The A,B,C of High Sensitivity & School Concerts
Applying the A,B,C of High Sensitivity to a school concert..
Christmas is a busy time for parents & children. What there's another carol service/nativity play/concert/performance to go to - didn't I just go to one? Busy with things that are supposed to be fun & festive.
I've just come back from a concert at my children's school. They were celebrating Christmas, but also showing the parents how one of the classes had got on with their music lessons that term. I was happy to attend & watched many of the children bravely get up & say a few words in front of the gathered parents & pupils.
Not so for one little child, who was meant to perform as one half of a duet. She was overcome with nerves & ended up unable to take part in the concert altogether. Her mother stood by & watched a performance that her daughter wasn't even in. And sadly, this wasn't the first time that had happened.
My heart went out to both the mother & daughter - I can so relate to performance anxiety, what Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) can't? Confronted with a sea of faces, all waiting expectantly for you to stand up & be visible, can set off all sorts of alarm bells for the HSP, let alone a Highly Sensitive Child (HSC). So what can be done? Is it enough to adopt a laissez-faire attitude & just see whether our HSCs feel up to it on the day (they probably won't). Forcing them to get up & perform would certainly be cruel & counter-productive.
Thinking about this dilemma as I walked back from the performance, it struck me that the A,B,C of High Sensitivity could help. First we need to Accept & Acknowledge that our HSC will be in a state of fight or flight when coming up to a performance. That's just the way their brains are wired, plus they have an extremely responsive nervous system which means they may even be picking up on the nerves of the children around them. Helping them understand that what they're feeling is normal for a HSP & that there's nothing wrong with it will be a start.
Teaching our children how to belly breathe their way through times of stress will be key, as will showing them Amy Cuddy's power poses - all children would benefit from learning these. Grounding exercises would be useful here too. Simply standing with your feet placed firmly on the ground & imagining tree roots coming out of the soles of our feet, going deep into the earth, helping us feel rooted & solid. If we make these exercises a game & practise them regularly with our HSCs, they'll be well equipped when faced with a situation that triggers them.
Setting Boundaries around the situation is the next step. As parents of HSCs, we need to work with the teachers so they understand how our child will be feeling & what they can do to help. After all, we want our HSCs to take part in the school performances. 15-20% of the class will be Highly Sensitive, so it won't only be our child that needs some extra reassurance. Breathing, grounding, positive affirmations will all help our HSCs prepare for the performance. We could even ask the children where they would be comfortable sitting or standing during the performance.. If they don't want to do a solo standing at the front, could they do it standing at the side, or even at the back? Unconventional, but at least they'd be more likely to take part & the more we do something, the easier it becomes the next time.
Finally, we can give our HSCs an extra dose of strength by suggesting they connect to something bigger - guardian angels, superheroes, God, whatever works for them - to give them support while they stand up in front of everyone.
The sooner we recognise that 1 in 5 of our children are Highly Sensitive & may just need to do things a little differently at times, the sooner we'll be able to give them the support they require to help them thrive. Building their confidence & validating their feelings at an early age is crucial. All it takes is a little A,B,C...
If you'd like to find out more about how the A, B, C model can help you or your child thrive as an HSP, I'd love to hear from you.
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