What Is An Orchid Child?

Have you ever heard of the term orchid child? Derived from the Swedish term ‘orkidbarne,’ the term is used to describe a child who is genetically sensitive. So what is an orchid child? 

Like an orchid, orchid children under the right conditions bloom to their full potential but require considerable care.

You might think it’s a little strange that children are now being described in terms of flora and fauna. However, studies suggest that ‘orchid’ children possess neurobiological differences of enhanced receptivity to their surrounding environment, hence the name ‘orchid’ child.

What Is An Orchid Child

About 1 in 5 children are considered to be more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed by their environment, whether that becoming easily alarmed or overly passionate about something. As such, like orchids, orchid children are significantly sensitive to their environments and the way they are received in their environment. 

Do you think you have a sensitive child? This post will give you an insight into what an ‘orchid’ child is and how you can help your sensitive child thrive.

What Is An ‘Orchid’ Child?

The term ‘orchid’ child was first coined by human development specialists, Bruce J. Ellis and W. Thomas Boyce who studied how children responded in their home environments.

Their studies found a new genetic concept that established that some children are considered to be more sensitive and receptive to their environment. 

They established that these extra-sensitive children, ‘orchid children,’ would either thrive in an environment where they receive the care and special attention they need or become vulnerable in a home with a stressful environment.  

With the new concept of the orchid child born, research began and found that orchid children possess a unique gene that makes them more vulnerable to stress.

This gene, along with being in a stressful or challenging home environment can consequently lead an ‘orchid’ child to be tipped over the edge as studies show that the combination is likely to lead to the development of poor behavior. 

Orchid children are sensitive not only to their environment but their immediate surroundings. Sensitive children are highly receptive as they experience a sensory overload.

Hence, a child expressing frequent discomfort and complaints that their clothes are uncomfortable, their food is burning their mouth or that sounds are too overwhelming, may be exhibiting enhanced receptivity.

Being so sensitive to what’s around them makes ‘orchid’ children more sensitive to child-rearing techniques and practices. Hence, it’s critical that sensitive children are surrounded by an encouraging and positive environment. 

How To Create An Environment Where Your Orchid Child Can Blossom

In the right conditions, a sensitive child can excel. There are a couple of ways in which you can help to create an environment in which your child can bloom to their full potential. The latter include: 


Being able to embrace and accept your child for who they are is critical. For many parents, sensitivity is perceived as a weakness. However, this is a misconception as it should instead be perceived as a strength. 

Though sensitive children may have it tougher than others, their ability to persevere is a massive strength. When encouraged a sensitive child can achieve great things and thrive and be sensitive at the same time.

Hence, it’s essential that you use positive language around your child. As orchids are considered one of the most beautiful flowers, the term orchid child is a positive one.

Be mindful not to complain or speak negatively of their sensitive straits and instead embrace and praise them for who they are. Families that embrace their differences tend to thrive as it teaches children to celebrate who they are and what makes them who they are.

Be sure to also model this in your own behavior by talking about yourself in a kind and loving way. 

Build Strength For Your Orchid Child 

What Is An Orchid Child?

Sensitive children may experience negative comments in regards to their sensitive traits from family, friends, or even strangers. As their parent, it’s critical that you teach your child how to set healthy boundaries.

If your child experiences a negative response, a great way to help them build confidence and find strength in setting boundaries is through role-playing.

Let them know that it’s okay to stand up for themselves or to remove themselves from a situation that they feel uncomfortable in. 

Gentle And Loving Discipline 

Raising children is all about teaching and guiding them. Though sensitive, there may be times where discipline is necessary. Now, when we say discipline, this doesn’t mean punishment.

Practicing gentle discipline is all about teaching your child and setting boundaries, it is not about belittling them. 

Hence, practicing loving discipline includes practices such as getting down to the same eye level and explaining the consequences of your child’s actions before taking away a toy for example.

This can also include setting a reward system in which nothing is taken away but they are only rewarded for good behavior. 

Provide Emotional Support For Your Orchid Child

‘Orchid’ children are sensitive and thus experience emotions intensely. To create a loving environment for your child, it is important that you provide additional emotional support.

Establish a space where your child knows that it’s okay to feel however they feel. Be sure not to criticize them when they cry and instead let them know that it’s okay to let it all out. 

Encourage Play 

Independent and group play is essential for cognitive development and for improving wellbeing. Encouraging play is a great way to get your orchid child to feel at peace with their sensitivity as it offers a space where they can interact with their senses in a safe and non-judgmental environment. 

Encouraging play, like messy play, is a great way to stimulate imagination, encourage creativity and reduce stress. Play is also effective in enabling children to overcome trauma or difficult situations.

Roleplay for example is an activity in which children can act out a dilemma in which they can get everything out in the open to better process whatever is troubling them. 

Takeaway On What Is An Orchid Child

Everyone is different and that’s what makes us unique. ‘Orchid’ children possess a unique sensitivity that makes them experience the world in a heightened way. In this article, we have looked at what an orchid child is, and the best techniques to make them thrive.

In the right conditions, these children can thrive and excel in anything they do. With the tips presented you’ll be able to create an environment in which your child can reach their full potential.

Joyce Bailey
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