by Jennifer Cunnings
We may have heard the term “empath” and wondered if this relates to us or perhaps our child. There are many qualities of empathy to explore, but none are more important than how to support the empath child.
A child could be an empath if they become overwhelmed by loud noises or crowded environments; have a vivid imagination and love playing alone; experience physical symptoms like a stomach ache when fearful or nervous; exercise more caution than other kids; or have a sense of “knowing” about things.
According to psychiatrist and author Judith Orloff, M.D., the trademark of an empath is “feeling and absorbing other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of their high sensitivities.”
All children have the ability to feel empathy, but that does not necessarily make them an empath. An empath is more likely to be highly aware of the feelings and energies of the world around them. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Child, states, “A highly sensitive person is one who is aware of subtleties in the surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed.”
The empathic child is special in that they have a heightened perception of the world around them. In some cases, this can be overwhelming, but when managed and nurtured, these intuitive qualities can be a gift.
Without understanding and support, an empathic child may dread going to school, feel ill before social occasions or even exhibit symptoms of depression. If we sense that our child is an empath, we can support them in many ways. Here are a few suggestions.
Acknowledge the child’s feelings both physically and emotionally, even if they don’t seem to make sense. Empathic kids may feel pain or discomfort in an intensified way. Create a healthy environment that helps them to feel safe. That may mean staying out of loud, crowded and noisy places, choosing chemical-free foods and products and avoiding harsh people.
Create a bond of trust and nurturing that allows the child to be themselves without the influence of our expectations. Allow the child’s intuition to lead the way. Trust their ability to decide for themselves with a parental guide. Giving them choices and honoring their decisions empowers them to trust us and themselves. Foster the child’s internal relationship within themselves. Teaching them to trust in their choices will build confidence, self-esteem and creativity.
When managed and nurtured properly, being an empath can be a tremendous gift for a child. If we, as a parent, can nurture all the aspects of an empathic child, they can become empowered by learning to navigate through life trusting their intuition and senses.
Help the child learn to protect themselves from being overwhelmed and taking on energy from others using these strategies. The key is to support a child and accept their empathic qualities, so that the child can share their gifts with others.
Jennifer Cunnings, owner of My Heart Reiki, in Richardson, is a reiki master teacher and board-certified holistic health practitioner. For more information call 972-816-6299 or visit MyHeartReiki.com.