Is your child constantly told that they are too sensitive or too emotional? Are you finding yourself or others telling them to just “get over it, you’ll be right”? Are they intuitive and compassionate? Do they have frequent stomach complaints and have trouble sleeping? Chances are they might be an empath but what is the difference between our child showing empathy (as most kids will do) and them being an empath?
Here are my top 13 signs:
- They are sensitive to the feelings and emotions of those around them. They often feel overwhelmed or anxious in crowded or noisy environments.
- They are intuitive, meaning they can pick up on subtle cues and body language to read emotions. They can easily tell when you are lying 😊.
- They will often have a maturity beyond their years.
- They will typically avoid conflict and may have a challenging time standing up for themselves. (Often the target of bullying).
- Are compassionate and natural helpers and may go out of their way to assist others, even if it means sacrificing their own needs. As such they will be the first one to help in the classroom or schoolyard and usually play the role of “counsellor” in their friendship group.
- They are intense thinkers and have a vivid imagination.
- May become drained or overwhelmed when engaging with intense emotions. They will have strong reactions to sad or scary scenes in movies and books.
- They will often have a strong connection to nature and may find peace spending time outdoors and/or with their pets.
- Require a lot of alone time to recharge and process their emotions. They will want to withdraw to their room or another quiet place to recharge and need to do this on a regular basis to escape any sensory input.
- Sensory Symptoms: Loud noises, sudden moves, bright lights, different fabrics, and smells can do more than just annoy our empathic kids; they can actually prohibit them from performing everyday tasks.
- Physical symptoms: May experience physical symptoms in response to others’ emotions, such as a sore throat, ear infections, and headaches. Stomach aches and nausea are particularly common with our empathic kids as this is the area (think Solar Plexus Chakra) where we feel and process the emotions of others. Food allergies are also common.
- Emotional Symptoms: Mood swings, irritability, outbursts of anger, and quick to anger “she goes from 0-100 in a flash” can all be signs of emotional dysregulation in our empathic kids. Poor quality of sleep and/or lack of sleep is also common.
- Our Empath Kids are often labelled as Autistic, having Sensory Processing Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, and/or ADHD.
So how can I help my little Empath manage their empathy overload?
- Teach them to manage their stress using breathing exercises like belly breathing or 4-count breathing.
- Practise mindfulness and meditation with them. A playlist of meditations can be found here.
- Develop a good bedtime routine allowing ample time to wind down before sleep.
- Help them identify and manage their emotions through journaling.
- Set up a calm down space for them where they can retreat and relax. Include a list of calming activities they can do here along with the resources to complete the activities.
- Encourage and validate their interests and passions, such as art or music, to help them express and process their emotions.
- Sit down at the dinner table and ask open-ended questions like “Tell me something that made you happy today.” Get them out of their heads and communicating.
- Encourage them to get outside in the fresh air and to go barefoot when and where appropriate.
- Get them to exercise daily even if for just 10-15 minutes.
- Help them develop further techniques for managing stress and anxiety, such as reframing negative thinking and the use of “I am” affirmations to assert who they are and who they want to be. An article on the benefits of I am statements which includes a printable pdf list to get you started can be found here.
- Use crystals. What kid does not love crystals? These can be used for grounding, increasing confidence, and in a spray form to clear their environment. An article titled “Calming Crystals for Kids” can be found here.
Whether your child proves to be an empath or “just” a sensitive kid, the way we parent them to ensure that their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing needs are being met, remains the same. Follow the advice above and most importantly, validate them, show them how to love and accept themselves for who they are, and how to embrace and work with their sensitivities.
© copyright. May not be reproduced without acknowledgement to the author. Written by Kim Norton 31st May 2023.