This is Part 2 of “Having a High Needs Child"
There will be days when you rock, nurse, walk, drive, wear and try every comforting technique known to man or woman to try and calm your toddler, but nothing seems to work. Don’t take this as a sign of failure. Keep experimenting with one tool after another. High need babies are so unpredictable, what worked yesterday may not work today. High needs children also seem to have extreme mood swings; They are keenly aware of what’s going on in their environment. They startle easily during the day and settle with difficultly at night. It would seem like being so high strung that they would require more sleep than a mellower child. Sadly, they don’t – they require less sleep. They often awaken at the slightest noise. If you already don’t have a ritual and slowing down period before bed, it’s very important that you develop one. Start a couple of hours before bedtime working toward slowing their mind and body down. Turn the lights down lower, give a soothing bath, read bedtime stories, spend time talking. Don’t do anything that will energize her. If she awakens at night, talk smoothly to her. Reassure her nicely, and with a soft voice that you are there. You’ll find she’ll go off to sleep much easier and with less fuss than she would if you are yelling at her. Try removing anything from her room that will stimulate her mind. Do not turn on the TV, or DVD, and remove any books from the bed. You may want to try and play soft music. This has been proven to ease a troubled child’s mind, or soothe a hyperactive child’s soul.
Being super- sensitive they usually develop into children “who care. " They develop empathy, and react in a big way to physical and emotional discomfort, theirs as well as others.
Most high need babies crave touch: skin on skin contact. They also crave motion. Holding is not enough. The holder must keep moving. It’s important for the parent to stay calm and relaxed. Most high needs children will also crave a lot of space, (when they’re not wanting to be held). It can seem like they go from one extreme to the other. They can crave this space during sleep or play. They will have an over- urgent need to stretch their legs and arms – and when they do so they don’t want to come into contact with anything, no matter the direction they decide to stretch. If they come into contact with something they don’t want in their ‘space, ’ they’ll scream. As soon as you figure out what’s bothering them and take care of it, they’ll stop screaming or crying, as if nothing ever happened. When playing they seem to need double the space required. They get mad if a child disturbs their sacred space. Don’t get me wrong, they can and often do play well with other children. You will usually find they are in the ‘leader’ position of play, even when playing with older children. They usually do not get intimidated by older kids who may pick on them, they may scream at first out of hurt feelings and anger, but will quickly start ‘fighting back, exerting their control.
High need babies/children are not good at self- soothing. Crying oneself off to sleep is not a good way to learn to relax. These babies do not really accept substitute care and are notoriously slow to warm up to strangers.
I know reading over this, things seem to be almost hopeless, but that’s not so. Many high need babies/children may go through all these symptoms one at a time at various degrees, and some will only go through a few at a time. Most will learn how to control their sensitivity as they get older, controlling the severity of which they become upset.
High need babies turn out to be wonderful children and adults, but the parent most bring them up with patience. Many high needs children are the leaders of our country, or have in-depth jobs. They are usually very intelligent, and most of all, they are usually ‘good people, ’ who have very caring and generous hearts.
Parents only need to learn that calm reassurance will go much further than yelling and screaming. This can be challenging, as parents are often on their last nerve. But they will find if they start reacting to their children calmly, and talking in a soothing voice, the urgent screams of the child will usually not last as long, and will actually start to disappear. When you’re upset, it upsets them more so than what they were. Being so empathetic, they act out emotions of others around them. Try to keep your child out of any nervous, loud, or violent situations. As you learn to work with your high need child, you will start to be able to enjoy the intelligent, creative and caring child that they truly are.
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