I met my first Indigo child around 9pm on New Years Eve, 1977.
I was both elated and exhausted, as my son’s birth wasn’t handled well by the hospital – he didn’t like interference from the start. He opened his eyes and wanted to get on with life – by resisting sleep.
The lack of sleep, probably caused by inherited health problems from his dad and myself, remained a challenge. At six weeks old he slept a total of six hours a day, in little naps.
As a teacher I was used to being around children of all ages, but Iestyn had a different feel about him. He had an acute awareness of life and people, a wisdom that led him to writing profound stories at a very young age. Luckily I soon found out that Iestyn had many allergies, and as long as I really watched his diet and health, life was huge fun with him - he was always an imaginative and happy boy.
Now Iestyn is 39, and I have just spent an afternoon with him, in his Indigo passion – being innovative and creative, following the career he started spontaneously before he was two years old. He was preparing a lip-sync class for a group of puppeteers. Being profoundly dyslexic as a child, he naturally knows how young people of today learn best and it is a joy for him to use his successful strategies. I discovered so much from Iestyn and that opened my eyes to see how many kids are experiencing life in different ways.
Teaching Indigo children
I started working with so-called ‘Indigo kids’ as a primary assistant before I went to Teachers Training College. In a school of about 300, I supported five children who found life and learning a bit difficult. The other two hundred and ninety-five managed school very easily.
I later became a deputy head of a hospital school where we had the eighteen children from over the whole of the South East of England, who couldn’t manage school. Nowadays, it would not be unusual to have about twelve of these type of children in a single class – there has been such a huge increase in the number of children struggling with learning and life. Later, I wrote my own reading, spelling and writing programme, "The Other Path" and became a SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator).
From the 1970s I have observed the gradual emergence of the Indigo children, as Nancy Ann Tappe called them, from her synesthetic perception. She noted four types of Indigo children: Humanists, Artists, Conceptualists and Catalysts. She explains that they have come to change every level of human experience. Lee Carroll and Jan Tober have also written about them in their 1998 book, ‘The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived’.
Some of those ‘indigo children are in a lot of pain and anguish. I am with these kids on a daily basis, running my small set-up NatureKids for a group of children who cannot manage school or whose parents want an alternative to school. I call these kids ‘pioneers’ as this is what I have found most of the Indigo children to be doing, pioneering new ways.
Like the pioneers
Whereas pioneers in the past explored our external world, like Charles Darwin, these kids spontaneously explore their inner selves, often from quite a young age. These children feel. They experience the world initially through what they feel, not through what they or others say and do, they usually find what others say and do frustrating and confusing. Annoying is often their word for this but it indicates something far deeper than the general use of the word.
The children range from not enjoying family or school life very much, to totally resisting the old family blueprint and all the normal demands of school.
In a classrooms today, you will most likely have come across at least one of the extreme ‘pioneers’ all their negative ways are a cry for help, and if they are not heard and given understanding, compassion and support, they intensify their negative responses to life. We see this in the huge increase in childhood anxiety, depression, self-harm, anorexia, autism, Specific Learning Difficulties, and the whole range of addictions. Pathological Demand Avoidance is probably the most challenging label for parents and teachers to manage, but I have seen these kids become the most kind and caring, often philanthropic.
I think that the most useful thing I discovered was that there were always neurological reasons for the unpleasant side of a child, and this was not a character trait. Children need support and therapies to fully overcome difficulties like Retained Reflexes, especially the Fear Paralysis Reflex and Moro Reflex, and for high levels of toxicity and low levels of nutrients. The brain and body are made up of what we put into them – and this isn’t always the best nowadays.
I also found that when some part of a child’s development was delayed, even to the extent of, say, not talking, another part of them was developing to be a gift, like a child not being able to read having advanced 3D vision, giving artistic talents, or amazing musical skills. I call this a Divided Brain.
What most or all have in common is that, whatever their age, they are very young for their years in some ways and exceptionally mature and aware in others. There is a missing bit of communication and interaction - and this missing bit usually what stops them from coping with everyday life, family and school. So a focus on communication is really supportive for these children. Neuroscientists like Dr David Hamilton and Daniel Siegel are explaining the benefits of say, explaining and enabling kids to do what we want, rather than telling a child off when they get it wrong.
Some children may feel isolated. They haven't got the usual integration to adapt and adjust to their world. They haven't got the old sense of self because that doesn't work for them, yet they haven't found a new way of being. This is not a disability (although get the allowance for this if helpful!). Their new way may be extremely useful and beneficial to themselves and mankind. - I often see this with kids who have been exceptionally challenging or withdrawn.
Some of the early Indigos are now parents, or even grandparents.
Generalising, if parents have carried through their Indigo journey, ‘healed’ their family tree and reached their true inner selves, life is so much easier for them, and their children don’t have to increase their triggers for major changes. Likewise with teachers, if they are able to live and teach from an authentic part of themselves, life gets easier in the classroom.
There are educationalists supporting this, like Sir Ken Robinson, and Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas who wrote ‘Educating Ruby’. I now share my practical strategies for growth, grouped into six Steps:
In my new book: ‘The Handbook for 21st Century Mums and Dads’. This book is written for parents, but it’s very helpful for teachers, even just noticing if kids are predominantly Owl types: watcher / feelers, or Cat types: speaker / doers, makes life so much easier in the classroom. Teachers also need to be there for the kids whose parents haven’t the knowledge or ability to bring about the changes their children need – to step in to prevent the very dire outcomes. My main aim is to lessen the stigma of children who don’t follow usual family or school patterns, even those who have labels which suggest a negative future.
I find that all the Indigo children and adults who I meet have very special qualities. If they can live their lives true to themselves they enrich our world in an amazing way.
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