Sore Teeth and Rough Books – Are we Ignoring our Children’s Innate Sensitivity?

“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.

By CBH, Teacher

Further Reading:
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


181 thoughts on “Sore Teeth and Rough Books – Are we Ignoring our Children’s Innate Sensitivity?

  1. I had learned to override my sensitivity and in the last 8 years have unlearnt to override it. However, I still do at times but now the pain of the override is crippling and makes it not worth it.

    1. Beautifully said Matilda – the more in tune we are with our sensitivity, the more we are likely to embrace it and honour it.

  2. This has been a beautiful and confronting read today, I can feel the ways I was also denied the expression of my sensitivity as a child, and the very strong and clear message that it was somehow wrong or weak. I can see the ways it’s hardened me now as an adult to not respect others sensitivities, and the judgement I experience too for being sensitive to sound. It’s a great point too the link you’re made between our sensitivity and our essence or true selves, that sensitivity “sustains our connection with the loving beings we all are.”

  3. Thank you CBH for a gorgeous blog reminding me to not be so task oriented but to also allow the time and space for the relationships with myself and others to be seen as equally important.

    1. To put sensitivity up there on the priority for attention list definitely changes the way I relate to myself and all those around me. This is life changing actually as I come to really appreciate the qualities of tenderness, delicacy and sensitivity and how they melt hardness, conflict, comparison and cruelty.

  4. We can over-ride so easily the sensitivity of kids, but likewise we often do the same with ourselves and other adults, allowing precedence and priority for the things that ‘need to be done’ over and above how the whole being is feeling or experiencing at that moment in time. This is a big lesson in observation so that it supports us to come back to what is truly important – what do we treasure most? The things we do or the beings that we are?

  5. What I observe at school everyday is the enormous sensitivity children live in and reflect us adults back. This is a very precious inspiration for us to remind our sensitivity (in most cases overridden). If we are not aware of how hurtful it was in our childhood to suppress it, the reaction to such vulnerability is very likely to happen now. Definitely having teachers and adults who are open to observe their hurts and embrace themselves to come back to their natural sensitivity, is the greatest support for children to honour it in themselves too and remain connected until their adulthood.

  6. This blog brought back so many memories of my childhood and school – the Rough books, the disgusting milk and many others most of which I never mentioned to an adult as I had learned by then they wouldn’t be acknowledged as worthy of attention. We can shut down really early on in life yet in the class I volunteer in the current teacher does all she can to witness an individual child’s sensitivity – and I appreciate her for it.

  7. Whatever our future steps let us ensure we honour our own innate sensitivity to the hilt and that of others too. We all have different things that we find too much that all need to respected.

  8. Although this article is about children, fast forward a few years and we see the impact this has on adults. We’re not yet in a space within humanity to recognise the great crime that is taking place when we shut down a person’s sensitivity, but as a counsellor I see the mental and physical health impacts that stem from this daily. All too often we feel something may not be okay within a situation, within our lives or within the world around us but instead of feeling it, understanding it and then moving forth from this place, we so quickly seek a solution to not feel it or deny that we are feeling it and end up creating an eroding havoc, subtle or unsubtle, that then becomes ‘normal’ in our lives – all because we’re fighting what we’re feeling. It’s only when it comes crashing down do we start to seek a different way. Honouring ourselves and our sensitivity offers a very different life, one where we are strong, unshakable and wise. Dishonouring them, reduces us into a cage where we circle around in misery, all the whilst the key sits on our back pocket to exit and embrace the richness of the full world around us. It’s a madness that we didn’t know this.

  9. Through not listening and honouring what children earnestly tell us we are feeding back into the understanding that what we experience ins’t all that bad, hence the need for justification and exaggeration which completes the dishonouring of oneself. So the dishonouring starts outside of us and then we internalise it, and become a fellow with the art of self-dishonouring.

  10. When we ignore our children’s sensitivity we get used to their hardening in reaction to life until such a time we feel this hardening of expression is who they are and who we are. This is then normalised and we continue the cycle.

    1. Sadly true Michelle. Even young children have become hardened, because their parents in their turn were hardened at a young age and as you say, the cycle continues…..And a society such as ours in the west is thus produced.

  11. We don’t need to bludgeon what we feel but accept and embrace what we sense. Even if the situation can’t be changed simply acknowledging it makes us feel at ease.

  12. Reading this article makes me realise that confirming, reigniting, honouring our sensitivity is what we are all working to; it is what makes sense of my days these days and is a foundation stone in my purpose in life. And it is two fold in that it is a work in progress for me and a developing practise in all my interactions with others. Because it is with our sensitivity that we realise that so much more that there is to life than our current human existence and it is with our sensitivity that we can start to feel the unfathomable depth of love.

