Helping Highly Sensitive Children Avoid Meltdowns and Thrive in Uncertain Times (HPC: E83)

Now more than ever, it’s highly risky to be a “highly sensitive person” — HSPs, children included, are more sensitive to stress and threats, and boy do we have a lot of both of those flying around.

HSPs really feeeeeel all the pain that others are going through and want to help, but that isn’t always good for the HSP themselves. And HSCs may actually manifest with physical symptoms, mysterious illnesses, and unexplained behavior issues simply because they can’t process their stress well enough.

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I recorded this interview with Dr. Pejman Katiraei, an expert in finding root causes of some of the most severe kids’ behavioral issues, last fall, but it’s more important than ever in these uncertain times for us to dial in on our high sensitive children and help them survive and thrive in this stressful environment.

Tune in today to learn:

  • Why “highly sensitive children” or HSCs are so “highly aware” and how that impacts their daily lives
  • Whether an HSC can be “cured” or not
  • The difference between sensory processing disorder and high sensitivity
  • The beauty and gifts of being an HSC or HSP
  • Why a highly sensitive child might “go haywire” — and where Dr. Katiraei looks for root causes
  • How nutrition and food plays a huge role
  • Why kids may need adrenal support

If your child seems to be “taking it all in” and reacting poorly to this COVID-19 upheaval, or if you watched my intro to highly sensitive people and thought you might have this trait, you need this info.

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Highly Sensitive Child Video Time Stamps

  • 0:14: Today we have Dr. Pejman Katiraei on the Healthy Parenting Connector. He is a pediatrician cross-trained in osteopathy, functional/biomedical medicine, allopathic medicine, and endobiogeny. (Don’t worry, I’ll tell you what that is!) He is an expert at digging into the root cause of kid’s behavioral issues.
  • 2:12: Dr. K shares his story with us. After a few years of medical school, he almost left the medical field. Now he loves working in pediatrics and has pursued a great deal of further education to serve his clients.

┬áNo eight year old should have to contemplate whether they’re a bad person. -Dr. Pejman Katiraei

  • 5:52: When kids have behavior that’s off the charts, there can be an underlying physiological cause.
  • 6:27: Because of his vast breadth of experience and education, Dr. K is able to have a full-picture approach. He can filter information through many lenses to get to the root cause.

What Does it Mean to be a Highly Sensitive Child?

  • 8:11: Dr. K breaks down what it means to be a highly sensitive child. (HSC)
  • 9:00: Why coffee may give you jitters or spike anxiety. It’s related to brain chemistry that leads to increased sensitivity.
  • 9:49: Even as babies, kids can display signs of being highly sensitive.
  • 10:16: 30% of the population has some type of sensory processing difficulties. Dr. K differentiates a bit between being highly sensitive and having a sensory processing disorder.

Having this awareness is a gift, but we can also go out of balance far more easily than others. -Dr. Katiraei

  • 11:33: Highly sensitive children have some hormonal differences as well. Heightened thyroid function can lead to intense imaginations, vivid dreams, and creativity.
  • 13:21: In Dr. K’s experience, the majority of children he sees for behavioral issues are HSCs. A highly sensitive child may go haywire because they hit a wall of overwhelm and cannot process it.

How Does Diet Affect Sensory Processing?

  • 15:14: Diet can make a profound difference in sensory issues. Poor diet leading to inflammation and gut issues worsens sensory disorders.

What you're doing though diet can make a profound difference for highly sensitive children. -Dr. Katiraei

  • 16:23: The good news is that there are things you can do to help your highly sensitive child maintain balance and function well in this highly sensory world. There are therapies that can actually change the way the brain takes in sound!

We have all the tools out there. -Dr. Pejman Katiraei

  • 17:57: We talk about the role of nutrition in highly sensitive kids. One big thing to note is that almost all HSCs have oral sensory issues and will need to go slowly making dietary changes.

Your child isn't losing their mind because they're a bad person, it's because their blood sugar has crashed. -Dr. Katiraei

  • 18:44: Blood sugar fluctuations are huge for these kids! Getting enough fat and protein to maintain blood sugar balance can make a big difference in behavior.
  • 20:25: Parents don’t necessarily have the tools to recognize all the little pieces so instead we blame the child. “He’s just acting out.” “She’s a wild-child.” When really they need us to understand them better so we can help them.

I’ve had kids diagnosed with ADHD get better just by eating eggs for breakfast and a turkey sandwich for lunch. -Dr. Pejman Katiraei

  • 21:48: We talk more specifically about which foods to incorporate. Many HSCs don’t eat enough vegetables which leads to nutrient deficiencies, low fiber, and gut imbalance.

What is the foundational piece that's going to allow everything else to normalize? -Dr. Katiraei

  • 23:21: It can be a vicious cycle. The child isn’t able to eat the foods they need because of their sensory processing issues and their poor diet leads to further problems. Working with a feeding therapist can help your child tolerate more foods.
  • 25:17: There is no one fix pill. It’s a process and there will be different steps for each child.

Other Factors Affecting Highly Sensitive Children

  • 26:37: Another common problem for highly sensitive children is having a metabolic disorder. Kids who fatigue easily and can’t run around, climb and play for very long. Moving your muscles around and initiating the vestibular system actually rewires your brain to build endurance.
  • 29:36: Supplementation can help these kids boost their energy to jump-start this process. Dr. K shares a specific case of a girl who had a 180-degree change after using a supplement.

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  • 32:21: Not everyone with metabolic syndrome is highly sensitive and vice versa. Dr. K gives a few other clues to see if your child has metabolic syndrome.

Children don’t think; they just do. -Dr. Pejman Katiraei

  • 34:00: Adrenal insufficiency is also seen often in highly sensitive people. “Tired but wired,” struggling to wake up, dip in energy mid-afternoon, and getting a second wind in the evening are all signs of adrenal imbalance.
  • 35:24: Black currant can be used to boost adrenal gland function. It can make a huge difference! Start low and don’t overdo it. Work up to 1-2 mL a day.
  • 39:10: We leave you with one practical step to take this week for a quick win.

Resources We Mentioned for Highly Sensitive Kids

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Dr. Pejman Katiraei is one of the few pediatricians in the country who is cross-trained in osteopathy, functional/biomedical medicine, allopathic (that means he’s a regular DO), along with a novel system called Endobiogeny which teaches us to also consider how the hormones can influence our experience of life. He founded and directed the Loma Linda Pediatric “Wholistic” Medicine Clinic for 7 years, and he now runs his own clinic, Wholistic Kids and Families in Santa Monica, CA.

He’s an expert in understanding and digging to the root cause of some of the most severe kids’ behavioral issues, and most importantly, dad of a thriving little girl and one on the way!

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