Supporting and Empowering Empath Children
Over the weekend, founder and director of White Light, Christie, presented a talk in the Speakers Lounge at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in Melbourne. If you’d like to watch the live video, it was posted on our Facebook page. Due to background noise, the sound quality isn’t the greatest, however we have had a lot of requests for the content of this talk, and so we have provided the basis of this presentation here for you.
Christie is the author of ‘Being an Empath Kid’, and the soon to be released, ‘Journey of an Empath’, which is a collection of real stories from Empaths around the world. The purpose of this presentation was to discuss what it means to be an Empath, how to recognise this gift in children, and to give people some tools and tips for helping the little ones in their lives to manage this gift.
We’re sure you can agree that Empath or not, we all want to see children thrive; to grow up as empowered and emotionally healthy individuals.
For almost ten years, Christie was an early childhood educator and childcare centre director, and she always had a passion for children’s emotional well-being, and often found when working with children, that she was especially drawn to those children who she now knows, were Empaths.
Christie is a Mum of three. She has two sons - a 14 year old and 4 year old, and a daughter who is 2 years old. Both of her sons are Empaths and so is she, and so she has quite a bit of experience of what it’s like to live with this incredible gift, as well as both the challenges and rewards that come with parenting two boys with the very same gift.
You will find a brief questionnaire here. Feel free to answer the questions based on your own child or a little one who you’re close to, or even on yourself. After all, you were a child once, and while this presentation is mainly focused on empowering and supporting children who are Empaths, it is all relevant to adults as well.
So, what does it mean to be an Empath? It’s important first of all, to keep in mind that being empathetic and empathic are two different things.
Being empathetic is not an unusual thing. Most humans have empathy. It means that you can relate to what someone else may be feeling, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in a situation (for example, if a friend is nervous about standing up in front of a group people, you might recall what that felt like when you had to do the same thing, and so you empathise with them).
An Empath on the other hand, is a highly sensitive person who can deeply perceive emotions of others, and feel what they feel. An Empath tunes in to others’ emotions and energy intuitively – without even trying. Being empathic is like being a magnet. You attract the energy and emotions of people, places, situations to you, and you absorb it all as your own. And, you don’t even need to be in the same vicinity to do so.
Now, let’s go through these questions, shall we? This list is very limited – there are many more traits we could have listed, and just like any individual, the qualities will differ from person to person. This is a brief guide, though. How many of the qualities listed here sound familiar to you? If there are more than half, then it’s very likely your child is an Empath, and once you understand more about what this means, we’re sure you will have plenty of ‘aha’ moments, just like Christie did.
The main challenge we have as Empaths is how to differentiate our emotions and energy from those of others, and simply having an understanding of this makes a massive difference in being able to manage this gift effectively. If we can help children to notice the difference between what is theirs, and what is not, then we will be well on our way to eliminating a lot of unnecessary emotional and mental confusion, imbalance and suffering. More often than not, as Empaths, we are carrying around so much of other people’s ‘stuff’ that we aren’t even aware of, and this is why we become exhausted, sick, irritable, and even depressed or anxious.
As an example, Christie talks about her 14 year old son, Brendon:
“He is such a sensitive, kind soul, and growing up, he has been bullied, taunted for being ‘over-emotional’, called a ‘sook’, and so forth. He is one of these children who is a natural counsellor. At school, he is sought out for advice, or just to be listened to (especially from the girls) because he is non-judgmental, and genuinely cares and nurtures them. He understands and can relate to anyone’s situation. It’s just who he is. But, it’s more than that. These children are probably feeling an awful lot better after being in my son’s presence, because he is taking some of their negative energy away from them, without even being consciously aware of it. For quite some time, my son suffered from depression. Now, of course, I can attribute much of that to the bullying, however, he was also likely carrying around so much negative energy and emotions from the people he was surrounded by, that it all became too much for him. Thankfully, being an Empath myself, I am aware of what it feels like, and have learnt how to manage it, and so I was able to give my son guidance and support in how he can best manage this gift himself, and I am proud to say that he is so much more in tune with his own emotions nowadays, that depression is something he has overcome. He still continues to counsel his peers (and strangers, at times), but now, he does so in a healthy way – ensuring his own wellbeing is priority.”
So, how can we help to support and empower these amazing empathic children?
As an Empath, it helps to know that someone understands and believes in your gift. Christie shares, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with parents who have no idea about what being an Empath is, and the children are usually one of two things: completely withdrawn because they think something’s wrong with them, or the opposite – acting out because they are so confused and don’t know what to do with the energy they’ve absorbed.” It’s always important that children’s feelings are acknowledged, but when they are Empaths, it’s needed even more. They need to know that someone believes them and understands what they’re going through.
Children as Empaths need space. Space to be themselves, space to safely and securely express themselves, and just space to be. Having a quiet, peaceful sacred space of their own is important, and they need to know that they’re free to just be, if that’s what they feel like doing. If life is too busy, they won’t have time to process their emotions, and because they’re not only dealing with their own energy and feelings, this is especially important so that they can re-centre. It also becomes very confusing when you’re soaking up all this energy, and space is needed to sift through what’s theirs and what’s not.
As with anyone, don’t ever underestimate the power of active listening. Don’t listen just to respond, or brush off children’s feelings and comments as overdramatic. What your child is feeling is very real, and they need to be heard. Christie says that being a parent of three, she knows how difficult it can be to find time to just sit and listen, but she always makes sure she does. “As an Empath myself, most of the time, I don’t even need to ask my children if they want to talk or need comfort – I just know intuitively (one of the amazing rewards of being an Empath parent).” Be patient, and allow your child to get whatever they need to get out, out. Sometimes, having you listen is all they need to release the energy they’re carrying.
Expression is a sure-fire way to help your child process their emotions and release them at the same time. It may be through talking, but there are so many other ways they can do this. Creativity is so very powerful, and because we use the right side of our brain when being creative, it means we are using our intuition, which helps release negative energy and replaces it with feelings of positivity and joy. The choices are endless, but for example, your child may paint, draw, sing, play an instrument, dance, sculpt, write. Any of these things are going to be extremely helpful, and they get to do what they’re passionate about in the process.
There are lots of different ways of grounding, and whichever method you choose, it’s important to know that grounding is absolutely vital for Empaths. Spending time in nature – walking barefoot, swimming or being around water, or just playing outdoors. Meditation and breathing exercises, yoga. Use crystals – black tourmaline and rose quartz are great ones to carry around or pop in your pillowcase. Drinking plenty of water is essential.
Finding out as much as you can about management techniques for Empaths is key, and passing this information onto your children is what is going to help them as they grow up. There is so much information out there about this on the internet, and in books. It’s usually not enough to just pass on the information, though. Do yoga or breathing exercises with your child. Spend time talking about what they’re feeling, and what it means. Give them visualisations of what it means to differentiate their energy from that of others. Draw pictures together. The teachable moments are endless, and the more energy you give to helping your child understand this gift, the better equipped they will be to use it for what it is intended – as a gift; not a burden.
Reassure your child that they have the freedom to ask questions (no matter how crazy they may seem), because they’ll likely have lots of them. And, if you don’t have the answer, find out together. In doing so, it’s a wonderful opportunity for you to share learning more about what it means to be an Empath, and you’ll both likely have a better understanding because of it. Don’t be afraid to ask your child questions in return, too. You can encourage your child to see this gift as something that’s really very special about them, and by asking questions, it will show them that you are genuinely interested.