    1. When we feel our sensitivity we get access to so much awareness. Giving ourselves the space to feel allows answers to questions to pop in that supports that evolution.

  13. What a different world we would have if our sensitivity was recognised as the foundation of true intelligence and consequently honoured and developed.

  14. Since reading this and being inspired by the sensitivity of this boy and the response he got from a loving teacher that you are, I’ve been more accepting of my own sensitivity. Sometimes it has felt like I’m battling with protecting myself from the demands of the world but I’m learning this is not it at all. I’m learning it’s about doing things but from honouring myself and others. So I may do extra work whilst being sensitive to what’s going on with me. Is there resentment or hurt? And feeling and addressing what’s there so I’m not then in need of a ‘reward’ like watching tonnes of TV or eating rubbish.

    1. Yes it has been very inspiring to read this to deepen my appreciation of my sensitivity as I used to believe it was a weakness rather than a strength.

      1. We are so often taught that sensitivity is a weakness, and even punished for it. Is this more so for men (young boys) I wonder? being called a cissy in a playground was death for a young male when I was growing up. These young ones then become hardened dads and so it passes on…..

  15. I remember as a child often having aches and pains that were dismissed by the adults around me. I wonder how I would have felt if they had been honoured and taken seriously and how that would have impacted on the later relationship I had with myself.

  16. Reading this was awakened that feeling of teeth on edge causing a shiver throughout my whole body, the scratchy chalk on the blackboard that would hurt inside, the having to be still when we wanted to get up and dance and the abrupt stopping of a game with the shrill sound of the bell. Boxing children to fit in stifles their imagination and desensitises them.

  17. When we feel our sensitivity, so many more doors open to understanding what is happening in the world because we can feel it. To find a teacher who is aware of this is a very memorable experience that stays with us all our lives.

  18. “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? ” Definitely a no-brainer. Bringing up children has resulted in the society we have now – acting tough and rough. Sensitivity should be honoured.

    1. The first moment we discover that it was the systems we have set up that hurt us we can then begin to see how we turned in on ourselves in the face of the lovelessness. All that depression, self loathing, self flagellation and then the cover up and pretending we do not feel a deep sadness at this gets exposed. We can then begin to heal those hurts that were felt. After this comes a deeper awareness that we have contributed to the lovelessness by not honouring our sensitivity and expressing the truth of what we felt. But I have only got there by someone honouring my sensitivity in my adulthood. Yes sensitive should and needs to be honoured.

  19. I thought of this blog yesterday at college. I don’t like wearing lanyards with my ID pass because when you walk it hits you in the stomach, not hard but it’s not enjoyable – why walk and with each step be hit? At work this isn’t a problem, I can get a clip on cord that attaches to clothing. At college the colour of the lanyard denotes if you’re a teacher, mature student or regular student so I put it in my pocket with the lanyard falling out so it’s seen that I’m not a threat.

    1. Honouring our sensitivity means looking at the small details and ensuring that every base is taken care of. A great example Karin of how we can do this.

  20. To this day, I remember the cousin that cared for myself and brother when we were five or six years old. She honoured who we were as children (rare in our cultural tradition) and was kind and sensitive herself. She respected our own sensitivities and we felt safe and held in her presence.

  21. Can it be that school is where the energy of supremacy starts to be allowed to flourish because some children shut down their sensitivity? It’ll be great when schools address this and allow children to be the sensitive beings they are wherever they are without ridicule.

    1. Because of the way the system is run it is quite scary how children so very quickly locate themselves on the scale of ability identifying this as who they are. Once they do this the shut down begins as the moment we look outside of ourselves for confirmation we are already lost.

  22. After reading this blog I’m noticing the ways in which I am sensitive, when I ignore this and when I nurture this. Sound and vibrations are big ones – but as I write this, I can see a far greater depth I could go to with this.

  23. Teachers and education are so important in our upbringing. To this date I remember the impact of some of my teachers, I had one support teacher who used to help me learn english when I first moved to the UK & her dedication to me was out of this world. I saw her every single day & we worked well, the days where there was tension in the class & I got to come out of it, the other days where I felt wobbly because of something that was going on at home our outside of school & I got to be in a room with a person who just cared for me. We didn’t have to talk about what was going on in other areas, we didn’t have to sit down and discuss my woes & worries. But just to have a safe space, where I felt held and cared for was enough. Teachers do so much & have an opportunity to have such a massive impact on our lives that at the time we probably don’t realise how precious our connection is, but as we grow and reflect we see and begin to value it.

