Empaths are people who feel emotions more deeply than others. They are highly sensitive, experiencing others’ joy and pain as if it were their own. It turns out that being an empath is a gift. While many people are empathetic, empaths are a unique personality type that only affect a small portion of the population.
With a natural tendency to care deeply for others, it makes sense that empath kids tend to be lovers of stories. However, because they are so in touch with emotions, real or portrayed, it’s important to take extra steps as their parent to help them grow and make the most out of their gift.
And if your child isn’t an empath, that’s okay, because it turns out they can adopt similar traits by becoming bilingual. A study from the University of Chicago revealed that bilingual children are more likely to be more empathetic, effective communicators than kids who only speak one language.
Early childhood is the best time to learn a second or third language — even before they’ve mastered their native tongue. The more multilanguage exposure a child has, the greater the cognitive benefits they stand to gain.
In this guide, we’ll cover tips for reading with your empath child. These strategies can also help parents use bilingual reading to foster a deeper connection between their children’s emotions and the stories they encounter.
Empath kids are highly sensitive individuals, prone to experiencing emotions on a much more intense scale than others. Here are some signs that you have an empath on your hands:
The most important thing to remember is that your empath child needs extra emotional support, patience, and care as they grow. Because they are so receptive to others’ feelings, they’re far more likely to internalize interactions as well.
Reading is an incredible way to help your empath child develop emotional skills and understanding that will make life easier for them.
There are many books for toddlers that teach emotions, like sadness, anger, and even grief. Exploring a wide range of emotions through literature can help your child become more resilient and understanding of others’ experiences.
A challenge many empath children have is actually understanding the why of others’ feelings. They can get lost in thought trying to figure out why someone said something or acted a certain way.
Stories that include the full cycle of emotional experiences can help an empath child understand themselves and others better.
Instead of moving straight through a story, take time to pause and explore your child’s response. Empaths can get deeply engrossed in fiction, but they may not always be able to fully process their own emotions well.
Throughout a story, ask your child questions that encourage them to use their gift. You might ask, “What is this person feeling right now?” or “They look sad. Why do you think that is?”
For toddlers, identifying emotions as they progress throughout a story can be helpful
Consider statements like, “The girl is happy she’s playing with her friends,” or “The boy is sad, so he’s crying.”
Empaths can be easily traumatized by sad or violent things, even if they’re made to believe. For this reason, it’s best to keep their stories and media light. Work with their current threshold, and help them develop greater understanding and resilience.
They will likely always favor the lighter side of things, and that’s okay. But incorporating some stories with sad elements can gradually help them develop a greater emotional tolerance as well.
Most importantly, you want to choose stories that make your empath child feel safe. With time, they can learn that negative emotions are not entirely bad and they can teach us important things, too.
Bilingual reading can help empath kids feel a deeper connection to the world around them. One of the biggest struggles many empaths face is trying to always understand everyone’s feelings. Bilingualism helps kids become more understanding, empathetic, and in touch with others’ experiences.
Even children who are only exposed to second languages demonstrate greater understanding and communication skills.
Bilingual stories teach children to see the world through another lens. But they also remind an empath child that no matter what language we speak or where we live, emotions are universal.
The shared human experience can be deeply affirming and reassuring to an empath child, especially as they grow and encounter more complex situations.
Stories are amazing ways to introduce children to a wide range of life experiences. As the parent of an empath child, you may want to shield them from negative emotions or sad stories. However, it’s best to talk through these difficult topics rather than avoid them.
Choose age-appropriate books that cover a wide range of experiences and emotions — including loss and grief.
Take time to discuss these things with your child. In addition to asking them how the characters feel, ask them how they feel. And share your own emotional reactions, too. Empaths thrive off open discussion.
Dialogic reading is a great strategy for building deeper connections with your child as you read.
Teaching your child that it’s okay to feel deeply can help them avoid emotional repression later in life. As they get older, they’ll be able to understand that sadness is a part of life, and even though it’s uncomfortable, they can learn to appreciate its lessons, too.
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