The Highly Sensitive Person

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Back to Comfort ZoneFebruary 2012: Comfort Zone ONLINE
Dear Highly Sensitive Parents
(and Grandparents): A Request for Help

There is no doubt that parenting when you are highly sensitive is different--more attunement, more joys, more worries, more awareness that time is fleeting and they grow up so fast. And of course there is a lot of overstimulation from the child or children as well as from parents and school activities, which are mostly with non-sensitive people. Research shows that sensitive parents can be the best parents when not under too much stress, and not so good at all when under too much stress.

Hence it is important to help each other with what we have learned while raising children (and grandchildren) to see that we are the most excellent parents we can be. We can learn from each other how to deal with the stresses of parenting and to recognize and celebrate the pleasures.

The Request

Many people have asked me for a book about HSPs and parenting. I am finally being nudged in the direction of writing one. Perhaps in the end, the information will appear in a blog or website instead, if that seems like less work. I am not promising to do any of this, as I have many projects, especially research, to which I want to give my attention. I am thinking about this very seriously, however.

Whatever I do, I will need your help. The book will need a foundation in scientific research, of course, but most important will be your stories and experiences. There are so many issues parents will want discussed. My own thoughts on the subject from having one child and knowing a few HS parents will hardly suffice. Even interviewing 30 to 40 people might not capture all of the crucial possible issues.

Therefore, I would like those of you who feel moved to do so to write something, 100-500 words, about your experiences in one of the categories I have listed below. This will also give me a sense of which topics are most important to you, so you do not have to write much. You can write on more than one topic, also. Feel very free to make it a story with some drama or to write dialogue, but it's not necessary.

You can also treat this more as a survey, by making notes about each of the categories below. It would help just to know how many of you think you or others would benefit from such a book.

If you write more, generally you should describe a problem you encountered as a parent because of being highly sensitive, and if you found a solution, what that was.

Please, highly sensitive fathers, write too!

Put at the top of your contribution what the subject is (from the list below or whatever you decide) and email it to us if possible, preferably as an attachment. PLEASE EMAIL CONTRIBUTIONS TO

It is important that, at the same time, you print and mail the Contribution Release to:

Paula Dinnell
2439 - 28th
San Francisco, 94116

or Fax to 866-419-4624

(Please email your contribution, unless you don't have email.)

If you mail your contribution with the release (but I would prefer it by email), be sure to provide an email address if you have one in case we need to contact you about what you have written.

We will want to mask your identity, but the success of that is not guaranteed, so consider whether you want lots of people, including possibly people you know or your own family or children, someday reading what you write. Some of you will not care, so you can indicate your preference about that on the release. PLEASE MAIL THE RELEASE because it must be signed.

Here's the list. Again, please mostly write about one topic at a time, like those within the parentheses, not so much your general experience of pregnancy, infancy, etc. Although that could be okay too. But always, always about how your sensitivity affects that issue or experience, not your child's sensitivity (another topic).