  24. ‘…it was very difficult to write on those pages and the work never felt or looked ok. ‘ Conversely it feels wonderful when a pen flows, or the book’s pages are smooth and inviting to write on. Any time I ignore what doesn’t feel pleasant I end up feeling numb and not feeling what is in harmony.

  25. Memories from school days are often peppered with incidents where we felt less, we were ridiculed, or not a part of the ‘in’ group. There seemed to be a drive to get children to disconnect from their sensitivities and listening to their bodies, to harden us up to cope with the tough world. But without it, we shut down on our most precious sense which takes a lifetime sometimes to reconnect to. This change feels the start of an amazing step forwards.

  26. CBH the fact that you opened up a classroom discussion about whether or not it was ok to be open about our sensitivities was in itself validation for sensitivities. The discussion acknowledged the fact that we are all sensitive, which is something that we simply don’t discuss. And the fact that we don’t discuss something that is so crucial to our well being and indeed our beingness is one of the many steps that we take that leads to the ignoring and subsequent crushing of our innate sensitivity.

  27. My daughter loved to hang out with horses and started riding at a young age, the very first Christmas party that the riding school held we went along and everything was fine until the local band started to play. The music in the village hall was very loud and my daughter could not tolerate the noise this was how we discovered she was very sensitive to noise and so within a short space of time we found ourselves driving back home. No one else seemed to find the music to be too loud or if they did they tolerated it for the sake of being at the party with all their friends. We went home and had a quiet night and that was the first and last time we attended the Christmas party. We are much more sensitive to our environment than we realise, because in most cases we seem to override what we feel.

    1. I wonder how many times I have overridden my sensitivities to fit in? Sadly I am sure they have been too many to count. The problem when we do this is that each time chips a little away at our self worth until the only thing we have left is to please others for the recognition we so desperately crave being so empty in the erosion of what we feel to be true. Claiming something so simple as a party being too loud and honouring it without shame or feeling lesser or left out is the way we preserve that sense of self love and worth.

  28. To be a child and be in the presence of a teacher that responds lovingly to who they are and their sensitivity will remain with them for their lifetime.

    1. It is so natural for a child to be in their sensitivity that we do serious damage when we deny them this aspect of themselves. The norm needs to be what you describe Rachel and not the exception to the rule.

  29. The other day I overheard one of the class helpers chastising a six-year-old for making a mistake with his writing; it’s not that she was mean, but the tone said it all. After that, he gave up and didn’t want to continue. What was interesting is that the little boy was on my section and I could see what he was doing and knowing that he rarely wants to write anything I was happy for him to chose whatever line he wanted to write on. His work was fairly neat, and he’d worked really hard on this piece of copying and still came away feeling crushed. Education would be so different if we were taught to hold onto our sensitivity, not only for the sake of the children but for the adults also.

  30. Many children openly express their hurts, whilst we as adults have learned to suppress what we feel, believing it to be a sign of weakness, will expose us to ridicule or fearful it may be used against us. We often adopt this position because of the lack of true listeners (without judgement, and accepting) in our community. And yet we all have the potential to be true listeners: open, responsive and willing to support those we meet.

    1. Sensitivity in young ones is often crushed by adults as they have ignored and suppressed their own innate sensitivity for so long. Time to reclaim sensitivity……

  31. I was talking to my college tutor today about being dyslexic and how I’ve managed and changed in how I express and she said something that I’ve always felt: how much we are missing from our children because we are asking them to conform to a different tune than that they would otherwise naturally bring.

    1. Yep. Either ‘fitting into’ a box ourselves or asking others to do this. We loose out on so much when we do this.

  32. I’d love to see how our world would look if we all reverted back to our childhood qualities. If we could flick a switch and all become sensitive, playful, silly, inclusive, naturally connected to our bodies, energetic, loving, tactile, demonstrative, inquisitive and imaginative again. These qualities stand out in stark contrast to the rather washed out existence of so many of us when we reach our twenties and beyond.

  33. It is so interesting and I would propose, sad, how quickly we over-ride what we know as children and learn to cope and take that coping into adult life. Perhaps this is the down side of promoting the word ‘resilience’, when as adults, we then forget to value what we know to be true and follow the crowd.

  34. Even if we teach children to ignore and override their sensitivity and bury it under a mask of hardness it’s still there. We really need to consider why we are aghast at sensitivity in ourselves and others, and do away with the ideals of toughing it out, soldiering on, and seeing self care as a sign of weakness.

