Tina is a bilingual writer of unconventional fiction, a media graduate with a special focus on human sexuality and a content writer.
High sensitivity is a relatively new concept, but there have been highly sensitive people for a long time.
It is neither a disease nor a condition without innate temperament traits, part of the personality we are born with; the rest we develop ourselves by processing our experiences.
The processing is very different for highly sensitive people. Highly sensitive people dive deep. Immediately.
"Toughen up! Don't be so sensitive! What's wrong with you?"
These are everyday words that hit like nails of the soul of highly sensitive children.
The school should be for everyone, but it is not. Highly sensitive children are still problem children.
Who are these highly sensitive children?
Thanks to Elaine Aron's research, we know about this unique temperament.
Children who cry while reading a book, watching a movie or cuddling with an animal. Children who feel the pain, sorrow or misfortune of strangers. Children who eat voraciously and a lot or slowly and a little because it is so enjoyable. Children who love to learn. Children who ask in-depth questions that irritate teachers and classmates. Children who examine and question everything, most of all themselves. Children who love to debate, twist and turn theories. Children who fall in love deeply and intensely and are experts in describing their feelings. Children who feel responsible and react exceptionally strongly to injustice and hypocrisy. Children who love to fantasise and beautify reality. Children with parasomnia. Children who are perfectionists. Children who dare to speak up and back to adults. Children who find it easier to talk to adults.
Highly sensitive children. Children school tramples on because they don't fit in.
High sensitivity is hereditary
According to the Swedish Association for the Highly Sensitive, high sensitivity is hereditary. It involves sensitivity to the environment and stimuli and greater information processing for the brain. A highly sensitive person takes in more impressions, and there is a greater risk for highly sensitive people to get mental problems and stress disorders. The school can be a big problem for the highly sensitive, and support measures are necessary, but there is still no developed support program for the highly sensitive.
About 20% of the global population is highly sensitive
Helene was "diagnosed" at the same time as her son, Viktor. Helene is active, emotional, intense, driven and loud, while Viktor is calm, more introverted, anxious and cautious. Both are super empathetic and have easy to cry, laugh and get angry. Neither of them can pretend to fit in. The balancing act in life has sometimes been stumbling difficult for both. For Viktor, it is a daily struggle because he also deals with anxiety and worry.
Helene learned to adapt, almost chameleon-like. She gained strength in her differentness and dared to continue living.
In the '70s, there was no knowledge of high sensitivity, neither at home nor at school.
"But at school, it got worse. At home, you could be yourself, but at school, you had to fit in, and that's still the case today. There are many misunderstood children even today in Swedish schools."
Viktor has been a victim of bullying for his emotionality and empathy, and teachers have told him not to be so sensitive, to become more like the other children, to fit in.
For the highly sensitive, a school is a place where they learn what they can't become. The school is also an institution where highly sensitive people realise that they do not fit in. And school doesn't teach children how to be comfortable with being different.
In Sweden, people pay tribute to teachers who tell highly sensitive people not to be so sensitive, not to analyse everything and to toughen up to fit in. Parents who try to help their children be different are punished. They love their intense children while teachers tell them to stop being loud, stop being so intense, unwind, turn off, and eventually, all those words will become two words. Don't be. The suicide rate of highly sensitive people is higher than average. Feeling profoundly and intensely is both a gift and a curse.
In Sweden, schooling is compulsory; home education is banned
"Children have the right to go to school", and authorities force highly sensitive children into an unhealthy environment. Most people believe that compulsory schooling is equal and suitable for all children.
In Sweden, you can't learn at home. From age one, children must be educated at school. The duty of schooling ends at the age of 16. The school is a fairly new invention, 150 years or so, but no concrete in-depth research has been done on how the school affects children, especially highly sensitive children.
We forget that children are not a homogenous group. Everyone must go to school. But at what price. Bullying? Intolerable exclusion? Suicide?
We are taught to believe that the real heroes are the ones who take care of our children during the day, not the parents who try to take a different path through life thanks to their highly sensitive children. They are forced to comply. Otherwise, they are punished.
Self-didactics are suspicious in Sweden
Everyone must go the same way through the beginning of life in Sweden.
Unschooled is an insult in Sweden, while it is synonymous with following one's own interests and passion in English.
Of course, unschooling is not for everyone. There are children who both thrive and excel in school. But not all children. Highly sensitive children are the children who suffer the most.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Tina Brescanu