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:
  • Unexplained tantrums
  • Teenage-like moodiness
  • Extreme shifts in behavior
  • Emotionally distant or the appearance of "shutting down"
  • Difficulties focusing, especially in public or crowded places
  • Excessive shyness
While these signs can point to a variety of things, when paired with the parent's observation of patterns in behavior in relation to the child's surroundings, over time you may want to look into the possibility of empathic abilities in your child.

Listen and Accept
 
If you do suspect that your child is an empath, the best step you can take is to actively listen and offer sincere acceptance and validation to your child. Some of the feelings they experience can be overwhelming, frightening and confusing. Dealing with these large feelings on their own is very challenging for a child. By listening to what they are feeling and validating it rather than belittling it, dismissing it or writing it off as a behavior problem, you strengthen their ability to handle the feelings and give them the confidence they need to cope with them.

Acceptance is so important as they already feel weird and different among their peers. It is necessary to help them recognize that they have a unique gift (like a natural at baseball or a talented artist) and that they are not broken

Help Them Understand
 
Often times, empathic children are not fully aware of where their feelings are coming from. It can be difficult for parents to decipher it as well. All the signs listed above may come across as disobedient, difficult or moody, but by listening to your child and observing the situation, you can begin to pick up on cues that will help you both understand the sudden shifts or waves of emotion.

For example, if your child becomes angry for no apparent reason, consider your surroundings. You may notice a man upset with a cashier, a child not getting a toy they want, or even a grumpy face on a passerby. Point out your observations to your child. Tell them, "you may be picking up on their angry energy."

If the child protests and becomes more upset, don't push it. They may be genuinely upset and you can risk dismissing their emotions. By simply pointing it out, you can help them learn how to assess their emotions on many levels rather than just letting the feelings overtake or confuse them.

Teach Coping Skills
 
A helpful tool for all children, healthy emotional coping skills are very important in teaching a child that, not only are they responsible for their emotions, but that they can take control of them. Without appropriate coping skills, a child can become run by their feelings, stunting their emotional maturity. Because empathic children have to cope with their own emotions as well as those of others, coping skills are key to remaining balanced and emotionally mature.

Some examples of coping skills that will help your empathic child are:
After you help your child balance themselves emotionally, you can then return to listening and sharing your observations with your child. When they no longer feel overwhelmed with emotions, they can more clearly determine the cause of them, whether by sharing with you why they were upset or by recognizing that they may have been picking up on someone else's energy.

Living as an empath certainly poses many challenges that are hard for the non-empathic to understand, but even if you cannot understand what your child is going through, being there, supporting them and trusting in them will help them to learn about themselves and their gift as well as how to live a balanced life.

While the beginning of their journey may be rocky and confusing, as you navigate the waters together, over time they will become more emotionally stable and better able to control and cope with the overwhelming energies. Continue to listen, accept and give your child healthy coping skills and you will watch them flourish into amazingly gifted, emotionally mature adults.

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.

Since life without school is so abstract for so many, here I offer some techniques to get you started on your road to rethinking education and building confidence in your innate ability to teach yourself.

Avoid all things school. This is very important for children if they have been in a school setting. It is difficult to comprehend life without something if we are still immersed in it. Simply stepping away from school may not be enough. Instead, try to avoid anything that registers in your mind as "school-y," from textbooks and worksheets to PBS specials to science experiments. If your brain recognizes it as something from school, skip it unless you are absolutely enthralled and fascinated by it. Consider behaving as you would on a weekend or a school vacation, but do it all the time.

The important thing to remember is that there is no time line to this. Some children may need a year or two of genuinely doing nothing of importance. It can be hard for parents to handle this stage as fears of laziness set in. But that is where step two comes in.

Categorize everything into subjects. While you are actively avoiding all things school, try to look at everything you are doing and put a subject label on it. Math, science, history, language arts. Whatever subject you can apply to your actions, apply it. This will be hard at first because we are taught that subjects exist separate from everyday life. But after a couple of weeks of consciously labeling everything, it will flow so easily that you will find almost everything you do, from waking up to going to bed, is filled with subject labels.

Playing outside? Register the science lessons, physical education and team building. Video games? How about reading, problem solving, mathematics and even more science. Watching your favorite sitcom? Look for lessons right in the show: history, current events, social studies.

Everything you and your children do is filled with lessons if you actively look for them. Get really creativity and don't sell anything short. Try not to look for future applications or varying levels of importance but instead, just recognize the subjects at every moment.

Learn something new. To a schooled mentality, this may sound counter-intuitive to avoiding all things school but it is a very important step in deschooling oneself. Choosing something that you have always wanted to learn but never had the chance, whether it's knitting, learning a new language or building a model airplane, and then starting from scratch to figure out how to learn it will teach you so much about building confidence in your abilities. Searching for YouTube videos or articles, heading to the library to check out a how-to book or even buying the materials and jumping in head first are all ways we can educate ourselves about something new.

