THE INDIGO CHILDREN
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© December 2009, The Center For Development
A new type of child is appearing today who is very intelligent, very sensitive and often needs special care. These are called the indigo children. The Indigo Children, (1999) by Nancy Ann Tappe discusses evidence from over fifty psychologists, doctors, teachers and parents that indeed a new type of gifted child is emerging. The book also discusses what these children are like and how to handle them. Let us meet the indigo children.
WHAT IS AN INDIGO CHILD?
According to the authors of The Indigo Children, here are some of the childrenŐs common traits:
á They are very intelligent, and very oriented toward their purpose on earth.
á They come into the world with a feeling of royalty (and often act like it).
á They have a feeling of deserving to be here.
á They often tell the parents "who they are".
á They may seem antisocial unless they are with their own kind. If there are no others of like consciousness around them, they often turn inward, feeling like no other human understands them. School can be very difficult for them socially.
á They will not respond to "guilt" discipline ("Wait till your father gets home and finds out what you did").
á They are not shy in letting you know what they need.
á They often have lots of energy.
GIFTED OR TROUBLED?
Mental health professional are interviewed throughout the book. Nancy Ann Tappe and others emphasize that indigo children can be difficult to deal with, especially if they are not treated correctly. If they become frustrated by their environment, they can become aggressive, angry and even violent. This can this help explain some of the problems in the schools. Literally millions of children are labeled ADHD and almost nine million children are drugged for this as early as age 3. Other problems of our young people include depression in record numbers, and even bipolar disorder diagnoses that have risen from 20,000 ten years ago to over 800,000 today.
On a positive note, however, these children are bringing great positive changes to our planet. For example, one of the qualities of the indigo children is that they often have a high IQ. In fact, according to psychologist, Dr. Kathy McKloskey, an excellent way to identify Indigo Children is to test their IQ. They will generally score in the high or even gifted range, at least in some sub-set of the test.
Over the past 50 years, school test scores have generally fallen, but IQ scores have risen significantly. I will quote from a book called The Rising Curve: Long-term Gains in IQ and Related Measures: "IQ scores have in fact shown an astonishing rise in the past 50 years, and scores between white and minority students are converging".
THE SCHOOLS ARE FAILING THE INDIGOS
It appears that the school system is not prepared for the indigo children. It often stifles their gifts and prevents the expression of the high IQ. According to the National Foundation for Gifted and Creative Children, many gifted children are mistakenly thought to be 'learning disabled'. I will quote, "Many gifted children are being destroyed in the public educational system and falsely labeled ADHD. Many parents are unaware that their child could be gifted."
The same foundation lists the following characteristics to help you identify if your child is gifted:
á Has high sensitivity
á Has excessive amounts of energy
á Bores easily - may appear to have a short attention span
á Requires emotionally stable and secure adults around him or her
á Will resist authority if it is not democratically oriented
á Has preferred ways of learning, particularly in reading and math
á May become easily frustrated because they have big ideas and lack the resources or people to assist them in carrying these tasks to fruition.
á Learns from an exploratory level, resisting rote memory or just being a listener.
á Cannot sit still unless absorbed in something of their own interest
á Is very compassionate. They often have many fears, such as death and loss of loved ones.
á If they experience failure early, they may give up and develop permanent learning blocks.
á May withdraw if feeling threatened or alienated, and may sacrifice their creativity in order to 'belong'
Notice how closely these qualities match the description of the indigo children and those of many children diagnosed with ADHD, depression and other Ňmental problemsÓ.
PARENTING AN INDIGO CHILD
Much of The Indigo Children is devoted to how to parent an indigo child. The book offers many examples and principles of parenting and discipline that are helpful for these children. Here are some of them:
1. Treat Indigos lovingly and with respect. Honor their presence. Do not talk down to them, or they will not respect you. All the words in the world will have no effect if they are not treated lovingly and respectfully.
2. Listen to them, be present with them, reason with them, and talk with them like adults. If you can't be present with them, tell them so. You can say "I need to relax for a while and just read the newspaper. Then we can talk about this". They don't care so much as long as you are honest. They know quickly when you are lying or acting phony.
3. Answer their questions, rather than brushing them off. If you don't know the answer, say so, but attempt to find out. And keep your word. Their questions are valid.
4. Give them choices about everything! Indigo Children appreciate being included in decisions, and they need choices. For example, rather than tell your indigo child to wash his hands, you will get better compliance by phrasing it as a choice: Do you prefer to wash your hands in the kitchen or the bathroom?
Rather than, "Sit down for dinner", say "Where would you like to sit for dinner?"
5. Discipline them, rather than punish them. There is a difference in intent that is enormous! Help them create their own disciplinary solutions. For example, if a child misbehaves, try asking the child to consider an appropriate punishment or better, an appropriate consequence. This is a much better word to use. You may be surprised when they come up with the disciplinary action themselves, and are content to go along with it.
6. Be creative when setting limits. Allow for extra physical energy, for example. Also, let the child's strengths drive the limits, not their weak areas as much, if possible. You might be surprised what your child can do. Above all, ask the child to help you set the limits.
