Do you feel drained and tired after spending small amounts of time with your child? An emotional energy vampire feeds off other people’s energy because they can’t create or sustain their own. Some children refill energetic storehouses by feeding off their mom and dad’s energy stores. These kids don’t leave parents or other family members feeling typically tired after a long busy day. They literally drain every ounce of energy their mom, dad, sibling or other family member has. How do you cope with children who are emotional energy vampires, protect your energy, or at least refuel quickly? By learning how energy vampires function.
Whether or not your child is defined as an “energy vampire” is irrelevant. More important than the definition is how you will raise him or her to be a healthy, functioning adult – and how you will keep your sanity!
Child energy vampires make you feel overwhelmed, defensive, exhausted or even depressed. They have strong narcissistic tendencies and a constant hunger for admiration and attention. Children need you to help protect them against real or imagined attacks from other children, siblings, teachers, and parents. Like adult emotional energy vampires, children habitually find fault and criticize others to help them feel superior and in control. A child’s mood changes can be rapid and bewildering; they can’t deal with change or challenges in healthy ways.
Adult energy vampires are much easier to avoid, both at work and home. You know you’re dealing with an emotional energy vampire if he draws you into his constant dramas, negativity, hostile rages, complaints, and sad stories. Children who are energy vampires are similar, but with less complicated stories. But your own child child has even more power than an adult to leave you feeling drained, tired, depleted, confused, and on edge for days. How do you cope with children who are energy vampires? Especially a child you adore when you’re not lying in an exhausted heap on the floor?
How to Cope With Young and Adult Children Who Are Energy Vampires
Some time ago I wrote an article called “How Energy Vampires Drain Your Spirit” for a health and spirituality magazine. I included 11 ways to protect yourself from negative influences and prevent emotional energy vampires from draining your energy and spirit. When readers started asking me about how to deal with their children who are energy vampires – and even how to get more energy when caring for elderly parents – I realized that parents are in a totally different situation.
“I have a 5 year old energy vampire. How do I stay away from her? She makes me play with her all the time and makes me soo exhausted. I’m glad that I know now because I have done some research and she fits the definition of an emotional vampire. She isn’t happy with herself and she thinks everyone hates her.”
4 ways to cope with children who drain your energy:
- Set a play schedule. Your child may be headstrong, but you’re still the parent! Set a play schedule with her: 15 minutes of together time, 15 minutes of playroom time, 15 minutes for snack, etc. Most kids like the predictability of a routine – and you need the knowledge that in 15 minutes, you can take a break.
- Find games that focus energy. Some games, such as Barbies or dress up, focus attention and energy on one another. Others focus energy elsewhere. When you have young children who are emotional energy vampires, play games that direct her attention to an object. Being outside may give you the space you need while directing her energy elsewhere.
- Take a parenting class. Coping with young children who are emotional vampires involves fine-tuning your parenting skills. Most parenting classes offer excellent tips and support for parents – whether they’re dealing with a difficult child, or just want to learn more. The bonus of taking a parenting class is that you’ll meet parents dealing with the same challenges!
- Get help. If your child is psychologically demanding (eg, saying that everyone hates her all the time, is overly dramatic, or overreacts to small things) – consider getting counseling or therapy help. You can’t be an effective parent if you’re constantly drained of emotional energy, and you may not have the counseling skills to help her! Getting counseling help for your child may be an effective solution – especially in the long run.
If your daughter’s hatred is draining your energy, read What to Do When Your Daughter Says She Hates You.
“What if the emotional energy vampire is your adult child who lives in another state? I am a single mom and quite frankly, I am exhausted from the phone calls, confrontations, putdowns from this 32 year old.”
3 ways to cope with adult children who are emotional vampires:
- Figure out how long it takes for you to recover from a visit, and schedule your phone calls or visits accordingly. For instance, if your energy starts to return after a week without contact, then give yourself two or three weeks between visits.
- Let the phone ring. Who says you have to answer the phone every time it rings? Whether or not your adult child is an energy vampire, you have the right not to answer the phone. You also have the right to return a call when you’re ready.
- Have a plan for recharging after visits or calls. Set time limits on your phone calls or visits – and stick to them. After talking to an emotional vampire, recharge your batteries and refuel your tank in ways that fill you up. Positive activities include things that gives you joy: writing, doing yoga, praying, walking, petting your dog or cat.
Whether the energy vampires in your life are children or adults, you have the same choice: You can be right or you can be happy. This means that arguing with an emotional vampire isn’t just fruitless and unproductive, it is destructive and draining for you. Energy vampires are energized by conflict. Protect your energy by letting them be right.
How do you cope with young or adult children who drain your energy and leave you feeling exhausted? Feel free to share below!