From making the choice about what you want to learn, taking all the steps to learn it and ultimately recognizing the knowledge (no matter how much or how little) you have gained are all steps that show you how you learn and that you can learn. It shows you that you can take control of your education and succeed. The more you attempt this, the more confidence you will gain and the more you will question why you ever thought you needed school at all.

Give it time. School is a very powerful mentality. Its existence relies completely on its ability to make us think that we need it. Not too long ago, no one thought it was a necessary tool to learn anything. Everyone had confidence in themselves to learn what they needed to know for life and centuries of history was proof of this. The basis of school is to falsely educate us that we need school.

Submerged in a society that believes this and after years of being taught this mentality, shaking it will not happen overnight. It can take weeks, months or even years to completely remove the mentality that we cannot learn all we need to know without school.

Anytime you waiver or question your own confidence in your abilities, start back at the beginning. Avoid school, categorize everything you are learning at every moment and, above all, actively learn something new. Overtime your confidence will explode, your abilities will flourish and your thirst and passion for more knowledge will fuel you day to day. From there you can enter the world of Unschooling.

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.

1. Balanced needs for refueling. An introvert feels stronger and happier when they are allowed to have their time alone just to think while extroverts require others to provide emotional fuel for them. In an introverted relationship, neither party requires such a heavy responsibility from their partner. Without the need for one to fuel another, they can both individually reach their level of comfort and bring that peace to the relationship.

2. Understanding. While an extrovert can certainly cater to an introvert's needs, they can never fully understand them. It is a wonderful gift to be involved with a partner who knows why you need to hide from the world occasionally without trying to change it or negotiate with it.

3. Varying intellectual conversations. Of course extroverts are just as capable of intelligent conversations, but with two introverts who enjoy reading and pondering over socializing, the range of deep conversations is much greater and ever-changing. Not to mention, the surprise turns and twists that can occur in a conversation when given the chance to think apart.

4. Every evening in. To most extroverts, this sounds like a negative thing but many introverts would be thrilled to spend more time at home on their couch or at least away from larger crowds or entertaining. When your partner is also an introvert, this is the norm. There is no need to put on an extroverted face when you just want to crash in the corner or ask your partner to forgo their evening of fun when you just aren't feeling it.

5. Solitude combined with togetherness. Few things are as amazing to an introvert as sitting quietly with their thoughts or a good book. But when paired with sharing this amazing experience with your partner, it becomes pure bliss. The need to escape and be separate to recuperate never requires you to be fully alone, allowing a much deeper bond to form.

While there are positives and negatives to every relationship, the introvert/extrovert combination that many feel they must seek is not set in stone. There are ample benefits to two introverts falling in love. So at the next social gathering, try looking at the wallflower with the book. You may find that opposites do not necessarily attract.

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.

A child is spanked because they did not clean their room when they were first asked.

A child is given a time out because they rolled their eyes when their parent asked them a question.

A child is spanked because they cried when they were upset about a decision they had no part in making.

A child has a toy taken away because they said no to something they did not want to do.

A child is punished because their attitude was deemed inappropriate by their parent.

When was the last time you were punished for any of the above? When was the last time someone brought physical harm to you when you did not clean your house, when you did not have the correct attitude or when you chose not to do something you did not want to do? Were you arrested? Were you hit? Were you even fined?

Many parents claim that this is the way children learn the consequences of the "real world." But in what world does the law require us to have a perfect attitude 100% of the time? In what world are we arrested for not cleaning our home or putting our stuff away on someone else's schedule? In what world are the punishments as severe as we dole out to our children regularly?

Our fears that our children will be law-breakers or nuisances to society have us actually punishing them for things that no adult would consider a crime. We are so worried about how our children will turn out that we punish them for simply being human.

As a society, we seem to have reached a point where punishing your child is first nature while asking yourself why you are doing it is an afterthought, if it occurs at all. Instead of looking at the end result or the motivation behind our own actions, we simply haul back and swat, telling ourselves it is for the best, without fully knowing whether or not it is.

If you spank, take away belongings or put your child in time out as punishment, perhaps it is time to look at what you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to teach them about real life consequences? If so, is the behavior they are exhibiting something that would actually produce such severe consequences to an adult?

Think about putting yourself in that situation. If you talked back to your spouse, would they slap you? If you didn't clean your house for a month, would it produce a fine? If you were not in a positive mood or expressed a negative emotion, would you be imprisoned on someone else's time schedule?

The reality is that you would not. None of these human behaviors are crimes. None of them produce such harsh punishments. So why are you treating your child this way? This is certainly not going to prepare them for the "real world" because the reality is that the "real world" is nothing like the childhood we create.

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 empaths.

An empath is a person who feels exactly what others feel. This is not to be mistaken with sympathy, which is trying to understand what someone is going through, or even the very similar word empathy, which is actually just being familiar with what someone else is experiencing. An empath literally feels exactly what someone else feels, even if they have never experienced, nor can they relate in any way to what the other person is going through.