How well they cooperate, of course, depends on many factors. However, many will be glad to set the limits, with your help. These children need clear boundaries, but some freedom within the boundaries.
7. If these children act arrogant, it is usually because they are bored. It is a sign they need new challenges or new boundaries. Keeping them occupied is the best way to keep them out of trouble. However, since their bodies are quite delicate, in fact, keeping them in quieter activities, rather than rushing around all day is often a wise idea.
8. Never belittle them - ever! This means to avoid discipline by shame or guilt. Instead, set up reasonable but firm rules and boundaries, expected discipline and punishments, and stick with them. Help them work through their issues and requests, rather than just saying "The answer is no".
You can say to them, "When I was your age I did that, and this happened as a result. Now how would you handle this situation?" If you don't chat with them, they will assume you don't know the answers or don't care.
9. Always explain why when you give them instructions. Listen to these reasons yourself! Do your reasons sound stupid, such as "because I told you so"?
If so, revisit them and change them. Your child will respect you for this. If you just bark dictatorial orders without good reason, you are likely to meet fierce resistance.
Simple reasons for instructions will often suffice, such as "because I am tired today". Honesty will go a long way with these children.
10. Make them partners in raising them. Think about this one a lot.
11. As infants, explain to them everything you are doing. They may not understand, but your attentiveness and honoring of them will be felt and appreciated.
12. If problems develop, have the childŐs IQ tested before you label them and drug them. Also, read the article on this website about ADHD before putting any child on drugs. Read other articles on this website before giving any child drugs for infections, depression or other common diagnoses.
One reason for this is that drugs are often unnecessary, as is labeling children unneeded in many instances. However, the indigo children are even more sensitive to drugs in some cases.
13. Always provide safety in your support. Do not use negative criticism. Instead, express your support for their endeavors. They will often rise to meet your expectations, and shock you in doing so. Then celebrate together. Encourage them, but do not force achievement, either. These children may rebel if forced into anything, even good things.
14. Don't tell these children who they are or who they will be. Let them decide who and what they are interested in. Don't force them into a family trade or business, for example. They are definitely not followers.
15. Be flexible in your viewpoint and expectations for these children. Maybe doing well in school is not the most important issue, for example.
These children often know they have a mission, or work to do. School performance may not be the critical factor in their upbringing.
Much more important may be to preserve and protect their creativity and integrity. These qualities are now much more important for a person's future success than their ability to perform on rote exams or going to the right college.
Many, if not most of the indigo children, are misdiagnosed as ADHD. In fact, Dr. Kathy McKloskey says if a child is diagnosed with ADHD, often they are Indigos. Yet they are not learning disabled!
In fact, their IQ is generally above average. They simply learn differently, require a different learning environment, and often resist the kind of absolute authority that characterizes most school systems.
Drugging the children, say these psychologists, is not the answer. It does not improve school performance and may have frightening side effects. The media seldom reports that most school shootings are by individuals on prescribed medication!
There are many alternatives to drugging. Nutritionally, these high-energy children often improve when sugar and stimulants are completely eliminated from their diets. Nutritional supplements for those tending toward ADHD include calcium, magnesium, high quality fats and oils such as fish oil, choline and inositol.
The Indigo Children book also lists other natural therapies that can help these children better manage their bodies and minds. If ADHD is a concern, definitely review the school situation and your parenting techniques carefully.
THE SCHOOL ISSUE
The authors state that the school system must change if it is to work for the indigo children. Several psychologists interviewed recommended alternative education systems such as Montessori schools, Waldorf Schools or home schooling.
Montessori schools are based on the work of Maria Montessori, an Italian educational pioneer. They are the largest alternative school system in America. Waldorf schools are based on the research of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, a German philosopher and educational pioneer.
For more educational information, see the resources at the end of this article. Each child is different. Thus various schooling options may need to be tried.
SENDING POTENT, POSITIVE MESSAGE
Indigo children can be challenging! As a parent, teacher or counselor of these children, you have your work cut out for you. Remember, we are never given any challenge that is greater than our ability.
Read The Indigo Children. It can provide hope and some answers. Above all, remember to play, laugh and love with these children. They have much to give and they are our future.
1. American Montessori Society, New York, (212) 924-3209.
2. ADD Action Group, New York, (212) 769-2457, www.addgroup.org
3. Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, Fair Oaks, CA (916) 961-0927
4. Carroll, L. and Tober, J, The Indigo Children, Hay House, Inc., Carlsbad, CA, 1999.
5. National Foundation for Gifted and Creative Children, Warwick, RI, (401) 738-0937.
6. Neissser, Ulrich, ed., The Rising Curve: Long-Term Gains in IQ and Related Measures, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 1998.
7. Tappe, N.A., Understanding Your Life Through Color, Starling Publishers, CA, 1982. Available from Awakenings Bookstore (949) 457-0797.
8. Since the publication of The Indigo Children, several other books have come out that supposedly deal with indigo children. I have not reviewed these books so I cannot recommend them outright.