10 Warning Signs:
1. Withdrawal. A child who is picking up on family stress may simply shut down. Taken to the extreme, she may become depressed or show self-injuring behaviors because she thinks it's somehow "her fault."
2. Sudden burst of emotion. Known as "acting out," this kind of reaction may show up as sudden anger, and is a sign that the child is taking on too much pressure.
3. Psychosomaticizing. These are physical problems that can't be corroborated with a medical diagnosis, such as stomachaches, headaches, or migrating aches and pains.
4. Social hypervigilance. The child might begin to imagine he is seeing problems where none exist. It is self-protection mechanism, a way for him to prevent emotionally intense surprises.
5. Anxiety. High stress levels are a precursor to anxiety symptoms.
6. Clouded decision-making ability. This is when a child opts for decisions that please you instead of herself. She is trying to "fix" the situation by making you happy.
7. Distractibility. The child may have difficulty focusing because she is picking up on too many emotional and intuitive signals in the environment.
8. Spaciness. Highly sensitive children sometimes are referred to as having their heads in the clouds. In times of family stress, this is a way for such children to take a break from sensory input.
9. Depression. If your child reaches a state of feeling that there is nothing he can do to exert more control over the stressors that are affecting his family, he may isolate, feel depressed, and believe that he's somehow responsible.
10. Exhaustion. Your child may be trying so hard to "fix" things and understand what's going on that she simply shuts down from extreme fatigue.
About Catherine Crawford:
Catherine Crawford has a private practice in Mountain View, CA, and is author of The Highly Intuitive Child: A Guide to Understanding and Parenting Unusually Sensitive and Empathic Children (Hunter House, 2009).
You can find out more about her at www.lifepassage.com.