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Were you a "high-Reactive" introverted kid? [High-Reactives: Part-two]

Here's part two on "high-reactive" people, and the unique ways in which they suffer as well as can do well in the world.  Excerpts from Quiet:  The Power of Introverts In a World That Can't Stop Talking.

High-reactive kids and adults:
Although much of the research with "high-reactives"  has been done with kids, "the footprint of a high- or low-reactive temperament never disappeared in adulthood" when those same persons were tested in adulthood. 

In other words, you certainly have the free-will to change some parts of your personality, but certain aspects will follow you into old age.  According to the "rubber band theory" of personality, we can stretch our personalities to a degree, but they'll always snap back to a preferred default position.

More characteristics of a "high-reactive" temperament:

  • These kids are more at risk when there's "marital tension, a parent's death, or abuse.  They're more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety, and shyness." 

  • But there's a beneficial side to having high-reactive kids - especially if they're parented well under a stable environment:  These kids will "tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers, studies show."  They can even be more resistant to the common cold when in a nurturing environment.

  • These children [and presumably as they grow into adulthood] are often "exceedingly empathic, caring, and cooperative.  They are kind, conscientious, and easily disturbed by cruelty, injustice, and irresponsibility." 

According to Jay Belsky, "'Instead of seeing these kids as vulnerable to adversity, parents should see them as malleable - for worse, but also for better.'"  The ideal parent for a high-reactive child:

  • "can read you cues and respect your individuality;"
  • "is warm and firm in placing demands on you without being harsh or hostile;"
  • "is not harsh, neglectful, or inconsistent."


Creating a new environment for high-reactives [and probably everyone else as well]

As I read this research, it was obvious to me that "high-reactives" in particular need a grace-filled environment  - absent of accusation and shame.   Certainly, though, everyone could benefit from gracious relationships; but particularly "high-reactives." 


  • Respond without reactivity.
  • Refrain from controlling and accusing.
  • Confront [when necessary] with information, not condemnation.
  • Celebrate the new heart in the other before jumping in.


Related posts:


What about you?
What did you experience as a "high-reactive" kid?  How has it carried over into adulthood and what benefit has it brought you?

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