I walked into a Target the other day and saw a huge section of school supplies. It brought back memories of being a child and going to the store with my mom to get all the things I needed for the new school year.
The process was always bittersweet, especially as I got older. On one hand it was fun getting school clothes, shoes, supplies, and a new backpack, (I’ve always LOVED shopping) but the thought of actually going to school… well, that was stressful!
For many years, I didn’t feel like I fit in with the other kids and being different caused me a lot of anxiety.
“Back to Normal” Might Be Stressful for Sensitive Kids
That got me thinking about how strange it must be for some kids to return to school after home schooling for the last year. I know some schools stayed open during at least some of the months we were social distancing, but there are plenty of kids who haven’t needed to navigate the classroom, school cliques, the lunchroom, or any of that for a year or more.
For a sensitive kid, I know that must have been a relief! And now, I can imagine how nervous they might feel at the prospect of things getting back to “normal.” If you’re a parent of a psychic, sensitive, or shy child, I hope my story will help you to help them.
Struggling to Fit In
When I was young, I could see dead people at night. My mom was a medium too, so she understood and was able to explain what was happening, but there were always issues at school. If I mentioned what was going on, the teachers wanted to send me straight to a psychiatrist, and of course, kids my age just didn’t get it. I learned to keep my gift to myself, but I was still me, still sensitive and a little different, and as I got to high school, things got difficult.
My family moved to Boston right about when I was ready to start high school. We moved there because my father was appointed to be the fire commissioner of the city of Boston. Naturally, since Dad was new to the area, he asked around the office and people he worked with recommended a school for his son. It was a very prestigious, and very expensive, prep school. My parents wanted what was best for me – but it could not have been a worse fit!
Finding My Tribe
I high school I was very sensitive, I wasn’t doing readings or anything like that, but I was still very different from the other kids. I guess I was an old soul, because I had a hard time relating to the things my classmates cared about. The prep school was torture! Everyone was athletic and obsessed with sports, and I couldn’t find any common ground.
I was bullied by the other kids and didn’t have any friends. Anxious and unhappy, I hung out in the library so I wouldn’t have the agony of eating lunch alone.
Eventually I got the courage to tell my parents how miserable I was. I’d done a good job of hiding how unhappy I was for three years, but as soon as I told them the truth, they let me switch to a regular public school.
The contrast between my senior year in public school and the previous three years at my fancy prep school was like night and day. There were parties and sports, but there were also plenty of other activities, and I quickly found a group of friends. That’s all any kid needs – friends they can be themselves with.
How Parents Can Help
That experience taught me something important. For three years I was beating myself up because I didn’t fit the mold. We teach kids to be accountable and encourage them to tough it out when the going gets rough. But for a sensitive or spiritually gifted child, that’s not always the best way.
If your child seems nervous at the thought of returning to the classroom, here are three things you can do:
- Encourage your child to share their feelings about going back to school with you. Ask them about their previous school experience and listen without judging or making suggestions. Your child is a unique individual, so don’t compare them to other children – just listen, and try to understand what they’re going through.
- Help them find like-minded kids. All kids are different, so don’t assume that your child is just like you were at that age, or that they will enjoy the same activities as their older siblings. Let them know they have options. There are art classes, dance classes, music classes, and a ton of sports. There are kids who do charity work or work with animals. If your child is participating in an activity they love, it’s natural that they’ll make friends and feel like they belong.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Let them know they can always come to you. Just knowing they don’t have to suffer through the day to please you will take a huge burden off a sensitive child.
I’m not a parenting expert, but I experienced first-hand how hard it can be not to fit in, and If I can be even a little bit of help to parents and children who are worried about school starting up, that will make me so happy!
A Silver Lining
To say that my high school years were difficult is an understatement, but I got through it. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the lessons I learned there. My parents and I grew closer after I realized they accepted me and were willing to listen and help. It just proves that there are blessings to be found in even the hardest situations.