“My teeth are really hurting me, Miss,” cried a young student in my primary school classroom recently. He was deeply distressed and the tears were flowing freely as he held his jaw to soothe the pain.
Towards the end of a very lengthy spelling test, he had asked if he could go and sharpen his pencil. I’d indicated we only had 5 words to go so it wasn’t necessary – I’d be able to read the last 5 words even so.
Shortly afterwards came the very genuine river of tears as he explained to me how when he writes with a blunt pencil, the unpleasant sensation moves up his arm and into his teeth, making them feel very sore and painful. We agreed that he should never again use a blunt pencil and would keep a spare sharpened one handy for situations like these.
The incident had me reflecting on childhood sensitivities of my own and those I have observed as teacher, and then questioning why we fail to consider the sensitivity of our children in our schools and homes.
I clearly recall the dread I felt from the age of 6 onwards whenever we were asked in school to write something in our Rough Books. These books had a strange smell and the pages were coarse and scratchy; no matter how good your writing was, it was very difficult to write on those pages and the work never felt or looked ok. As a child, I had assumed that the term Rough Book referred to their unpleasant texture and odour and wondered why we were subjected to them when we had other perfectly normal books on hand. Many years later, I realised that to adults, rough meant first copy or first draft. The child’s reading of the situation was equally valid – they were definitely rough!
Then there was the school toilet paper – coarse and grainy on one side so not at all user friendly; shiny and non-absorbent on the other side so not practical either. I learned ‘not to go’ at school. Today, toilet paper in schools is still not of the quality routinely used in most homes.
Along with many school peers, I used to gag at the warm milk provided for our break and tried to claim I couldn’t drink it like the 2 kids on orange juice. How I envied them but I was overruled by adult authority. Are the same feelings overridden today by adding sugary flavours to milk, I wonder?
I’ve observed children who are sensitive to the fluorescent lights typically used in many classrooms: they get headaches and eye strain. Some kids find the hard plastic chairs uncomfortable to sit on. In our room they are allowed to bring in cushions but this is seen as irregular or as a nuisance by some colleagues.
I’ve met kids who are noise sensitive: loud music and large groups of excited people mean they need to wear ear muffs to block out the sound. Some find clothing labels unbearable and either scratch constantly or have to have them cut off from t-shirts and other items of clothing. Other kids become anxious at the prospect of sport or intense physical exercise and almost all kids become extremely loud and boisterous when they have soft drink on special days, indicating that their young bodies are very sensitive to sugar.
Children are sensitive to being excluded from games, activities and events, to being called names, picked on, teased and bullied.
The majority of kids I have known react negatively to most academic competitive situations like classroom tests and especially national testing. They become anxious, withdrawn, nervous, teary, atypically loud. The results of those affected in this way rarely reflect their true ability – ability seen very clearly in the openly friendly environment of a child with their teacher and peers.
Our children are acutely sensitive on a physical level and in sensing the ambient energy of the situations they meet daily. Their bodies have yet to learn to override the signals that arise from their delicate and tender physicality and their often natural tendency to self-care and nurture.
It seems to me that we need to ask ourselves why we would want them to override the messages of their own body.
The other boys in my class were initially astonished that the tearful chap received an understanding ear from the teacher and an action plan to make sure he didn’t have to compromise his physical comfort in the future. This opened the door for a class discussion on whether or not it’s ok for boys and girls to be open about their sensitivities. We decided that in our classroom, it is ok to do so.
What says the rest of humanity? Should we be teaching our children to ignore their body’s signals or even harden their bodies so that the impulses cannot be felt? Or do we need to look at and consider what it could mean for all of us to honour our bodies and our innate sensitivity from birth and on into our elder years?
For myself, it’s a no brainer and I question why we would opt for the ignore or harden option when we could be allowing the full and open expression of our gorgeous sensitivity, a sensitivity that sustains our connection with the loving beings we all are.
Listening to my Body
How do you know what is right for your body?
Returning to our body – The wonder, beauty and science of our body
175 thoughts on “Sore Teeth and Rough Books – Are we Ignoring our Children’s Innate Sensitivity?”
Absolutely it is important to allow, accept and honour our sensitivity and that of all children, ‘why we would opt for the ignore or harden option when we could be allowing the full and open expression of our gorgeous sensitivity, a sensitivity that sustains our connection with the loving beings we all are.’
