Show Notes: How to Help your Sensitive Child to Thrive

This is the second episode on understanding and raising a highly sensitive child (The first episode in the series is here). We get some great tips on helping our children to function socially in a society that values being tough, learn more about Equine Assisted Learning, and discuss mindfulness and counseling as a highly sensitive person.


For the foundations, check out the first episode on Highly Sensitive Children.

How can Highly Sensitive Children (HSC) thrive in societies that value being tough?

Common phrases in these societies might be “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, “You’re too sensitive”, and “I’ll give you something to cry about”.

  • Parent and child need to understand that highly sensitive people process the world differently.
  • It is appropriate for HSCs to hold back, and take time to process before they are required to respond and react.
    • Visit the new school before the first day.
    • Minimise the number of new experiences experienced at one time.

Rhesis monkeys have society and parenting styles very similar to humans.

  • Researchers allocated “uptight” (Highly Sensitive) infant monkeys to responsive or unresponsive parents.
  • “Uptight” infants with skilled, responsive parents thrived and became the leaders of the group.
  • “Uptight” infants with unresponsive parents they were the lowest functioning in their group. (1)

Should parents be helping HSCs to “harden up”?

  • HSCs have differential susceptibility. That means negative and positive experiences affect them more than non-HSCs.
  • Everything we do to help support HSCs to have positive experiences have great effect.
  • In contrast forcing scary/noisy/overstimulating experiences on HSCs can make things a lot worse.
  • Teaching, learning, and modelling self-care is really important. Avoiding hunger, getting good sleep, scheduling in time out etc.
  • With a childhood that honors sensitivity, HSCs can grow into really amazing adults.

Equine-assisted learning

  • Equine assisted Growth And Learning Association (EGALA) model.
  • Alane Freund met Elaine Aron, the original researcher on high sensitivity, through horse riding.
  • EGALA is ideal for HSPs because they tend to do well in nature and love animals.
  • Alane and Elaine developed workshops: “HSPs and Horses”. Alane became certified as therapist for HSPs in addition to Marriage and Family Therapist and EGALA training.
    • Workshops are comfortable, they encourage people to take breaks and snack throughout.

Alane Freund

  • Has been horse training and riding since childhood.
  • Her high empathy for others led naturally into counselling.
  • Has been a Marriage and Family Therapist for about 25 years.

Counselling as an HSP

  • Can be very confronting.
  • Alane found it helps to envisage a beautiful box inside her during client sessions. She opens the box to receive the client’s experience and thoroughly explore it during the session. Then when the session is finished, she closes the box.
  • When seeing clients with an HSP’s level of depth, we cannot accept the same level of case load.


  • Can help, but can also be problematic because HSCs are deep thinkers, they can get lost in their own thinking.
  • Focusing on nature can really help.



1. Suomi, S. J. (1991). Uptight and laid-back monkeys: individual differences in the response to social challenges.

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What is your experience of being a highly sensitive person, or having a highly sensitive child? Please leave your comments under the previous blog post.