This month we close out the Empath Series discussing the empath child – how to know if you are raising one and special considerations for helping them grow into healthy, productive, and fearless adults.
I’ve encountered lots of people who think children on the empath spectrum are different from adults on the same spectrum. The truth is, we’re not so different. The difference between empath children and adults is the ability to understand what’s happening when experiencing sensory overload.
There are many theories and experts that say empathic children and adults appear much like that of those on the autistic spectrum. I believe this is one of those things where Autistic children and adults are usually highly sensitive or empathic, but, that does not mean that every empathic spectrum child or adult is automatically on the autism spectrum. All apples are fruits, not all fruits are apples. If you believe your child may be on the autism spectrum, please seek proper medical attention.
So, the good news is, if you are on the empathic spectrum, it’s highly unlikely that you won’t recognize sensitivity in your child. You will most likely feel it early on or even from birth. The way your baby stares at people appears intense and different. When you are upset, they are inconsolable rather than just fussy.
However, high emotional sensitivity may manifest for your empath child in ways not easy to recognize.
Inexplicable tantrums or meltdowns ensue at the store, family gatherings, sporting events, and other places. Surprise! There’s an actual reason for these meltdowns, it’s just not visible to the naked eye. The empath child receives an overload of emotional and physical stimuli. This isn’t different than the empath adult. Loud noises, crowds, bright lights, and an invasion of personal space equal a recipe for disaster. The empath is receiving more input than he or she can effectively process. Imagine for a moment that you’re in a room with 100 people raking their nails down a chalkboard. That’s what a trip to your local food shop feels like to an empath child or adult. And being that children have no control to remove themselves from the situation, BOOM! Meltdown aisle 6.
As an example, when I was around 5 my parents separated. During this time, they got into some of the worst verbal fights – yelling, screaming, etc. I remember standing on the stairs screaming and crying so loudly that I would begin to shake uncontrollably. No one knew what empathic abilities were when I was growing up. Looking back, I know why I reacted the way I did. My senses were overloaded, and I was too little to understand or express it.
If you have an older empath child, they may begin to isolate themselves from activities in which sensory overload occurs. Empathic abilities, if left untreated, often manifest as severe anxiety and can lead to depression. If your child is anxious or depressed, seek proper medical attention. However, if they are an empath child, there are ways to help them at home.
Keep trips to places that historically cause sensory overload short and to a minimum when possible. Try to lessen the stimuli’s effect with sunglasses, noise-reducing headphones, and emotional comfort items (blankie/teddy/lucky keychain) while out and about.
Respect your child’s boundaries in situations with friends and family. Overly touching or invading an empath child’s personal space is disruptive to their energetic field. If they resist hugging or sitting on someone’s lap, back them up. Empaths are extremely affectionate but on their terms. Also ensure there is a quiet space for your child to escape and regroup if necessary.
Traditional schooling can be a challenge for the empath child. I have witnessed empathic children needing special education enrollment and I’ve seen empathic children placed in gifted programs. The point is, they need to be supported in their learning environment. Be your child’s advocate with teachers and administrators and set up a meeting with the guidance counselor to discuss your empath child’s needs.
Empath children often feel like outsiders. They usually avoid big groups of friends opting instead for a few close friends. The empath child also needs plenty of alone time to rest and recharge. They may fuss over play dates or avoid going out with friends in favor of reading a book or a hobby. Most empath children appear as introverts or ambiverts.
Looking back on my own childhood, there were a few things that helped me immensely. I participated as a counselor to other students in peer dispute resolution. This put my skills to use and allowed me to learn how to communicate emotions. I also participated in a program called Odyssey of the Mind. It allows children to use creativity to solve problems. Having a creative or athletic outlet for the empath child is crucial. It allows them to focus on a task and themselves while inadvertently shedding the energies they’ve picked up.
Most empathic children have a connection to nature, animals, or both. Children you see spending more time with animals than humans are more than likely on the empathic spectrum. Nature offers the empath child a peaceful place to recharge. And animals? They don’t give their opinion, they just love unconditionally.
If you live in an urban area, make time for nature. Go to the beach, the forest, the mountains, or even to the local park. These kids need time in and around nature to release the energies they absorb. For me, just putting my hands on a tree, or climbing up one when I was growing up, was healing and soothing.
It may be difficult for your child to watch, read, or listen to things of an emotional nature. They may cry during emotional scenes in books or movies or leave the room when tragic or violent news airs on the TV. Empath children are literally able to feel what the people in media are feeling – be it good or bad.
One thing that’s helped me as an adult to be sensitive to empathic children is to preview the media first. Now that doesn’t mean I can always correctly gauge what will be triggering for the empathic child, but it does allow me to be prepared for emotional reactions that may arise. Educating oneself, and being prepared, are the best things adults can do for an empath child. Previewing media helps you decide if it’s just too much for your child’s sensitivity.
There is lots of nuance to children and adults on the empathic spectrum. The most important thing you can remember about the child empath is they are exactly like adult empaths except less equipped to intelligibly express and explain their emotions and experiences. As a caregiver, it’s your job to ask questions, observe, take action, and advocate for your child. For further confirmation, check out the quiz on Judy Orloff, M.D.’s, author of the Empath’s Survival Guide, website.
Thank you for joining me for the Empath Series here on the Otherworldly Oracle. I have enjoyed sharing my experiences and knowledge on all things empathic. I will see you all again in 2020, when we start a new decade and a new series! Happy holidays, warm wishes, many blessings and much love from my home to yours.
Allorah Rayne is a practitioner of amnestic wayfaring witchcraft and has been part of the online spiritual community since 2012. Her introduction to Tarot was the age of nine and she pursued more intensive learning at fifteen. Allorah is the founder of Wayfaring Witch © where she offers occult readings, mentorship, and supplies. She is also the co-founder of Spread This, Witches!, a community centered divination organization. Contact Allorah on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A random thought about the future warns you not to go a certain direction. A …September 8, 2023