These feelings are not only emotional, but can come about physically as well, taking on ailments, discomforts or pains someone else is feeling. An empath can be physically fit and healthy and suddenly feel shooting pains in their arm as they witness a sports injury. Or they can develop throbbing headaches if they know someone with frequent migraines. Sometimes the empath is not even aware of what is happening. They may have to lay down from excessive back pain when they are all alone in their living room only to discover a loved one miles away fell off a ladder.

What sounds like a sixth sense or some unknown clairvoyance is actually just basic science. Once someone discovers that they are, in fact, an empath, learning about the science of what is happening makes coping with this seemingly awful trait much easier, often times turning it into a well-loved gift.

Everything in life is energy and thus exudes energy in waves. Most go through life completely oblivious to these energies, or only feeling them at smaller frequencies due to lessened sensitivity. INFJs, however, tend to be extremely sensitive, heightening their response to these energies even if they are not aware of it.

When someone near you experiences an emotion, that emotion is emitted from them as an invisible energy wave. The level of the emotion can affect how strong the wave is. The average person would not be drastically affected by this wave unless it was at a very high level, whereas an INFJ or empath, would have a very strong reaction and often will absorb this energy as their own.

The closer one is relationally, the more heightened the sensitivity to their energy waves. If someone in the grocery store down the street stubbed their toe, an empath may be none the wiser. Whereas if their child did the same thing in the same location, the empath would be so finely tuned (even unknowingly) to their child's energy waves that they could feel a minor pain in the same toe.

There was actually a study which showed a dog's awareness of its owner's intentions to come home despite the large distance between them. Dogs, known to be much more sensitive and hyperaware than humans, can pick up on the energy waves sent by their owners from a great distance, affecting their behavior and giving them insight about the owner's actions at the precise time the owner makes a decision.

The same is true for some humans. While not all INFJs have the same level of heightened sensitivity, and they are certainly not the only type capable of being an empath, they are the most likely type to exhibit empathic abilities because of how sensitive they are to those around them.

I strongly recommend any INFJ who has discovered their personality type to look into empathic abilities further as it may offer many answers to the difficulties life poses. Once you discover your ability and understand exactly what is occurring physically through energy waves, your gift becomes much easier to cope with and even possible to control.

5 Reasons Why You Should Practice Prenatal Yoga




While yoga has become wildly popular amongst all ages, genders and lifestyles, the benefits of this mind and body exercise on a pregnant woman and her unborn child are almost unsurpassed.

Many women may try to avoid yoga, especially in the later parts of their pregnancy when just getting off the couch sounds like a challenge, but there are so many reasons why the bigger your belly gets, the more you should incorporate some daily poses.


  1. Bringing some peace. No matter what your current lifestyle, pregnancy amplifies any difficulties by ten. Whether you have other children running around requiring the vast majority of your brain power and energy, a taxing job that expects a solid forty hours or more, or even just spending your days at home trying to keep a house running, there are days when pregnancy makes life seem unbearable. By practicing yoga for just fifteen minutes a day, we can slow our minds, calm our bodies and just get to enjoy being pregnant in the midst of all the chaos.
  2. A sound mind. Pregnancy-brain is no stranger to anyone who has bore a child. The change in hormones, shift in blood volume and obsession with mothering an infant can all take a toll on your brain, leaving you feeling foggy and confused. Yoga helps balance our hormones, even during some of the major shifts, lowers our blood pressure and focuses our minds. By hitting the mat, you can reap the benefits of clarity that come with many of the poses.
  3. Endurance. While sitting on the couch with our swollen ankles propped as high as we can manage sounds like a dream come true, it actually just makes the pregnancy more challenging as the months creep by. Starting yoga from the moment you see those two pink lines on the stick will lessen morning sickness, increase energy and strengthen muscles you forgot you had. Each of these benefits will make the grueling first trimester and the exhausting third trimester much more manageable.
  4. Labor preparation. No matter what type of birth you plan to have (medicated, natural, or scheduled cesarean), prenatal yoga is key to helping you through the birth as well as the recovery. Yoga helps to widen the hips, strengthen the pelvis and prepare your body for the physical strength and stamina that is so important for a vaginal birth. There are also ample benefits if you are looking toward a cesarean like strengthening your abdominal muscles, calming your breathing and boosting your immune system.
  5. Getting your body back. Pregnancy can take a physical toll on your body and many women have the plan of letting themselves go and then pushing full swing after the baby is born. This rarely works as the body is left weak and exhausted. By practicing prenatal yoga, your body will remain strong and prepared to tackle the difficult task of regaining your pre-baby figure making the process take weeks instead of months or years.
No matter what type of pregnancy you have, striving to practice yoga for fifteen minutes at least three times a week throughout the entire nine months will offer you so many benefits. The upside is that even on those difficult days, laying and sitting poses offer just as many benefits as the strenuous standing and balancing ones. So grab your mat, your comfiest pair of maternity sweats, a bottle of water and give yourself and your baby the benefits of this miraculous exercise!
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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 .