“Too much of attachment is not a good thing, dear.”
My mother always keeps telling me this, and I would fail to understand why she does that. The first time it hit me was when my grandma fell sick. Slight fever, not much to worry, but I remember how I had kept calling her up to check. When my grandma was in her final moments, only I know what I went through. Too much attachment, indeed, wasn’t helping me.
Soon I understood that this ‘too much’ thing has a term: being highly intense.
So, how do you identify whether you have an intense child?
Intense children are:
- Sensitive: They know about people’s moods, and are sensitive towards sounds, lights, and smells. In short, they have heightened senses.
- Emotional: They feel almost everything, and their emotions are always on either end of the spectrum. Simply put, they are extreme when it comes to emotions.
- Perceptive: Intense children have very strong opinions and points of view. It’s difficult to help them see the other side of the coin.
- Perseverant: These children are very driven. They’re goal-oriented and principled.
Intense children are found to have more active right hemispheres in their brains and could have more sensitive nervous systems, making them react strongly to noises, bright lights, and even textures. If you feel that such children are rare, then here’s the deal: 15-20% of the entire population falls under this category, and 70% of them happen to be introverts.
If you have an intense child and you are unable to crack the code to raising them, here are some points that will make the process smoother. In fact, several of these children could also show signs of having ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
1. Identify Triggers
This is the key. It’s like a personalized manual. Intense children have intense reactions. Observe what kind of situation is triggering what kind of reaction and make a chart out of it. Now, check if the same situation triggers the same reaction. If yes, then that needs to be noted down, and if no, then make note of the new reaction and remember. This is important because intense children tend to be moody, and having a chart with actions and their reactions will equip you to handle their meltdowns better because you will be able to anticipate them.
2. Tone reactions down
As mentioned above, the way intense children react to situations is pretty extreme. Understanding the triggers is just one aspect, but helping your children react in a toned-down fashion is also critical. You should help children manage the intensity of their reactions because it’s difficult for you to control the triggers all the time. Their reactions get amplified when there are loud noises or bright lights around, so tone them down first. Next, when you speak to them, use a low voice so that they are not tempted to shout. Understand how their mind works and choose the best way.
3. Make perseverance fruitful
Perseverance is a great quality to have. Being driven to do what they want to do is nice, but when it’s way too intense, it becomes an issue. Intense children never give up. They keep trying till the time they nail it, but after a lot of unsuccessful attempts, they get frustrated. They do not like failure, which is why it’s essential for you to step in when you know that a certain line has been crossed. Sit with them and help them do what they are doing in a different way, so that they get there. But if you feel they should disengage from what they are doing, then be firm.
4. Help them adapt
Because intense children are sensitive, they might not respond even to the slightest change very well. To help them adjust better, giving them a heads-up about the change would be effective. Once they understand what change is going to hit them, they are most likely to respond in a better way. Help them understand what’s new, and what’s great about it. Also, including something familiar, or something they prefer works like a charm. For example, if you are changing their breakfast routine, first tell them that there would be a change and why, and while serving them their breakfast, include something that they like or eat every day.
5. Help them with rationality
They’re kids and intense ones at that, so obviously, this one would be trickier to pull off than the others. However, this can be achieved by helping them ask themselves whether reacting the way they reacted helped. If they say yes, ask them how, and if they say no, then ask them what reaction, according to them, would have been better. Help them laugh at situations that would have normally irritated them. This way, they’ll be able to rationalize.
6. Help them see the other side
When intense children react, there are normally other people who are at the receiving end of their reactions. Helping children see what effect it has on these people helps. For example, if your child gets angry with his or her sibling because they were humming loudly, show them how their anger made their sibling sad. This way, it’s easier for intense children, who are also sensitive, understand how others feel when they react the way they react.
7. Bring them out of their shells
Most times, intense children keep to themselves. Help them experience different kind of people, different situations and environments, so that they become attuned to changes and tone their reactions accordingly. Doing so will help them adapt better, and bring their intensity levels a notch lower, which is what will ultimately help them.
8. Try alternative treatments:
While most of the people you bump into would want to bombard you with advice, please understand that pumping your child with medicines without delving deep into the triggers will not help. Instead, do your research. One very effective way of helping children with disorders like ADHD is resorting to natural concoctions made from the ancient scriptures of homeopathy, proven to be extremely effective, without unnecessarily troubling the child. Now, if you can help your child with sweet sugar remedies, then why not!
While being very intelligent, very sensitive, and very driven are alright, the ‘very’ is what might bother you. Remember, as parents, you have got it in you to raise your child well, so just follow your instincts and incorporate the tips above, to have a smooth sail with your intense kids.