deal more straightforward if you start off securely attached: what you do as a parent/caregiver has long-reaching effects and can save – or cause – your child a lot of hassle further down the line.
Sensitive kids are more affected by poor quality relationships than non-highly sensitive kids. An insecurely attached child who is also sensitive/intelligent will be more affected by the poor attachment relationship than a non-highly sensitive/intelligent child, they’ll have more going on with regard to their sensitivity and/or intelligence, and they will therefore be more affected by the absence of a secure foundation on which to stand when processing the intensity and enormity of their highly sensitive/intelligent experience of themselves and the world.