Most adults are pretty attuned to their own emotions, but children aren’t.
They’re experiencing many things for the first time, and their little worlds are maelstroms of emotions that they can’t really understand.
This is magnified a thousandfold for young empaths.
Since they can have such difficulty understanding their own feelings, it can be incredibly hard for empathic children to comprehend that the emotions they’re feeling aren’t always their own.
If you’re an empath, you can probably intuit if your child is too.
That said, people who aren’t might have difficulty recognizing empathic abilities in their kids, let alone figuring out how to support them.
Hopefully this article can provide a bit of a guideline, and offer some helpful tips that can ease the way for all of you.
How Can You Tell If Your Child Is An Empath?
Most children exhibit some degree of spiritual-psychic attunement with their peers, but some are far more empathic than others.
The traits listed below are just a few ways to determine where your kids’ abilities lie.
1. Highly Sensitive Or “On The Spectrum”
First and foremost, they may have been diagnosed as being highly sensitive, whether by teachers or child psychologists.
It may have even been suggested that they have sensory processing issues or autism spectrum disorder.
Not only are empathic children incredibly sensitive to the energies around them, they’re usually sensitive to all kinds of sensory stimuli.
Many have a wide range of food allergies. Others might break out in hives when their skin comes in contact with certain fabrics or detergents.
Tips: Rather than just dismissing their sensitivities, please try to honor and respect them.
Instead of forcing them to wear a scratchy sweater that makes them freak out, even if it’s to please the grandparent who knitted it, understand that it makes them feel awful. Let them choose their own clothing.
If they have issues with certain foods, determine what these issues are, and make compromises.
Do they like to crunch, but dislike anything slimy? You can work with that. Etc.
2. Overwhelmed By Stimuli
Imagine all of your senses being assaulted in one go, on a constant basis.
In a crowd of people, you wouldn’t just be “aware” that there are a lot of folks milling around you…
You’d hear every word of every conversation, smell every perfume, and sense all the emotions that those other people are feeling.
All at once. At full volume.
Empathic children in particular can get overwhelmed easily, especially in crowded, public spaces or when too much is going on around them at once.
This causes a sensory overload that will either make them have a shrieking meltdown, or numb out/disassociate just to get through it.
Tips: Get to know their triggers, and help to reduce them as much as possible.
Furthermore, teach them mindfulness meditation so they know how to ground and center themselves when they start spiralling from all the overwhelming everything.
Leave room in their busy schedules for decompression time, and make sure they have a dedicated quiet space to retreat to.
Setting up a small tent in their room can be a great little “nest” for them. Let them fill it with soft textures and soothing toys, and please don’t disturb them when they’re in there.
They’ll come out when they’re able to.
3. They Cry When Others Are Hurt Or Upset
This is a trait that most empaths can relate to, and tends to show up in infancy.
Does your child cry when they see others – human or animal companions – get hurt or upset?
Do they rush to comfort those who are crying?
Most babies instinctively try to comfort and soothe others who are upset, and this trait can either lessen or intensify as they get older.
Some toddlers will become very self-involved, while others maintain their empathetic hypersensitivity.
Tips: Teach your kids the 5 senses meditation when they’re mirroring other people’s hurts and being affected by them.
Kids are drawn to the natural world, and love to explore it. After all, there’s so much to see! And smell!
Being out in nature is immensely calming, and everyone can benefit from a bit more exercise out in the fresh air and sunshine, right?
Children who spend a lot of time outdoors are naturally drawn to environmental stewardship, animal rights activism, and gardening.
They love to grow things, nurture life, and observe wonderful animals in their natural habitats.
Empathic children in particular get recharged by sticking their hands in soil, playing in water, and even snuggling up to trees.
Tips: Try to make outdoor adventures a regular occurrence.
If you have a backyard, help your kids set up a pint-sized veggie or herb garden just for them.
Plant butterfly- and bird-friendly wildflowers, hang hummingbird feeders, and set out water for frogs and toads.
If you’re an urban apartment dweller, take advantage of children’s outdoor programs at local parks and botanical gardens.
Get out of the city for hikes or camping trips whenever possible, and get engaged in subjects your child is interested in.
Do they like to stargaze? Grab a telescope and learn about constellations together.
Are they natural healers? Take a child-friendly herbal medicine course and do some responsible foraging.
10. Avid Readers Or Information Sponges
Is your child interested in just about everything? Does he or she get fascinated by a topic and want to learn everything there is to know about it?
That’s a very common trait in empaths, and starts as soon as they can raise their heads on their own.
Everything is miraculous, everything is fascinating, and there’s so much to learn!
Your child might start reading at a very young age, and demand frequent library visits so they can plow through everything available on their subject of choice.
Alternatively, especially if they have a learning disability, they might really love nature or history documentaries.
Tips: Encourage this whenever possible.
If the topics that engage them the most aren’t of interest to you, that’s okay: be honest with them about it, and encourage them to explore these options on their own, or with peers (and/or extended family members) who have similar interests.
11. They Need A Lot of Alone Time
Just like adult empaths, kid-sized versions crave (and revel in) solitude.
They’re unlikely to ever get bored, because how could they?!
Many of these children don’t just like being alone, they need that alone time for numerous reasons.
As mentioned before, if they’ve had meltdowns or numbness because of sensory overload, quiet alone time is absolutely vital for them to recharge.
Think of it like the time skin takes to heal after a burn or a cut.
Tips: Please don’t reprimand them for being “antisocial,” or demand that they be more engaged with other people.
You can’t draw blood from a stone.
Adults who are completely drained after harrowing days at work can express that they need silence and solitude, and have their wishes respected.
Kids are basically at the mercy of the adults around them, and feel like they have to cave to demands for social activity or else they’ll be punished.
Please respect their need for solitude and recognize that it has nothing to do with you, and there’s nothing “wrong” with them.
You aren’t being rejected, and it’s not unhealthy for them to want alone time instead of playing with other children.
Chances are your kids will appreciate you a lot more for defending their alone time.
12. Vivid Dreamers
The vivid – often lucid – dreams that many empaths experience often begin when they’re very young.
These might be really intense, with clairvoyant clairsentient aspects, or may manifest as night terrors.
Either way, whether the dreams are wonderful or terrifying, they can affect empathic children very strongly.
Tips: Keeping a dream journal is a great way for kids to process the imagery they’ve seen, and they can look back over time to see which themes or images have been recurring.
Many empaths are also very claircognizant or clairvoyant, and it’s not unusual for their dreams to come true.
This often begins in childhood, and can be intriguing and scary to kids at turns.
By keeping a journal, you can record dreams together and refer back to them if and when they come to pass.
If they do come true, please reassure the child that there’s nothing wrong with them, but that they have a beautiful gift.
Positive reinforcement, again and again.
13. They Know When People Are Lying
There’s no way anyone can lie to these kids: they know immediately when someone’s full of crap.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.