Empaths are connected to the world in a beautiful, yet misunderstood way. My journey as an empathic person has not always been easy, but I now know, my path had a purpose.
Acutely aware and highly sensitive, her five senses are always on fire. Loud noises, bright lights, new people, and anything outside of mama's arms, was not welcome for quite some time and we still have moments. If I wasn't a teacher and empathic person myself, I might have believed what others were saying about my child. I knew better though, I knew that she was born full of empathy.
Unfortunately, empathic children are often misunderstood and labeled in many ways. Antisocial, shy, overly sensitive, anxious...sadly the inaccurate list goes on and on. My words, this post, will hopefully help others that have an empathic child or work with children that are empathic.
When you have an empathic child, some will judge and miss the beauty in what they have to offer. For my little one, what is often missed is how deep in thought she is, how her body is taking in the emotions of those around her and trying to process it all. How she is a toddler, but experiences the world in a very mature manner. Her quiet nature is not because she is anti social, it's because she's in tune with what many miss. She feels the hurt or happiness of those she is near. She feels your desire to have to respond to you, but she needs time. Her intuitive comments about those around her were once surprising, but are now a gift and something that I look forward to. She feels safest when she is with those she knows and not in a crowd. Crowds have lots of energy and it's absorb by empathetic people. She feels things deeply and taking time to respect her strong emotions is all she needs to find her balance. Her ability to listen, understand and truly get to know someone is beyond her age and while it's a blessing, it can also lead to worry as she questions what she knows and carries it with her. While she is a lover of books, anything scary (the bees in Winnie the Pooh 😊) makes her tremble and she has pages memorized so we can skip them. It seems simple, but it's not. Our days aren't always easy, like everyone else, we have struggles. Her pull to all things nature can be felt; it's an energy that radiates from her. She observes, watches and has a deep love for animals. When an animal doesn't want anything to do with her, she doesn't understand and battles this internally and ask me "Why mama?" Over and over. We "rescue" all the stuffed animals we can and I have to laugh because I swore I would not have a stuffed animal collection in my house...
The hardest thing for me as a mom has been how aware she is, not only aware of everything, but aware of how she is different. She knows she isn't like some of her friends, she tells me. We talk about being unique and how that's beautiful, but I worry that this consumes her when we play with other children. This is where I find myself feeling overwhelmed at times. Finding ways to support her as a parent has been key. Knowing my child and not letting the judgement of others push me to do things I know aren't right for her is everything! I know now that a day filled with too much, is too much. A day with no true mental break, will end in a rough night. Too many days out with friends will mentally exhaust her. I have learned when to push and when to protect.
If you're parenting or teaching an empathic child don't try to fit in with the crowd. Multiple playdates a week, is going to lead to lots of struggle. Constant crowds and little exposure to nature will leave your child feeling heavy. Sleep... That's been a learning curve. Empathic children often need time to free all that they have stored before they are able to rest.
Knowing your child's unique triggers and responding instead of reacting, will save you both. An empathic child needs to know that their emotions are safe. Saying "Stop crying, stop screaming or your reaction isn't necessary..." is only going to escalate the situation. This applies to all children, but it's even more important to avoid these words with a empathic child. Let them know they are safe. And for those supporting their child, remember to breathe and embrace your child for who they are, not what others think they should be.
Learning to see through the eyes of an empathic child, is not easy, but it's beautiful and makes sense once your eyes are adjusted. Hugs to all those raising children full of empathy!