Before my daughter was born, my sister entered the estimated due date and birth information into an online astrological chart generator.
I can’t remember what most of the results said, but I do remember one thing.
The astrological chart for my daughter said she would be very, very empathic and sensitive. It said she would be emotional and would become easily upset.
As I was preparing for new motherhood, this made me nervous. How would I handle her mood swings? I didn’t want to upset her.
What. was I going to do?!
According to the astrological chart, I was about to bring a sensitive, overly emotional, and highly empathic child into the world. I didn’t want to mess it up!
Welp, I can validate that she definitely turned out to be highly intuitive and empathic child.
And when she gets upset, we know that there’s usually one thing that will stop a tantrum or a meltdown quickly.
Acknowledging, addressing, and talking about where the feelings are coming from and what they are is the near surefire way to stop an epic meltdown.
Even as adults, intuitive empaths very easily absorb emotions and energy of others, causing distress, worry, and overall not so great feelings.
Now, imagine you’re a child with the intuitive ability of empathy (clairsentience) and a sensitivity to emotions of both yourself and others.
Children don’t have the coping skills yet to handle this influx of emotion. Heck, most adults struggle with this too.
Rather than patting someone on the back, adult or child, and saying everything will be okay, it always helps if your fears and worries are directly addressed and discussed, rather than dismissed.
Because we’re raising a child who will eventually be an adult, this is the strategy we chose to adopt with our daughter early on.
Here's how we did it:
Instead of handling a meltdown by telling our daughter that “everything is fine,” or “that it’s not a big deal,” or just to “calm down,” we immediately get down on her level, and ask what it is that’s bothering her.
We started doing this before she could even speak and just continued. If she couldn’t verbalize how she was feeling, we tried to see the situation from her perspective and assign emotions to what she may have been experiencing.
For example, we’d ask questions like,
“Are you upset because you’re frustrated that you can’t have. . . ?”
“Are you angry that we won’t let you . . . ?”
“Are you feeling scared or nervous?”
At around the age of 2 or 2.5, we started converting to opened ended questions (“What’s wrong? Why are you feeling upset?”) to see if she could tell us why exactly she was feeling upset. Pretty soon, we started getting answers.
“I’m really nervous”
Then, we’d talk about it.
We’d acknowledge why she was upset and discuss her feelings and our feelings on the situation.
As we spoke, it seemed to dawn on her that we were acknowledging, validating, and valuing how she was feeling. Her tears would stop flowing, she’d start sniffling, and slowly nod her head as the conversation proceeded.
The key to stopping a meltdown with our intuitive child is to acknowledge, validate, and discuss where the emotions are coming from.
For our daughter, as soon as she realizes that she’s being heard, she’s immediately calmed.
And isn’t that so for just about anyone? If you’re upset and you realize that instead of being brushed off and ignored, your feelings are actually being heard, you feel better, right?
One of the keys to managing an empathic gift, in general, is to acknowledge your emotions and identify their source. This is called discernment, and it helps adults manage their emotional state more effectively, too. If we can help our children learn to acknowledge their emotions and see them for what they are at an early age - we’re setting them up for greater emotional stability as they grow up. Adults can learn to do this for themselves, but sometimes, it helps to have an outside source acknowledge your feelings as valid.
Parenting an intuitive, empathic child does have its challenges, but it also teaches us to be better listeners and to be more understanding of another person’s emotional experience.
As parents, we can teach our children that their emotional experience is being heard. When we do this, we’re showing our kids that they have value and that their feelings are important too.
One of the greatest challenges of an empath is having and maintaining a distinct emotional existence outside of the crowd, one that is valued and recognized, both internally and externally. This challenge starts at birth with an intuitive, empathic child.
It’s our job to show the way.
LAST UPDATED: November 11, 2015