  • Decision to have a child (for example, how your sensitivity affected the process, making this as specific as you can; hesitations about having one or about having additional children, or an especially deep desire to have children that seems related to your sensitivity; any conflict with your partner about it; fertility problems; how you felt if you became pregnant without planning; and even abortions if that applies to you).
  • Pregnancy (how you think your sensitivity affected things like fears and expectations; relations with your spouse, including sex; preparations or failing to prepare; and moms: how you think it affected your reaction to morning sickness; good feelings during this time).
  • Childbirth (from the perspective of both mother and father; how you think your sensitivity affected the childbirth, in good or not so good ways; it is okay to be explicit about things that came up, such pain, difficulties with medical personnel understanding your sensitivity, and after care). Please discuss any post-partum depression you or your partner had and how you got through it and any especially good experiences.
  • Handling Infancy given your sensitivity (including sleep issues, conflict with spouse, nursing or not nursing, special good feelings)
  • Handling your toddler, one to two years, given your sensitivity (including issues listed above and below)
  • Handling two-year-old issues, in light of your sensitivity (including preschool, control issues and "no," tantrums, toilet training, child learning to speak, childcare issues, and of course anything especially positive)
  • Preschool and kindergarten, given your sensitivity (three, four, five; how you dealt with discipline, other parents, child care, etc.)
  • School years (again, given your sensitivity, how it helped or hindered your providing discipline, dealing with other parents, plus homework, bullying, "play dates," and whatever else you can think of that you think was affected by your being an HSP)
  • Marital and family issues (for example, how you as an HSP handled sibling rivalry; in-laws and parenting; marital conflicts because you were unable to meet the other parent's expectations about handling the stress of parenthood)
  • Coping with temperament differences (between you and your child; you and your spouse; you and other parents; you and your child's playmates, but again, this is not about raising a highly sensitive child)
  • Tweens (10 to 12)--how did your being highly sensitive affect your parenting at this stage in your child's development (for example, how did your sensitivity affect how you handled a daughter wanting to dress like an adult; use of social networking; use of computers, internet, and games; choice of friends, etc.)?
  • Adolescence--dealing with this stage as a highly sensitive parent (conflict with your teenagers, worry about them, letting them go, choosing and sending them off to college)
  • Young adults--dealing with this stage as a highly sensitive parent (communication, when they still live at home, concern about their choice of careers, progress towards earning money, romantic partners, etc.)
  • Adult Child and/or Grandparenthood (how your sensitivity affected dealing with your child's wedding, relationships with son-in-law or daughter-in-law and their parents, energy for grandchildren, special experiences with them because of your sensitivity, etc.)
  • Childcare--(For example, how your sensitivity affected how you chose people or places, problems you had and solutions you found, helping your child adapt, yourself adapt, etc.)
  • Working while parenting--(For example, stress, multi-tasking, scheduling, mornings, evenings. Was it hard to be separated or actually helpful to have the break? Solutions you found, such as working from home and how that worked out, all in the light of your sensitivity)
  • Downtime--we HSPs all need it, how did you get it? How did you learn you had to do it? How were your kids with it?

Here are some additional topics, organized by "DOES" (my recent idea of breaking down the trait into four aspects):

  • How your depth of processing everything due to your sensitivity has affected your parenting (for example, thinking about or learning more about each step of development than other parents seem to, being able to answer difficult questions well, raising especially moral or responsible children, etc.)
  • How your tendency to become easily overaroused/overstimulated has affected your parenting and/or how you have dealt with that (for example, the noise of little children, how this affected how many children you had, getting sleep in a noisy house, vacations, etc.)
  • How your strong positive and negative emotional reactivity has affected your parenting (for example, special pleasures; trouble with anger, worry, sadness at loss, etc.)
  • How your awareness of subtle sensory information has affected your parenting (for example, your ability to be attuned to your infant or toddler, sense of what's up with an older child, etc.)

Remember, you can also just comment on the idea of the book. A quick email. If you do more, you do not have to write about everything on the list! Just one or two, more only if you want.

We may not use all or any of your actual writing itself, just your experiences, so you do not need to make it fancy. Just dash off something if you are busy. It can be about something now or in your past, even long-past experience. These contributions of wisdom may be especially useful.

Think of your contribution as aimed at other highly sensitive parents, not us. I imagine it will usually be a problem and how you solved it, in light of how your sensitivity caused it, affected it, or helped you find the solution--or all three. Or just write about a joy or experience of parenting as a highly sensitive person.

I do not have a deadline in mind. Perhaps by the next newsletter, May 15.

Again, please email your contributions to

You can also email comments on the value you see in this project (i.e., would you or others probably buy such a book or not).

IF YOU WRITE A CONTRIBUTION, please print out and fax or send by postal mail--to the fax number or address above--only the fancy release form. Publishers will require this if we use anything you provide us.

Let's see where we all go with this.



February 2012 Articles:

A Letter from Elaine
Coping Corner: HSPs and Pain
HSPs and Parenting: Dear Highly Sensitive Parents (and Grandparents): A Request
Our Spiritual Life: Martin Buber's Great Gift to Us


More Comfort Zone Email Newsletters

February 2012 Articles:

A Letter from Elaine

Coping Corner: HSPs and Pain

HSPs and Parenting: Dear Highly Sensitive Parents (and Grandparents): A Request for Help

Our Spiritual Life: Martin Buber's Great Gift to Us



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