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Do You Have A Highly Intuitive Child?

by Catherine Crawford

Do you have a highly intuitive child? Read the following 10 traits and check those that apply to your child.

My child has a way of finishing my sentences and reading my thoughts.

She has an ability to "see" things before they happen and is surprised that other people respond to her predictions with amazement.

My child frequently translates the needs of younger siblings and pets for me and is surprisingly perceptive.

Noisy, crowded events agitate him and it takes him a long time to bounce back after such disruptions.

My child "catches" others' emotions or upset moods almost like a cold.

He is prone to headaches and stomachaches related to other people's stress.

My child feels tension during traumatic world events, maybe even drawing pictures of them or spontaneously talking about them with no knowledge of the events.

It is hard to keep a secret or surprise from her--she routinely guesses her birthday presents, for example.

My child has a tendency to have insights about other people and the world that outpace developmental norms.

She reports feeling different from her peers.

If most of these qualities ring true for your child, your child may be an intuitive empath, or a highly intuitive child. We are all intuitive and capable of empathy, but intuitive empaths possess these abilities more than most people. Intuition involves the ability to pick up on subtle information that is not perceived directly through any of the five senses, but rather is detected through an invisible sixth sense. Empathy is the ability to tune in to how another person is feeling by registering those feelings through the body. Intuitive empaths experience these ways of perceiving the world through an extra-magnified lens.

Gifts and Challenges

Intuition and empathy are incredibly useful abilities in life. Intuition is a source of inner guidance, creativity, imagination, personal direction and meaning, a decision-making tool, and even a personal security system. Empathy helps us step into someone else's shoes and deeply feel what the other person is feeling. This capability gives rise to qualities such as kindness, compassion, and understanding, all of which can be immensely helpful in creating and sustaining successful relationships.

On the other hand, as the parent of an intuitive empath you may be running up against some unusual parenting challenges that are not readily discussed in most parenting books. For instance, what do you do when your child can tell you're having a conflict with your spouse, even when you and your spouse have been tight-lipped? What do you tell your child when he has intuitions of danger that turn out to be accurate? How can you help an intuitive child when he feels a friend's pain so deeply he can't shake it off, absorb so much of a classroom's stress during the day that he has trouble falling asleep at night, gets confused by conflicts and thinks that another person's feelings are actually his own, and even feels the pain of the world? While intuitive children certainly are not rare, they are not the majority either. Most classrooms and school activities do not lend much importance to intuition, and this can leave the intuitive child feeling different or even needing to suppress his or her insights about life.

How to Support an Highly Intuitive Child

As parents and adults involved in nurturing intuitive kids, we can make a big difference in supporting children's intuition and empathy by not only giving positive feedback for these abilities, but also by helping kids learn how to deal with the stressors that can emerge from living with heightened intuitive abilities and teaching them real life skills designed with their abilities in mind.

Here are ways you can help and support an intuitive child:

Stay open to her perceptions without judgment.

Try not to inflate or deflate her intuitive experience when you respond to it.

Realize that she may need your help in learning how to manage the stressors associated with this trait.

Help her see that her way of feeling and seeing life is an important part of who she is--just like any other gift or talent.

Remember that these abilities are fundamental to your child's natural intelligence.

Let your child know he is never alone and that you're available to help him problem solve his intuitive and empathic stressors.

If he has empathically "taken on" someone else's mood, aches, pains, or worries, help him to practice asking "Is this feeling mine?”--and remind him that he's not responsible for someone else's feelings.

If your child is stuck in a pattern of being very in-tune to others or to the pain of the world, then help your child switch to being on the "self channel." You can do this with exercise, by encouraging him to express his feelings in art, or even by taking a couple of slow deep breaths with you.

Intuitive children's messages for us can be simple and direct. Often, they simply require a quick recognition and action, as in the case of Deanna. One day my client Amy was driving her daughter, Deanna, to a toddler play group for the first time. As they drove down the long, winding driveway, Deanna exclaimed, "Watch out for the chickens!" Looking around the clear driveway, Amy asked, "What chickens, Deanna? There aren't any chickens, honey." Deanna continued to insist on chickens. While Amy enjoyed her two-year-old's wonderful imagination, around the next blind curve she was shocked to find not one but four chickens pecking around on their neighbor's driveway.

You can help keep your child's intuition alive and help ensure it as a life long gift, instead of a burden. Intuitive empathy is not really a choice in a child. It is an innate lens through which the child perceives life--and it deserves respect and support.

* * * * *

Catherine Crawford, LMFT, ATR, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and registered art therapist specializing in the needs of intuitive empath children and adults. Her new book is The Highly Intuitive Child: A Guide to Understanding and Parenting Unusually Sensitive and Empathic Children (Hunter House, 2009). Her website is www.lifepassage.com.

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