Sensitivity Extremes: Connecting with the Whole Spectrum

A Common Scenario

One child has arms crossed while he shouts back short defensive remarks. The other is wailing with huge tears flooding his cheeks. Fingers are being pointed while other students arrive to back their chosen party. Both of the initial kids are offended, past the point of reason, and a long way from a solution.


Part of the reason I love teaching is the unique dynamics found in each class. (I often need to remind myself that this is a good thing.)

This year is no different. This group carries with it a wide range on the sensitivity spectrum. I’ve witnessed moments of oversensitivity opening an onslaught of tears. There’s also been the impulsive stance of insensitivity. How does one even relate to both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between? How do we connect and meet the needs of every individual? Especially when a student’s needs and sensitivity could change from one week to the next. (This definitely happens in sixth grade!)


So my choices are:

  1. I can authoritatively shut down the situation without connecting with either child involved.
  2. I can affirm each child’s stance and emotions. Sort and set apart the truth in the scenario from the presumptions and misconceptions.

One of these takes listening, patience, and a balance of sensitivity and reason.

Why It’s Not That Easy

The first understanding I had to reach before affectively approaching this issue was that No One desires either extreme. No One wants to be overly sensitive or insensitive. Of course I’m never reminded of these important revelations in the moment, this reflection happened days after while cutting the grass on a Saturday. Another reason I should cut the grass more.

I then began to consider, “What causes one to be on either extreme of this sensitivity spectrum?” There has to be a cause to one bawling due to a peer’s single spoken word. Or why one wouldn’t anticipate the effects of his/her insensitive actions. I wrongly started speculating causes to be factors such as homelife, unhealthy relationships, poor self-image, and so on.

Then I looked inward.

The second realization of the matter came a day after cutting the grass. This type of reflection doesn’t happen quickly for me but thanks to God it did happen.

My mind reeled in my personal bouts of oversensitivity. Then the insensitive moments came rushing to my recognition.

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Proverbs 27:19

Wait, I’m broken too. I embody both extremes of this spectrum? Yes, and so do you. This is the reality of being human…

Insensitivity equals a lack of grace

Oversensitivity grows from needing the approval of others, or validation of self.

Both ends of the spectrum is a result of one attempting to please their own flesh.

I must be a better model of selflessness and servanthood for my students. “Is my response pleasing my flesh or pleasing the Spirit?” A questions I can’t ask myself enough.

Galatians 6: 7-8