Do you think you may have a highly sensitive teen? When children are sensitive, we may see it as a developmental stage. However, as they grow, parents may realize their teenager is more sensitive to inner and external stimuli (e.g., light, noise, pain). They may be more easily stimulated and may need more time when it comes to making decisions. They may be more reactive when statements are made or more sensitive to body language and facial expressions. They may be more attuned and sensitive to other people’s moods. Teenagers are generally expected to take on more responsibilities at school, at home, and maybe even at a job. Therefore, there may be more opportunities for reactions to these relationships in various settings. If you have noticed these patterns with your teenager, then your teenager is part of the 15 to 20 percent of the population that identifies as a “highly sensitive person.”
Why Recognizing Sensitivity Matters
When it comes to identifying someone as highly sensitive, you might think that it’s something they need to just ‘get over. But that’s not true either. Someone who is highly sensitive is actually experiencing intense emotions as a result of the things that are happening around them, and you may be surprised to know that the reactions they have outwardly are actually far less than what they’re actually feeling.
Diagnosing your child and understanding that they are a highly sensitive person is essential to helping them learn how to cope with the situations that occur around them. Especially since those situations can make them feel overstimulated, lost, confused, or any number of negative emotions.
Teens who are highly sensitive are more likely to experience low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and more. When they are told to stop being ‘too sensitive’ or that they are ‘overreacting,’ it can only reinforce these negative feelings and make the teen feel like there is something ‘wrong’ with them. But that’s not the case at all, and it’s one of the most important reasons to get your teen into therapy.
Your teen will be able to learn a variety of different coping skills that are designed to help them recognize when they are being triggered by a specific event or situation and then react in an appropriate manner. Sometimes this might mean an actual reaction. Other times this might mean walking away from the situation or taking some time to themselves.
With therapy, they’ll learn more about what works for them and what makes them feel more comfortable in the moment. Then, they can react in a healthy and productive way rather than letting their emotions get the best of them or avoiding situations simply because of their sensitivity.
Online Therapy for Your Sensitive Teen
Online therapy can be a great option for teens who are highly sensitive because it keeps them in an environment where they feel comfortable. When they’re more comfortable they are more likely to open up about their thoughts and feelings, which means that the therapist is able to get a better picture of what they’re experiencing and when.
Through therapy, your teen can learn more about their sensitivity and come to understand how it affects them and why. Not to mention they can learn more about what to do when the emotions they’re feeling starts getting too strong. That means learning a variety of different coping skills that will allow them to live their lives the way they want to, without feeling overwhelmed.
Strengths in Being a Highly Sensitive Teen
Highly sensitive teens that haven’t learned the coping skills associated with therapy are more susceptible to negative emotions. Once they’ve learned coping skills, however, and they understand how to interact in situations that are difficult for them as well as how to remove themselves from those situations when they become too much, they can actually experience the amazing benefits of high sensitivity.
Being a highly sensitive person means that they can be extremely empathetic and intuitive. They are often amazing and considerate friends because they recognize more of what their friends need and know how to provide it for them. They’re also more likely to stand up for others and to provide the support and encouragement that their friends and family need.
Like all personality traits, being a highly sensitive person has its pros and cons. Therapy can help your teenager learn about their strengths and provide the support for areas they want to improve. Therapy can also help your teenager figure out how to set up their environment and relationships so they’ll thrive. Once they’ve learned what it takes to help themselves and to feel comfortable in their own skin and their own lives, they’ll be much better able to enjoy themselves and their relationships with others.
Connect with an HSP Therapist
Finding the right therapist who approaches sessions with warmth and empathy towards a highly sensitive person may be tough to find. Our therapists, Connie Yang, AMFT & Kat Chan, AMFT have experience working with people who feel on a deeper level than most. Their ability to provide a safe and comfortable setting for your highly sensitive teenager to open up may be the key to helping them thrive.