All children are sensitive, but some kids are unusually sensitive, intuitive, and empathic. They can finish your sentence, sense danger before it happens, “catch” other people’s moods, and even tell you what’s wrong with the family pet. These highly intuitive children have a special gift–but their heightened abilities also come with special health challenges. Here are seven ways you can help your highly intuitive child stay healthy.

    Help him trust his inner yes or no. Every unusually sensitive child has a body signal that tells him yes or no. Help him identify this feeling. Positive hunches may feel tickly, light, open, or happy, for example. A “no” intuition is sometimes described as sad, “off,” flat, or dark. A child who learns to recognize and trust his yes and no hunches can avoid danger, make good decisions, and detect the truth.

    Feed her pure, whole foods she likes. Unusually sensitive children have highly sensitive bodies and are very “tuned in” to what their bodies need. As a result, they sometimes have strong reactions to food dyes and chemicals such as additives and preservatives. Also, they sometimes can’t bring themselves to eat meat. Be sensitive to your child’s food preferences and give her plenty of healthy foods she asks for.

    Pay attention to overeating/undereating. Highly sensitive children sometimes eat for comfort, or won’t eat because of a stomachache, for example, that they have gotten from being around someone who was anxious or depressed. If you notice your child having eating problems, help her express her emotions and find healthy outlets for releasing stress so that it reduces the eating-related problems. When in doubt, be sure to check with a licensed health care provider.

    Encourage exercise. Exercise is a vital part of staying healthy, especially for children who take on more than the average share of other people’s feelings. Walking, running, dancing–any activity that helps your child feel grounded and connected to the earth–are great ways to help your child shake off troubling experiences and emotions he’s picked up during the day.

    Help him “turn off” and recharge overnight. Unusually sensitive children often have a hard time sleeping and turning off their sensors. Sometimes his enhanced traits translate into insomnia and nightmares. Give him a chance to express pent-up emotions before bed. Perform a calming ritual, such as a head massage. Get him to bed early, and establish a regular sleep routine.

    Mind his “personal energy hygiene.” Intuitive empath children need to know how to clear out the feelings they might have taken on during the day so they don’t feel depleted by these feelings, or start to act them out. Just as you teach a child to wash his hands, you can teach him how to “squeeze out his energy sponge” at the end of the day. Some ideas: Hoot into a pillow with big, wild movements; shake it off with your arms; bang it into some clay; or scrub it off with a shower or bath.

    Help her manage stress. Children who tune in to other people’s illnesses and moods often display symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, stomachaches, or distress. Have her ask, “Is this mine?” Teach her ways–through art, words, or movement, for example–to get other people’s emotions out of her body so she can replenish her own balance and quickly bounce back to normal.

    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. She is author of The Highly Intuitive Child: A Guide to Understanding and Parenting Unusually Sensitive and Empathic Children (Hunter House, 2009). You can find out more about her at


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