  35. How many of us were told we were just too sensitive and so it was our hard luck if we felt the pain of being squashed and trampled on by others that had lost their sensitivity. It seems to me we just don’t stop to consider how what we do effects the everything we do. It’s a ripple effect that spreads out and touches everyone whether they are conscious of the touch or not.
    We can observe this in a crowd of people how people will avoid those that are angry they can feel the anger and will seek out others who are not angry as they do not want to feel someone’s anger as it is disturbing to their sensitivity.

  36. Teaching children tenderness is teaching a whole generation to consider the tenderness of what lives within us all. It is much needed in times of increasing violence, rape, assault, battery, murder and wholesale global abuse.

    1. Well said, we need to share how to value ourselves and recognise what is OK and not OK in our own bodies, what is loving and not loving, and then let that set the standard in our lives.

  37. We can never lose our sensitivity, but when we are taught that it is like a hot stove and should not be touched. We remember the pain from the first time we are burned and never try again. When we are allowed to feel the pain and express what we are feeling nothing is hidden or repressed, and we all evolve.

  38. Today I sat with someone as they retold their story of being beaten and tortured. What amazes me about the person in question is that even though they have been through so much they are still incredibly sensitive. There is such a contrast between our sensitivity and the brutality that can exist in the world but that our sensitivity is never erased.

  39. When we pick up a new born baby, we do it so gently and carefully because we can feel how delicate and sensitive they are. We don’t lose this sensitivity, but we do disconnect from it as we live in the world. To be in a school where children to have their sensitivity honoured will really support them to hold onto their sensitivity and honour themselves in their lives.

    1. Yes, it will equip them with how to express, then sensitivity is a strength not a weakness. Being scared or afraid comes from not feeling like you can cope but if we don’t first honour what we are feeling we won’t be able to see what skills we don’t feel we have in order to deal with what is in front of us. Whenever I have teased an issue out in this way, I have always found I do have the skills I just didn’t value them and so put more weight on the feeling of inadequacy.

  40. Reading this blog felt like a real honouring and understanding of all the super sensitive traits I had as a kid (and most of which I still have now) that were used to either tease me or place me in an ‘over-sensitive kid’ category. I am at a point now though that appreciates so much how sensitive I have always been as a little boy and as a man, for without that sensitivity I would not be able to feel, read, and understand so many life situations and challenges that have enabled me to grow and evolve.

    1. There is a US magazine, called MAD; it is a kids humour magazine that has been around since 1952. There was an issue when I was young that had medals you cut out, and I still remember there was the “Chicken Award”. Growing up and in the schoolyard, the chant of chicken was used to gore and escalate most fights. On the bottom of the medal it said, for using discretion in the face of numbers. By saying yes, I am chicken, always defused the situation. Losing face and keeping my sensitivity was always better than losing teeth. How can you ever lose a battle if never surrender who we are?

  41. If all classrooms were like yours then there would not be nearly so many issues with lack of sensitivity and lack of vitality in later life as forcing children to override their innate sensitivity causes society so many subsequent problems that we all suffer the consequences of.

    1. Quite frankly if we didn’t force children out of their bodies and up into their heads then they wouldn’t lose their connection to God. Now we don’t need to call it ‘God’ because that understandably loses a lot of people. We could say ‘connection to themselves’ or ‘connection to life’ or ‘natural sensitivity’. But whatever we call it, basically the world would be a much more harmonious and balanced place.

  42. When will we not only realise but change the education system that is putting so much pressure unnecessarily on our younger generation and failing them. I feel this is when we really do need to be aware of energy and where such energy comes from that creates systems like these because it is very far away from love.

  43. I love to read that there are teachers out there who still support children to be themselves. In a world where this is so rare, where students and people in general are always encouraged to fit the mold, be beside themselves & simply comply. To have a solid teacher, who stands for truth & cares for their pupils is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing this.

  44. We don’t like to admit just how sensitive we all are, because if we did we would have to learn to interrelate with each other in a completely different way. We would have to do business differently, work differently and live differently… and that would mean huge change.

  45. Maybe if school children were open in their sensitivities as has been shared in this blog we would have a society that is much more loving and naturally sensitive as normal? Currently today many of us are getting lost and confused, which has become obvious with there being so much out of control behaviours happening world-wide!

    1. I totally agree with you Greg, even if maybe school children were taught to honour their sensitives within, how normal and empowering that really would be.

