Parenting an Empathic Child: Tips for Recognizing and Coping With an Empathic Child


Recognizing an empathic child can be quite a challenge, especially if you are not an empath yourself. Often times their abilities go overlooked and they are left to cope with overwhelming emotions and a lifetime of feeling broken.

When we as parents are able to recognize the signs that our child may have empathic abilities, we can set them up for a lifetime of wholeness and success, despite the challenges they may face.

Know What to Look For

The younger the child is, the more difficult it will be to determine whether or not they are an empath. Some signs to look for are:  Read More...

 

How to Deschool So You Can Unschool



Unschooling can be a difficult concept to wrap one's mind around, especially if they have not yet "deschooled." Since most people spent their youth traditionally schooled, whether within schools walls or homeschooled with a curriculum, it is hard to comprehend what life without school would be like, let alone attempt to live it. The deschooling process is the act of relearning how we learn in order to recognize that school is not, in fact, the only way to do so.

Deschooling is a process that is important for both parents and children. If your children have never been to school, the process will lie mainly within yourself. However, if your children have attended school, even for a year, then it should be a mutual process of deschooling together.

The ultimate goal of deschooling is to recognize that you are built to learn on your own and do not need teachers, curriculum or specific guidance in order to fill your mind with the wondrous knowledge the world has to offer.  Read More...

5 Reasons Why Introverted Relationships Work




Everyone is familiar with the age-old saying that "opposites attract." There is a certain catchiness to it that lures in those who are looking for relationship advice. But it may not always be true.

When it comes to the introverts and extroverts, a lot of relationship advice pushes the dynamic duo, bringing the introvert out of their shell and toning down the extrovert. But what if the opposite were true? What if the combination, for some, was actually more detrimental?

As an introvert madly in love with an introvert, I can strongly vouch for why the introverted relationship works so well. Here are five main reasons why I would encourage an introvert looking for love to not rule out the idea that opposites don't always attract.  Read More...

Why Do You Punish Your Child?




Children today have it pretty rough. We ask them to carry loads that most adults could not fathom, from grueling school and homework schedules to perfect attitudes and behavior at all times.

On top of the overwhelming responsibilities, they must carry around fear of punishments for things no adults would ever be punished for. And for what?

No parent ever wants to see their child fail or become an unproductive member of society. This fear of what our children will become fuels our daily parenting choices and styles. And the children are the ones who pay for these fears.

The worry that our children will turn to crime has us punishing them any time we consider their behavior less than perfect.  Read More...

When Your Child Can’t Speak

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Young Children

The idea of anyone bringing harm to a young child is heart-wrenching for parents everywhere. But the reality is that child molesters do target younger children, including infants and toddlers. Sometimes the abuse is ongoing and since the child cannot speak, it continues until they are older making disclosure more and more rare as, to the child, it has become an accepted part of life.

While discovering sexual abuse in a child who has yet to reach speaking age can be difficult, it is not impossible. These children often show signs of the abuse even if they cannot vocalize what is occurring. If you notice any of the following signs, especially if it is more than one, than it may be possible that your young child is being molested.

Yeast or Staph Infections. There are a few reasons why a diaper-wearing infant or toddler may have frequent yeast or staph infections and so it should never go unexamined. But young females who are being molested are at great risk of these infections. If your child has been left alone with someone (even if you do not think they have molested your child) and develops a yeast infection, bring them to the pediatrician immediately. Let them know you have a concern that the infection was brought about by physical touch and have them examine the child.

There may not be any initial evidence or signs of trauma but if the infections continue, it is very important to have a thorough exam. Yeast and staph infections should never be overlooked or taken lightly as they can be an important sign of something wrong.

Clenching or cringing during diaper changes. Since most babies wear diapers from birth, the act of having their diaper changed is second nature to them and so there should be no reason for distress. If your child tends to clench their legs tightly together or cringe from a gentle touch of a baby wipe, this could be an important sign of previous trauma. While some children do not like diaper changes, especially toddlers, and try to squirm or run, there still should be no reason for clenching or cringing from fear.

If your child has had a recent diaper rash or infection, this may cause temporary cringing so do not panic if it happens once or twice. But if each diaper change seems to bring about discomfort or fear for your child, this may be a key sign of sexual abuse.

Tantrums or acting out. Not all children who are being abused will have a drastic change in behavior, especially if it has been a part of their lives since infancy. However, in most cases the abuse is still paired with threats, emotional abuse and even physical pain, causing the child to act out if they know they are about to be subjected to it.

If your child is having temper tantrums, acting out, excessively crying, or trying to run away from a situation, do not overlook it as normal behavior for a toddler. Instead, look for patterns. Do these behaviors come about in a specific location like a bedroom, bathroom or someone else's home? Do they often act up around a certain person, relative or babysitter? Do key words, actions or events trigger strong responses?

Try to listen closely to your child's protests or behaviors. If you see patterns, then something, even if it is not related to sexual abuse, needs to be addressed. Punishing your child for expressing their emotions will only cause them to stop communicating which will cause many more problems in the future.

Low self-esteem or unwillingness to try. From the moment a child is born they are learning and trying out new behaviors. Infants search for body parts, babies attempt to mobilize and toddlers start building, creating and even talking. They are able to learn and practice these new skills when they feel safe. If they feel fearful, the parts of the brain that allow for this growth are stunted by the amygdala (emotion-driven part of the brain) causing this learning to cease.

