I was a sensitive child and I believe my children are similar. Not overly sensitive, just caring, and alert to their own and others feelings.

Being sensitive is seen as a weakness

If you have a sensitive child, you will be familiar with ‘awh, is she a bit sensitive’? You know they are not being complimentary. Being sensitive is seen as a weakness. You have to be strong, confident and less emotional to be successful.

By definition the term sensitive means ‘having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings’, so when did these traits of kindness and thoughtfulness become associated with negativity? When did being called sensitive become an insult?

Sensitivity is essential

In reality, the phrase ‘you are being sensitive’ is a compliment, but it took me a while to appreciate that. Possessing this skill is the reason I was successful in my career as a nurse. It was the skill required to become a good teaching assistant. I cannot imagine many of the people I know, who are not sensitive, doing the jobs I have done – they would fail pretty quickly!

sensitive children

So, it was never a fault after all. Anyone in the caring professions – teachers, nurses, doctors, psychologists to name a few – are usually sensitive people and I think we would all agree that these are pretty important roles in society. Sensitivity is essential.

Being sensitive IS being strong. It is another vital element to the makeup of humans and is very hard to learn if you do not possess it naturally.

Rethinking our approach to sensitive children

We seriously need to rethink our approach to sensitivity in children. We should be encouraging it. They are the carers of our future so why beat it out of them? We need to embrace it in exactly the same way as we do with confidence or toughness. Being sensitive is a strength which not many possess and which is vital to a smooth running society. So next time you or your children hear the words – ‘she/he’s a bit sensitive’, my advice would be to say thank you.

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BBC Radio 4 - Four Thought

Sensitive Souls. I was delighted to hear Hannah Jane Walker speaking about sensitivity. It is definitely worth a listen.