    2. Behaviours have indeed become totally out of control and over the top and they will continue to do so. Once we’ve lost our natural connection to the truth of who we are then we have lost our anchor and what we’ll end up doing, feeling and experiencing is literally anyone’s guess.

      1. Maybe when we understand the depth of greed and corruption that is rife within our society we will start asking for the necessary changes to return life to one of evolution ‘our natural connection’.

      2. Greg it would be wonderful if we did ‘ understand the depth of greed and corruption that is rife within our society’ but unfortunately that can’t happen on any kind of significant scale unless we are first prepared to take a good look at ourselves and the part that we play in all of this. We are a society that is dedicated to keeping our heads firmly buried in the sand and our view from there is very limited indeed!

  46. “Children are sensitive to being excluded from games, activities and events, to being called names, picked on, teased and bullied”. Exclusion to both kids and adults is an absolutely dreadful feeling. To feel that we are being purposefully left out of something cuts us to our very core, we are all so desperate to be included. Our natural way of being is to be inclusive, we are all actually energetically linked to one another, belonging and being a part of one another is our living way, which is why, in part, I feel that exclusion hurts us so much.

    1. Yes exclusion is deeply painful. The greatest hurt I’ve done to myself is excluding myself from life, from knowing my beautiful self, from others and from God; and from this separation at my own hands, being excluded by others hurts all the more.

      That said, coming to accept and love myself is all the more lovely as I’m including everyone in my life.

  47. “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 wonder if we do fail to consider the sensitivity of children or if in the briefest of moments we do consider their sensitivity and in that instance feel how far we have allowed ourselves to get from our own sensitivity and so in an attempt to not acknowledge this we automatically brush it aside. And all of this happens in the blink of an eye.

  48. Sensitivity in children is not only brushed aside but it’s also punished by some parents, teachers and people in authority who feel that kids (and especially boys) are being self-indulgent cry babies. There’s nothing like a quick clip round the ear or slap on the back of the head to make a kid toughen up pretty quick smart and think twice about saying anything that reflects their sensitivity again. It’s such a tragic and yet common scenario.

  49. On the London underground I’m always amazed at how people don’t seem to notice just how loud the screeching is – like it really hurts my ears and I’ll put my fingers in my ears -though there is the temptation to act like nothing is happening whilst being deafened. And apparently this is actually what’s happening as I was reading findings of dangerously high decibel levels. A great reflection because in other areas I do ignore my sensitivities in an attempt to fit in.

  50. I know it feels really sweet and respectful when I honour my body and that therefore as an adult I have a beautiful responsibility in all my interactions with children to honour them and their feelings and senses too.

  51. It is so obvious the way many schools operate at the moment that children have to toughen up in school and hide their sensitivity. They have to shrug things off, and turn down their feelings. But we are all sensitive whether we express it or not, it doesn’t go away because we are hiding it.

  52. Our delicacy and sensitivity are the true markers that guide our moral and ethical choices in life. When we harden our bodies to ignore the lack of care and sensitivity in our environment, we open the door to the most horrendous abuses and regard them as normal. I love how you have co-created an environment in your classroom that engenders this sensitivity and hence provides all the children within true education.

    1. True education that supports children to remain connected to their inner knowing and making choices that support them to remain true to themselves and feel what is needed for everyone.

  53. My sense is that we ignore the sensitivity of children and in ourselves. We think life is functional, when it is not – it’s always energy first.

  54. So beautiful to feel the sensitivity of you, CBH, in your tender and loving response to the sensitivity of the child. What a marker in one’s life to ‘seen’ and acknowledged at such a young age as that young boy.

  55. Honouring your sensitivity in some countries is considered a weakness and certainly not nurtured. The predominate way fosters hardness and ‘resilience.’ in order to make it in an economic environment where day to day life is about survival.

  56. “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.” I like it that you wrote about the sensitivity of children as I too had to harden myself at school and almost forgot it. So I can now appreciate my sensitivity and that it was not a failure to be a sensitive child.

  57. We ride rough shod over our children’s sensitivity because we have become so incredibly desensitised ourselves. We can only understand and relate to others through our own understanding of ourselves. If we are unable to feel something ourselves then we won’t consciously know of it’s existence in another, how can we?

  58. I have never understood why school chairs are so uncormfortable – we would not make adults sit in them all day in an office so why children? And as a Physiotherapist I wonder if we are setting up postural and back and neck issues later in life by not supporting children’s highly sensitive bodies more.

