Why Highly Sensitive People Are Well-Suited to Working With Kids

A highly sensitive person working with kids

Highly sensitive people are extraordinarily skilled at “seeing” others and knowing what they need — which includes kids.

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) are both heartbreakingly delicate and extremely strong. Making up around 20 percent of the population, HSPs feel deeper, have exceptionally powerful intuition, and can relate easily to other people since they absorb their emotions with the blink of an eye. They’re able to connect and “get” others in a way which less sensitive people may find difficult to understand. This makes HSPs valuable employees for the jobs that require people skills — they excel in teaching, nursing, counseling, and many other caring professions. 

As an HSP who works with special needs children, I find it immensely exciting and rewarding, making it one of the ideal jobs for highly sensitive types. Working with children has dramatically changed my life and shifted my previously negative approach to my sensitivity to a more positive outlook. It turns out that my abilities to quietly listen and empathize with children means the world to them, and to me. My extreme sensitivity to just about anything — which I thought of as a weakness in the past — makes children easily relate to me, as they’re often naturally more sensitive compared to adults.

But what makes us HSPs so perfect to work with children? Here’s what I’ve found.

6 Reasons HSPs Are Well-Suited to Working With Kids 

1. Your endless empathy will make them feel seen and heard.

Children have the capacity to feel and act on their own emotions, but not necessarily to regulate them. And because HSPs are extraordinarily skilled at “seeing” others — it’s like we have secret powers — they can help them process their feelings. This will reduce overwhelm, overstimulation, and anxiety. Often, we HSPs intuitively know exactly how we can help, which is a big benefit at our workplaces.

2. HSPs are great listeners and always present. 

Nothing is more important for kids than to have a listening, caring adult who is patient and understanding. Every educator knows that some children may exhibit challenging behavior, especially children with additional needs. HSPs are known for their remarkable ability to relate to even the most difficult humans, and our love and compassion for them creates a strong bond. 

3. You have a lot in common with kids, from your zest for life to your child-like wonder about the world.

With an uncanny zest for life and endless curiosity, HSPs have a lot in common with kids and are able to integrate into their lives with ease. Working with children made me rediscover the forgotten sweat of running in a field, the joy of scoring a goal, the sweet smell of autumn leaves thrown in the air, the sudden laugh about anything, and trust, this undeniable, unquestionable, ultimate trust. No one ever was able to trust me so completely and wholeheartedly like a child with special needs under my care. And one captured my heart with such intensity, making me question the meaning of my sensitivity; saying goodbye to him at the end of the school year was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

4. You seek meaning and purpose in the world, and want others to, as well.

HSPs need to have meaning and purpose in everything they do; we seek personal growth while yearning for a routine. Working with kids is rewarding and worthwhile for future generations, too, and it ticks many boxes for us HSPs. While we have great challenges as highly sensitive souls, our HSP qualities also create a world of balance and harmony for ourselves and those around us. We continue to rejoice in simple, yet complex, fundamental aspects of life, enhanced by our deeply sensitive hearts — and we take our kids with us. Spending time with my students during their break, playing a game, coloring, singing, and just talking and being present with them creates the capacity for learning almost never seen during formal lessons. That was an eye-opener and a gift for me, and helped me grow as both a professional and as a person.

5. Because you are passionate about what you do, “work” doesn’t seem like work.

Because of their sensory processing differences, HSPs are able to feel extraordinary joy in doing what they love. Everybody who is lucky enough to find a job in the area of their passion may experience this authentic delight in what they do. But our tender personalities allow us to feel exquisitely intense, larger-than-life passion. And children can pick up on that. Knowing that someone adores working with them will leave them with no option but to love us back. 

One of the challenges for HSPs is to prove their worth, as most HSPs are magnificently quiet about that. We’re not known to seek recognition about our own success, even though working with children provides recognition of our talents and value for our sensitivity trait. But, rest assured, your immense impact on young souls will be noticed and commemorated. The parent of the child in a special needs school I used to work at once said to me, “There is something about you. I don’t know what it is, I have no name for it, but you are the one who makes all the difference for my child.”

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6. HSPs are all about connecting with others, no matter their age.

The beauty of humans is in their complexity. Understanding children doesn’t mean “knowing” — understanding means “connecting” (which HSPs excel at). The connection shapes us as to who we are. As children are the future of humanity, connecting with them puts us in extraordinary positions of finding spiritual meaning, and, ultimately, the meaning of life. In a sense, we are shaping and fostering humanity. 

Working With Children Can Be a Challenge, Too — Especially for HSPs

I have no intention to glamorize working with children. Although I feel lucky to work with beautiful special needs kids, the job can be demanding, exhausting, and at times, extremely challenging. For highly sensitive people, the challenges are amplified: Just like we can feel immense joy from someone’s smile, the smallest problem can propel us into despair. It’s a blessing and a curse.

In a teaching profession, there are many passion-killers, such as endless and confusing paperwork, a phenomenal lack of time for planning, and, my “favorite” (as it creates massive emotional overload): criticism. So-called “constructive feedback” of my performance wounds my whole body and I feel the consequences for a long time. Plus, we HSPs do not take criticism well and are also our own harshest critics. Adding to our already-prepositioned negative perception of what we’ve done “wrong” may destroy us emotionally at times.

But even with ultimate pressures and demands to stretch our often-fragile mental health, we soldier on, bouncing off various emotions and sensory stimuli. The chaotic whirlpool may try to swallow us, creating an almost unbearable fear, anxiety, and fatigue. But with our capacity to be sucked into our own negativity, we also have miraculous abilities to be pulled back up sometimes by an unexpected force. For me, that force was a child’s hand. What is it for you? That’s what’ll make it all worth it and keep you going.

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