Unlike most adults, children often take time to become attuned to their emotions and surroundings. At their tender age, they are still getting used to things around them and can feel overwhelmed by their surroundings.
While it’s normal for kids not to fully understand their emotions at such an early stage, it may be a slightly different case for empath children. Which is what makes it critical for parents to understand the crucial signs of an empath child.
What Parents Must Know: The 4 Signs Of An Empath Child
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An expert in the field like Dr Judith Orloff explains the concept in the her book named The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. She describes empaths as those who lack the defences from excessive stimulation and feel “others’ emotions, energy, and physical symptoms” in their own bodies.
So unlike with empathy where you understand what another person is feeling, being an empath means you actually feel what the other person is feeling. Almost, as if their emotions are your own.
This is what kids who may be empaths experience.
In an excerpt from her book in Psychology Today, Dr Orloff explains how empath children also feel too much yet still don’t know how to manage the sensory overload.
Here are a few signs of an empath child to help you determine whether your kid is one:
Being sensitive. The most common sign of an empath is sensitivity. They may tend to feel things deeply and may even act out when they see you’re upset.
Needing to be alone. Your child may seek alone time, away from their peers or keep to themselves most of the time. They may even have imaginary friends of their own. Empath children also tend to be overstimulated by crowds and people in general.
Personally taking on other people’s stress and pain. As with their sensitivity, empath kids get upset when seeing other people struggling or when a friend is upset. They may even have a strong connection to nature, plants, animals or stuffed toys, according to Dr Orloff.
Have strong reactions and difficulty handling emotions. Patience is key with empath children. One of the signs of an empath child is that they take longer in calming down. This is true especially when they’re upset whether from a frightening scene they just watched on television or being emotionally invested in another person’s feelings.
5 Key Ways To Parent An Empath Child
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As empath children may not even fully understand their situation, this makes it important for them to get as much support for their sensitivities as early as possible. Which is why, as parents, we should know how we can help. Here’s how:
Help them manage their emotions. Children struggle with expressing themselves and laying out their emotions. At this stage of childhood, we can help them identify their emotions and what triggers them. It is also important that we assure them that what they’re feeling is validated and that they have a safe environment to express themselves.
Set an example for your child. As kids tend to mirror their parents’ behaviour and learn best from what they see, you can be a role model yourself. Know how to regulate your own emotions when in front of them. Emotional intelligence expert Antesa Jensen emphasises that empath children have “a hard time setting boundaries or saying ‘no’ to requests.”
Set boundaries. One way to help your child overcome their empath behaviour is to help them set boundaries. Encourage them to stay away from people and activities that trigger their emotional sensitivity.
Don’t overwhelm them with too many activities. Dr Orloff suggests, “Give your child enough alone time and don’t over-schedule them with activities.” Don’t push them to participate in multiple activities. Instead, allow them to do what they like alone and let them interact with their peers when they want to. Don’t forget that loud noises and crowds easily overwhelm them.
And, of course, support them as much as you can. Dr Orloff also suggests in her book, “Your role is critical in supporting their sensitivities, intuition, creativity, wisdom, and in teaching them tools to cope with the world.” Always be ready to be there and acknowledge what they’re feeling. This is the best way to help them better handle their emotions.
With reports from Nasreen Majid.