  59. How aware the small child was that connected the blunt pencil to the movement of his arm and the pain in his jaw and teeth – WOW how exposing. Time to reclaim all that sensitivity we have disconnected from and live the beautifully sensitive Beings we were born to be.

  60. I would love to be a student in your classroom, CBH. To have a teacher who recognises that children’s sensitivities are unique to them, very valid and worth supporting is worth it’s weight in gold.

  61. As elders the tide can turn once more. Some, who are deeply sensitive feel the slightest change in temperature, touch, taste, movement and speech and important that they express this at the time. Inspiring to be with elders who have not shut down this quality and openly express their sensitivities. Similar to teachers, our responsibility as carers is to create a safe place for all elders (and many are more held back) so they feel able to express their sensitivities.

    1. How wonderful Kehinde what you share. I notice as the people in my life get older they become more sensitive which is really lovely. Sometimes they need a bit of support, responded to with love and role modelling for example, to not give themselves a hard time for this and not do the ‘stiff upper lip’ thing.

  62. I love that you made it OK for girls and boys in your class to be open about their sensitivities.

    1. And this classroom will be a place of huge support, nurture and inspiration in these children’s lives. I have found that once we are touched by this quality and care we never forget it.

      1. Beautiful Matilda, and reminder that life is our classroom and we the teachers bringing this same quality of care and sensitivity to everyone we meet.

  63. To respond to the sensitivity of others with tenderness shows we ourselves have honoured our own sensitivity.

  64. ‘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.’ Amazing! I remember school where teachers were set up as gods and couldn’t be spoken to. I remember a few teachers I tried to avoid they were so angry and unpredictable! And one who was so jealous of me which made absolutely no sense in the normal way of the world.

  65. I really get how toughing up and numbing our sensitivities is deeply ingrained in the school education system as a kind of training, as if the ability to push through any discomfort and basically shut up and get on with things is a sign of growing up – whilst our sensitivity lets us know exactly what is happening and it forms a basis of our true strength to be understanding and observing of the world we live in.

    1. That’s true Fumiyo, we relegate sensitivity to early childhood and see it as something to grow out of.

  66. Reading this does bring back the memories of being sensitive and having to override the feelings, and being told to ‘just get on with it’.

  67. Brilliant blog, summing up in such precise detail the challenges of my school years; I can still feel my body reacting instantly to that ghastly warm milk! From observing how so many adults dismiss the sensitivity of children in a multitude of ways, it is easy to see how the feeling of not being honoured stays with them as they grow and as a result they stop honouring and respecting themselves and their innate sensitivities. No wonder that world is such a ‘hard’ place to live in when we have buried who we truly are.

      1. I totally agree Matilda and the wonderful thing is, is that we don’t actually lose those natural qualities but have simply buried them under all the beliefs and ideals that we took on as children. Making the choice to say yes to them once again is akin to saying yes to the life we are truly here to live.

  68. This is a great example how we can practically support our kids’ sensitivity and thus equally support and nurture our own rather than sacrifice it at the altar of functionality.

  69. Oh my goodness. I was so deeply touched reading what your young pupil shared: “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.” Such a depth of sensitivity, awareness and ability to express. We can learn so much, heal so much and deepen so much by allowing and honouring our young ones’ expression in the way so beautifully reflected in this bog.

  70. ‘and then questioning why we fail to consider the sensitivity of our children in our schools and homes.’ We are so focused on function that we totally fail to consider how our kids are feeling and what they are sensing. What you are sharing here communicates that their days are really devoid of loving nurturing care, which really should be our normal. It doesn’t make sense that we would not consider all of their needs.

    1. We are so focused on getting results and getting good league table scores in the UK that supporting children with their sensitivity comes well after that fact and sometimes, it gets missed altogether.

      1. Education has become a factory that is producing a product to a set standard. If the machine can’t make an item, meet the standard, is it not merely rejected from the process?

    2. Function, function, function both in school and out of school. We are so focused on what our kids achieve during their school day and then what they are able to achieve in their out of school activities. We like to say that they are doing things out of school ‘for fun’ but still there is this focus on function. We focus on what skills they’ve acquired, whether or not they were ‘recognised’ by their coach or instructor, did they get a badge or a certificate? When back at home the function continues, dinner, bath and bed. There seems to be no time for sensitivity because when sensitivity does come up then as stressed and tired parents it can be a bit of a nuisance because it requires time that we just don’t feel that we have. But allowing time for sensitivity actually creates space because it recognises the being and anything that recognises the being in us opens up space and when we’re in space there is no need for time management because there is no time, there’s just space, loads and loads of it.

