Recognizing an empathic child can be quite a challenge, especially if you are not an empath yourself. Often times their abilities go overlooked and they are left to cope with overwhelming emotions and a lifetime of feeling broken.
When we as parents are able to recognize the signs that our child may have empathic abilities, we can set them up for a lifetime of wholeness and success, despite the challenges they may face.
Know What to Look For
The younger the child is, the more difficult it will be to determine whether or not they are an empath. Some signs to look for are:
- Unexplained tantrums
- Teenage-like moodiness
- Extreme shifts in behavior
- Emotionally distant or the appearance of “shutting down”
- Difficulties focusing, especially in public or crowded places
- Excessive shyness
While these signs can point to a variety of things, when paired with the parent’s observation of patterns in behavior in relation to the child’s surroundings, over time you may want to look into the possibility of empathic abilities in your child.
Listen and Accept
If you do suspect that your child is an empath, the best step you can take is to actively listen and offer sincere acceptance and validation to your child. Some of the feelings they experience can be overwhelming, frightening and confusing. Dealing with these large feelings on their own is very challenging for a child. By listening to what they are feeling and validating it rather than belittling it, dismissing it or writing it off as a behavior problem, you strengthen their ability to handle the feelings and give them the confidence they need to cope with them.
Acceptance is so important as they already feel weird and different among their peers. It is necessary to help them recognize that they have a unique gift (like a natural at baseball or a talented artist) and that they are not broken.
Help Them Understand
Often times, empathic children are not fully aware of where their feelings are coming from. It can be difficult for parents to decipher it as well. All the signs listed above may come across as disobedient, difficult or moody, but by listening to your child and observing the situation, you can begin to pick up on cues that will help you both understand the sudden shifts or waves of emotion.
For example, if your child becomes angry for no apparent reason, consider your surroundings. You may notice a man upset with a cashier, a child not getting a toy they want, or even a grumpy face on a passerby. Point out your observations to your child. Tell them, “you may be picking up on their angry energy.”
If the child protests and becomes more upset, don’t push it. They may be genuinely upset and you can risk dismissing their emotions. By simply pointing it out, you can help them learn how to assess their emotions on many levels rather than just letting the feelings overtake or confuse them.
Teach Coping Skills
A helpful tool for all children, healthy emotional coping skills are very important in teaching a child that, not only are they responsible for their emotions, but that they can take control of them. Without appropriate coping skills, a child can become run by their feelings, stunting their emotional maturity. Because empathic children have to cope with their own emotions as well as those of others, coping skills are key to remaining balanced and emotionally mature.
Some examples of coping skills that will help your empathic child are:
- Relaxation techniques (i.e. breathing exercises, blowing bubbles, guided imagery, prayer, etc.)
- Emotional Freeing Techniques
- Exercise and active play
- Earthing (or Grounding)
After you help your child balance themselves emotionally, you can then return to listening and sharing your observations with your child. When they no longer feel overwhelmed with emotions, they can more clearly determine the cause of them, whether by sharing with you why they were upset or by recognizing that they may have been picking up on someone else’s energy.
Living as an empath certainly poses many challenges that are hard for the non-empathic to understand, but even if you cannot understand what your child is going through, being there, supporting them and trusting in them will help them to learn about themselves and their gift as well as how to live a balanced life.
While the beginning of their journey may be rocky and confusing, as you navigate the waters together, over time they will become more emotionally stable and better able to control and cope with the overwhelming energies. Continue to listen, accept and give your child healthy coping skills and you will watch them flourish into amazingly gifted, emotionally mature adults.