Opening the door to our sensitivities is paramount on our journey to being reconnected to our Essences, Inner-most-hearts, Souls, or Esoteric as all are being Cardio centric as this is another term denoting our connection and thus we are re-leaning to feel what is happening to all our body and this is not just the physical outplay as our spirit denotes the opposite of being sensitive.
“Should we be teaching our children to ignore their body’s signals or even harden their bodies so that the impulses cannot be felt?”, to this I say absolutely not. Somewhere along the line, we all as children have lost that innate sensitivity as it has been shut down, because the adults around us knew no better or we had no choice.
When we honour that even the little people, babies and children are very sensitive beings and they need love and nurturing so their sensitivity can be respected, then they can truly feel more and make different decisions.
We have a responsibility for one another, to support and even pull each other up from time to time, this makes our life much different to how it is being lived now.
It’s a great reminder of our sensitivities as adults too, and I’m not sure why it’s such a ‘nuisance’ to allow children to be and for adults to actually respond to their sensitivities. Growing up myself and a sibling had such sensitivity to sound we wouldn’t be able to cope if there was loud noise, my body currently gets nauseous with artificial fragrances or strong smells, but I’m not so fussed by tastes, which many others are. It’s great to know these and respect them. Loved this line too “… we could be allowing the full and open expression of our gorgeous sensitivity, a sensitivity that sustains our connection with the loving beings we all are.”
My sensitivity has been to loud music and fragrances that were overpowering, too much to handle. And the effects, a bodily response that left me in a state that wasn’t necessary. And I feel certain fragrances should no longer be manufactured and yet people are still numb to its potency. So we are are sensitive or left numb and oblivious to what is happening around us.
My daughter when young was very sensitive to loud noises especially music. We discovered this when going to a Christmas party that included a disco, as soon as the music started to play my daughter ran from the room and made for the toilets. I followed her and she was in the toilet with her hands over her ears trying to muffle the noise. So I went out gathered up or things and we left. I feel it is very important to honour what a child or adult feels, because we tend to crush our delicateness and sensitivity which has a lasting effect.
Loud noise and artificial fragrances are some of my sensitivities, which I honour and respect to the best of ability in this world.
Coming back to my sensitivity has enriched my life to no end. To have one’s sensitivity intact throughout childhood and into our adult years would be amazing.
Absouletely Leigh, this is the game changer we all have been feeling all our lives.
Your blog took me back to my school days – the Rough books, the harsh toilet paper – tho’ we had that at home too in the fifties! To have a teacher such as yourself to ask ‘it seems to me that we need to ask ourselves why we would want them to override the messages of their own body’ gives me hope for the future of schooling.
“Our children are acutely sensitive on a physical level and in sensing the ambient energy of the situations they meet daily. ” We were all like this too and were then de-sensitised by the system. Surely in this day and age sensitivity should be honoured – like the canary in the coal mine that gives advance warning of danger?
I agree, it is important to honour our sensitivity, and those of others.
Reading this it shouts, or rather gentle tells, us how more love is needed to be brought into our schools globally … well everywhere really, care homes, hospitals, work places and it doesn’t take a lot or cost a lot just changing a few things that are oh so simple. I have never thought of lighting and noise in places until reading this and just how much it can affect our senses and well-being. And gosh yes the toilet paper I remember the ‘toilet’ paper shiny and useless what was that!
Absolutely more love and care is needed in much of our world, definitely in care homes, schools and hospitals to name but a few.
Children, classrooms, playgrounds – these are wonderful microcosms of our larger macrocosm of society and so we can make it a study and learn what our world has as issues and challenges because they are reflected to us in the dynamics that occur in school and home. Which means of course that if we work on the microcosm and ensure harmony is there, then it is far more likely to eventually show itself in the macrocosm too.
You can’t work on world peace or sensitivity and expression of politicians, if you have not cultivated that from the roots – in other words allow a man to be sensitive and expressive as a child and this will lead to an adult that holds the same qualities.
So true Henrietta. We cannot suddenly magically manufacture such qualities if they have been snuffed out at an early age. If we respected and honoured each other in our sensitivity and expression – in school and out – bullying too would disappear.
Absolutely Henrietta, which is why it starts with self, from the very beginning, ‘in other words allow a man to be sensitive and expressive as a child and this will lead to an adult that holds the same qualities.’