      1. All of that constant pressure on the child and the parent. There was a time a child was punished by being sent to their room. Now that is where they escape into the world of multimedia. When was the last or the first time a child, was asked when coming home from school how they felt the day was, rather than how much homework they have to do? And, what do the parents do to escape their pressure of pushing the child to be the best?

      2. I remember that being sent to my room was no punishment at all. I’d love the peace and quiet and time to be by myself just to be – yes quite often there would be resentment but that was more to do with the fact that those who were sending me to my room had not connected to what was going on or how I had been feeling. The sending to the room was more about them and how they were feeling rather that the other way around.

  71. I visit our local primary school and I have noticed that when it comes to national tests it is the teachers who are tense as the results are an assessment of their teaching. This tension is picked up by the children and is the cause of a lot of stress.

  72. We are all born as rough diamonds, and we make the child loose parts of themselves to be something we think they should look like at the end of the polishing process that we call education. How insensitive is this process?

  73. Thank you for writing this blog teacher. I can recall so clearly how I use to feel about seating on hard benches/chairs and bringing a cushion wasn’t an option at the time (1977). The itchy, inconfortable « smart » grey trousers/jumpers made of wool. I remember crying because they were so uncomfortable to wear at the age of 7… I also remember how difficult it was to focus on my homework because I was loading myself with milk, sugar and bread(gluten) and there was nowbody to explain to me at the time how much and how this was affecting me and why I had cravings for this type of food! Still today, I can see that for a large majority of the population, for whatever reason this is, it is a no go land and people are still getting bullied for expressing their view around it ( how mad is this?)

  74. CBH through your connection to your own body and through your understanding of how children feel you have re-opened my connection to my childhood body as well as opened up a great topic for discussion. You have reminded me of how sensitive we all are as children and also reminded me of how over time that sensitivity gets eroded away, leaving a very desensitised body in it’s wake. A less sensitive body is more able to be manipulated and coerced into situations, behaviours and ways of being that don’t cherish or honour it. And as a result we have the confused, congested and insensitive world that we currently live in.

  75. My recollections of school days were of the teachers attempting to knock my sensitivity out of me with a blunt instrument. Sensitivity was something you needed to lose if you were going be a man and humiliation was often used to help us on our way. Why it was not appreciated that sensitivity is a strength and not a weakness I am not sure.

    1. This is absolutely shocking to read Doug and I don’t think much has changed when you see the hardened state of our men, who in many cases are living so far from who they truly are. Blogs like this are so essential to raise society’s awareness of the fact, that boy or girl, children are innately sensitive, something to be treasured and honoured, not to be ‘knocked’ out of them.

  76. Reading this has prompted me to support my sensitivity in the world more. One area has been at work, so sitting by the window because the UV light feels horrid. Another was ordering a keyboard that I enjoy typing on – work used to have keyboards your fingers needed great strength to use. The strain of typing went into my shoulders and caused stiffness. I carried this keyboard around with me changed the mouse too. Work is demanding and any support feels invaluable to help me give what’s needed.

    My next step is preventing the extreme pain of sitting at a low desk in supervision and typing on laptop. I’ll take in realms of paper to heighten the laptop.

  77. I would agree that it is so important that we honour our children’s natural sensitivity and awareness, even if it exposes areas where we may have chosen to shut down our own.

  78. We think we find corruption being exposed uncomfortable but in my experience – having someone honour their sensitivity can be just as ‘in your face’. It makes you question instantly why you have let all your own sensitivities slide. No wonder so many hardened adults dismiss children’s sensations so consistently.

  79. Your actions are truly honoring of the sensitivities of the children in your classroom. Your openness will encourage other children to be forthright and not hold back their expression and this is a great reflection of your true care and willingness to listen.

  80. The environment you describe sounds so harsh on these beautiful and tender children. Things need to change and I suspect that we can be that change – or not.

  81. I can really relate to what you shared about your time in primary school and definitely remember the shiny useless toilet paper that was like grease proof paper not practical or nice at all. And reflecting on this and other things became really aware of the lack of care and love in the world and more importantly how it doesn’t have to be this way. We all have a choice and can all choose and the more of us that choose love and care the bigger the ripple affect for the all .. supporting others to choose this as well not just for themselves but for everyone ❤️

    1. It amazes me the detail in which our bodies remember everything. When I read CBH’s recounts of the toilet paper, I too remembered how not only did the toilet paper not absorb liquid but it seemed to actively repel it! What’s absolutely fascinating for me to reflect on is that our bodies remember the minutest details about our lives and yet there is a part of us that chooses to forget whole chunks of our childhood, literally years and years. What is it that we are choosing to forget?