Young children who are being molested are often overtaken by their amygdala due to the physical and emotional traumas. In these cases, they can be further behind physically and mentally. In infants, this could come across as limited development while in toddlers, they may begin to show signs of poor self-esteem and unwillingness to try new things. Hopelessness and negativity may become common in their day to day lives, inhibiting their development.

If you suspect your child is not developing properly and is showing no signs of improvement, as in the case of behavior changes, look for patterns. Does their behavior change when in a certain place? Are they less likely to try new things or even pursue tasks they used to enjoy when around a specific person?

Low self-esteem is always a sign of something wrong, so do not dismiss it as a personality trait. Be sure to have your child checked out to rule out different possibilities.

Your intuition. Odds are you are reading this article because you suspect something may be wrong with your child. Perhaps you already have a potential perpetrator in mind. That intuition should never be ignored. You have those feelings for a reason. Considering the idea that your child is being harmed by someone close to you is a frightening thought that may be easier to brush off than to address. Fears of false accusations, tearing families apart or making poor choices are overwhelming enough to cause you to ignore obvious signs that you may regret later.

If you have any of these feelings, then something is going on. Fear of harm to your children is normal, but if it has sent you looking for these signs to validate what you are feeling, then it goes beyond just a fear. Any damage done through a potential false accusation is nothing compared to the damage that would be done if you ignore the truth.

Each of these signs can be explained by events other than child abuse, but when several signs are present paired with your parental intuition, then they need to be addressed immediately. If these signs sound familiar and your intuition is strongly pulling at your heart, it is time to take action to protect your children. Contact your pediatrician or Child Protective Services immediately.

Trust yourself. Trust your child's behaviors. It will be the most important thing you ever do for your child.

For more information on possible signs of sexual abuse, please visit Mothers of Sexually Abused Children and for information on how to help keep your children safe, please visit Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse.

The INFJ Empath Explained




INFJs often struggle with certain aspects of life without ever fully understanding why. Many times they know they are more sensitive than others (I would be shocked to find an INFJ who has not been told to "stop being so sensitive" on more than one occasion), but they may not understand why. This can lead them to look at this sensitivity as a flaw or a piece of them to be fixed.

The reality is that INFJs do tend to be more sensitive than the majority of the population. This sensitivity shows in many facets of their life, varying in intensity from person to person. Many report not being able to watch horror films or news programs because they struggle with handling the negative emotions. Others seem to have many physical ailments, frequenting doctors to figure out exactly what is wrong, only to begin to believe they are hypochondriacs.

These people can go through life constantly wondering what is wrong with them and how they can fix it, without ever fully understanding what is occurring.  They are empathsRead More...

Social Anxiety: The Invisible Struggle




I struggle with social anxiety. It took me many years to realize that the fear, worry, illness and overall terror that I would feel from even the simplest social situation actually had a diagnosis. For most of my life, I just thought I was shy or had poor social skills. Never did I realize what the true problem was and so I suffered silently, hoping people would just leave me alone.

Only recently have I come to discover the truth that has started me on my road to healing. Social anxiety is a very real illness that millions suffer through, silent and alone. It is a mental disorder that can strongly interfere with a person's relationships, career and overall life.

There are so many aspects of social anxiety that make it an extremely difficult illness to cope with, but the hardest part, as is the case with many mental illnesses, is that it is invisible.

No one can look at you and see the problem. They cannot know the physical symptoms and emotional turmoil with which you suffer day in and day out. They have no idea of the amount of energy it takes you to muster the strength to leave the house some days.

Shy. Timid. Anti-social. Recluse. Rude. Arrogant. Self-involved.

All the words one with social anxiety hears often. Either we are viewed as broken and sad, taken on as cases that need to be fixed. Assumed that we just need to be pushed harder to interact, to come out of our shell. Or we are viewed as cold and elusive, perceiving our silence and seclusion as a personal attack or an uncaringness.

No one sees the truth. No one sees the longing to reach out, to socialize and to converse. To join in at the gatherings and have carefree chats, making friends and acquaintances easily.

They don't feel your heart beating faster with their approach. They don't see your stomach churning and stance tightening. They can't know of the light-headedness and faintness that overcomes you. They don't hear the thoughts racing through your mind, barely discernible even to yourself.

As your spouse hands you the phone to speak with your father-in-law, on the other end of the line, he is unaware of the terror surging through your body. The limited speech comes not out of dislike or disinterest. He can't possible know the depth with which you long to reach out and connect. All he receives is the short and quick responses and extreme desire to get off the phone.

When a friend invites you to a gathering, they aren't aware of the dread that fills you. They don't know of the sleep you lose in anticipation of the event nor the countless hours you spend in fear awaiting what should be a positive experience. And when you finally decide to back out, they don't feel the sadness that plagues you for missing yet another event because of the anxiety. All they know is, once again, you are not there.

Social anxiety is a very real thing that makes life challenging in so many different ways. It is not something one chooses just as no one would choose a physical handicap or disease. But what makes it so much harder is, when we cope well, the illusion that we are fine or when our coping skills fail, the assumption that we are broken.

We just try to get through each social moment without a full blown panic attack. And with each attempt, hopefully it gets better. Hopefully we can make more people understand. Hopefully one day we can pick up a phone without crippling fear or saunter up to the packed bar at the next party. Hopefully.

Author

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Jennifer Soldner is the author of A Look Inside a Rare Mind: An INFJ's Journal Through Personal Discovery. She is the founder of INFJ Anonymous, a website devoted to helping other INFJs along their path of personal discovery as well as Joyfully Freefalling. An INFJ, Empath and Highly Sensitive Person, she is also the author of the wildly popular article Top 10 Things Every INFJ Wants You to Know. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and .