By Raven Fon
Empathic children are born differently. They have nervous systems which react more quickly and strongly to external stimuli including stress.
Children who are natural born empaths tend to feel too much but they don’t know how to manage the sensory overload. They see more, hear more, smell more, intuit more, and experience emotions more. For instance, they may not like strong food smells in the kitchen, perfumes, harsh bright lights (particularly florescent bulbs), or loud talking. They prefer soft (not scratchy) clothes, beauty, nature, and having one or a few close friends rather than many acquaintances.
Their sensitivities can get assaulted by our coarse world, and this affects their behavior. Since most empathic children can’t articulate the cause of their upset, enlightened parents can help them by identifying these 12 signs below:
1- They tend to feel things deeply.
2- They will become over-simulated by crowds, noise, and stress.
3- They will respond strongly, or negatively, to sad or frightening scenes in books and movies.
4- They will want to escape and hide from family gatherings because “there’s too much going on.”
5- They say that they feel “different” than other kids, or complain about not fitting in.
6- They are an exceptionally good listener and are very compassionate with others.
7- They catch you by surprise by saying intuitive comments about others or yourself.
8- They have a strong connection to nature, plants, animals, and even perhaps stuffed animals.
9- They seem to require a lot of time alone instead of playing with other children.
10- They take on, or absorb, their friend’s stresses and emotions.
11- They act angry when you are angry, and can’t explain why they feel the way they do. (Same goes for other emotions as well, like sadness, depression)
As parents, you need to know what overstimulates your empathic children and avoid those activities. Doing so calms them and wards off exhaustion, tantrums, and anxiety.
Typically, society or schools don’t give these exceptional children much understanding. Conventional physicians and teachers often label them as “shy,” “antisocial” or “fussy,” or they’re diagnosed with social phobia, an anxiety disorder, or depression. In addition, they may be quieter, thoughtful, deep, and gentle rather then highly verbal or assertive–which others can perceive as withdrawn. Because of these misconceptions, your role is critical in supporting their sensitivities, intuition, creativity, wisdom, and in teaching them tools to cope with the world.
Adapted from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People(link is external)by Judith Orloff MD