If you don’t identify as empathic or highly sensitive, the phrase may sound vague to you.

Maybe even like it’s a catch all.

So what exactly is a highly sensitive child? Is it just another buzz phrase?

While I think there many qualities that could be considered that of a highly sensitive child, here are some that are very common.

Highly sensitive kids:

  • Are sensitive to noises, startled easily. Think of babies that tend to startle much more easily than others.
  • Cry easily. Sometimes they don’t even know why they are crying. It could be overwhelm, or picking up sadness or energy from others.
  • Complain about tags, scratchy clothes. Sensitive children just feel more.
  • Like correction better than discipline. These kids may react negatively to discipline, or clam up.
  • Are intuitive, often knowing things that doesn’t seem like they should.
  • Are intelligent for their age.
  • Have a high sense of smell/sensitive to scents.
  • Don’t do well with change. For example, it may take them longer than others to adjust to a new teacher.
  • Ask tons of questions. Very inquisitive, they may seem to want to know EVERYTHING!
  • Exhibit perfectionist qualities, often hard on themselves. They may want to get their work perfect, are a bit detail oriented and anal.
  • Notice distress and pain of others. Sensitive kids pick up on the energy of others, even if we don’t.
  • Often worry about things that are not age-appropriate, such as death.
  • Like quiet play, may be considered an introvert (however, extroverts can be highly sensitive too). I do think that some of the introverted ones need some quiet time to recharge.
  • Don’t like noisy places/seem to be sensitive to too much sound or too much stimulation.
  • Notice little changes in environment, such as things out of place. These are the kids that will notice immediately when you move something in their room.

Here’s the thing. These qualities can easily fit just about any child.

But it’s a matter of how kids seem to take in information and process it.

For example, sensitive kids may not listen, not cause they’re more defiant but because they are taking in tons more info than just the request you gave them.

Their nervous system seems to work on overdrive. When we hear a request, a highly sensitive child is hearing, feeling, smelling all at the same time.

Because of this, they can seem distracted, even defiant. But they don’t mean to be. They just have a hard time processing everything that’s coming at them.

They’re also more intelligent, creative, gifted, and just amazing.

Highly sensitive children are not that different than other kids. But they are different in certain ways. They feel more … deeper. They may need more explaining, more time to process things. They need acceptance and guidance through all the feelings they are feeling.