For ages, my husband said that our oldest was a highly sensitive child. It all blew right past me until recently when a friend said she read the book The Highly Sensitive Child.
As she talked, everything I had previously ignored my husband alluding to suddenly made sense.
Covering his hears with loud noise. Moods at one end of the spectrum or another. Learns better from gentle correction. At home, he often plays quietly. He wants to change clothing if it is wet or dirty in the slightest way. Feels things deeply. And the biggest eye opener for myself … doesn’t handle big changes well.
Any of these particular items can make for a moody day or few days.
When we moved last year, it didn’t occur to me to talk it up more than I did. Instead I discussed it, but tried to keep his bedroom as normal as possible until the last minute. (Subconsciously knowing that change would cause an issue.) I’ll have you know that for the first month in our apartment he sobbed that he wanted to “go home” multiple times a day. The first week of that held the most tears.
Most recently, he landed himself an infection on his cuticle (persistent nail biter). It got nasty pretty quick and he sobbed the entire first night of it. This from a child who prefers his own bed and has never slept with us. Granted, no one actually slept. The rest of the week contained random outbursts when he either remembered he had a boo-b00 or someone accidentally touched his finger.
From the outside world, people assume he is just moody and dramatic.
When what they don’t see is the sensitivity.
That pain that might have been minor for another child was devastating to this highly sensitive kid. The move across town that should have been easy was a pill to swallow on days when he was particularly tired.
Worse than his moodiness is other adults’ reaction to how we react to him.
We know how he will often react in a situation so we often react accordingly.
I’ll give you two examples:
More often than not if he needs correcting, I can gently ask him to not do something and I’ll hear back a “sorry Mommy.” Everyone is happy and he goes on his merry way.
The other situation is what happened to me at Easter. We were at a picnic, I was by myself with both children and he ran towards a pond to catch a ball. He wasn’t going to stop and I did everything I could to get to him in time. Since we were out in the open, his propensity for listening was at a low. I yelled “No, stop!” on my entire run to him, snatched his hand, walked him back to our picnic blanket and sternly told him he had to sit for not listening.
I was STERN, but I was also panicked. Not my best reaction and because of that, he wailed for 15 minutes. Not crying, loudly wailing.
The looks and comments from other adults didn’t help. If anyone spoke to him he just wailed more. In that moment I wanted to hide because in my fear I had set off my highly sensitive child.
So Mamas, if you have a Moody Judy, know that you are not alone.
Other mothers of these Moody Judy’s look at your with solidarity. We understand the struggle to reprimand without a meltdown, to simple get out of the door on an extra moody day. The need to downplay or explain away your child’s behavior is overwhelming. My advice to you and to myself … stop doing it. Stop explaining and start ignoring the comments and looks.
To the mamas with more easy going children, give us a break.
Your comments don’t make it easier or fix the situation. And to restate my most preached comment for all my years with my Moody Judy, “If Mama can’t fix it, then you sure can’t.” So just let us be, sometimes talking isn’t the answer and just letting the child work out their mood themselves is the only way.