    2. I too remember the ‘shiny useless toilet paper’! It really was not good! I love how you supported the child in your class, CBH, to honour what he was feeling about his blunt pencil. He will learn from now on that it’s ok to honour how he is feeling about anything in life and make choices that support this.

    3. I smiled at this because I so remember the toilet paper that was like grease proof paper. I never wanted to go to the loo either and after I had clocked that the staff at the school got proper paper in their toilet I would sometimes sneak in there to go, but was always terrified of being caught so going to the loo was always a tense affair.

  82. Beautiful to feel how you supported all the children to honour their sensitivity within the safe space of your classroom.

  83. I’m a very sensitive man and this felt like a curse for much of my life. It is something that I and many other men I know have endeavoured to shut down, deny or ignore. What I have found is that in truth it is not possible to shut down sensitivity for it is as much a part of us as seeing, smelling, tasting, touching and hearing is. We are naturally sensitive beings and so we may deny it but it doesn’t actually change the fact. How amazing it would have been to have a teacher who understood this and embraced sensitivity. Thank you CBH for raising the awareness of this for teachers, parents and adults everywhere.

    1. It is sad to hear that you have felt being a sensitive man has felt like a curse for much of your life. It should not be the case at all and I will truly celebrate the day when men, woman and children feel they can embrace their sensitivity and not be afraid to do so. Being sensitive is not a weakness it is in fact a strength.

    2. Maybe it felt like a curse because people treat it as if you are weak if you are sensitive. If you showed any sensitivity at school I discovered I would be humiliated first by the teacher, then picked on by my peers. The kids in your class are altogether in another league to my peers and I feel sure that this is down to you and how you connect to them.

    3. I can relate so well to what you write Richard though as a child I did not perceive it as a curse. Instead it made me feel that there was something wrong with me which I had to learn to correct though however much I endeavoured to do so and whatever I did never seemed to be enough. Oh what a joy it is know that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with me.

    4. As a child I was incredibly sensitive until I got bullied and then I changed and hardened. I then, as an adult bullied a male colleague who was very sensitive. I labelled him as weak and found myself to be completely intolerant of him. I wonder now if what I couldn’t bear was the reflection that he was offering me. He was in my life when I was my hardest and nastiest and rather than value his reflection my reaction was to crush it. This appalling behaviour goes on constantly, my sensitivity was bullied out of me and in turn I then attempted to bully it out of another and so it unfortunately goes.

    5. We are indeed naturally sensitive beings and it is a strength not a weakness because it informs us of much that is unspoken but still very much communicated.

    6. As a girl and woman, being deeply sensitive was very challenging, but it was generally accepted that shedding a tear or two was acceptable. For a boy and a man the message is loud and clear… this won’t be tolerated under any circumstances… you had better wise up and man up or face being ridiculed.

  84. It feels like the school environment toughens us up for a tough exterior in adult life, and we become detached from feeling what is happening in our bodies. To find a classroom where the children are able to talk openly about their sensitivities is a godsend and hopefully a new trend.

  85. Thank you for writing such a great blog about our sensitivity which is equally in children as it is in adults. I went to an office recently where I had to be signed in by a security guard I would say the man was middle aged and what struck me immediately was his sensitivity and how he was trying to hide it by being overweight and playing dumb but underneath this exterior posturing was a highly sensitive man who didn’t feel safe showing his sensitivity to the world.

  86. I really enjoyed reading this CBH, so much opportunity to cherish the sensitivity that children feel. What a lifelong difference that can make to a child’s whole outlook on their value and their place in the world.

    1. It is not possible to feel God in our bodies without our sensitivity. We can go to church every Sunday, we can pray three times a day, we can spend a lifetime reading religious books but without sensitivity it’s just not possible to know God in our bodies. And it’s in our bodies that we do know who He is.

      1. Great truth in your comment. So why is it that I have lived a life subtlety believing a life of quiet austerity and sacrifice is rewarded by God’s approval? My parents tried to spare me from religion but I heard so many times that Christ died for our sins.

        It has never made sense to me that God would want me to be forever guilty, trying to make up for past actions rather than coming to know the love that I am. And all those pictures of Christ on the cross? They just felt like a threat: that all that is not love would come after me if I dared to love myself and know myself as a Son of God.

      2. There are forces that are heavily invested in ensuring that we stay as far away from the truth of God as possible and so what better way than to make religion into a guaranteed way of avoiding God? What an evil and cunning plan eh?

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