Indigo Children: New Age Trend or Undiagnosed ADHD?

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
indigo girl
Indigo children are said to be old souls with unusual psychological attributes and even psychic abilities. Kachalkina Veronika/Shutterstock

Indigo children is a New Age concept assigning special psychological characteristics to certain children. It involves something called colorology, also known as color psychology or chromotherapy. Colorology assigns meanings to specific colors and also refers to their use for therapeutic purposes.

The color indigo, which is a dark blue hue, is generally classified as promoting a sense of calm. Indigo children are said to be kids (or adults) with indigo-colored "auras" who possess "special spiritual or metaphysical abilities," according to Mo Mulla, co-creator of the parenting blog Parental Questions. Indigos' auras are said to be blue or violet.


Origins of Indigo Children

The indigo children phenomenon is a pretty new one. It all began in the late 1960s and early 1970s when a California psychic and parapsychologist named Nancy Ann Tappe started taking note of children with indigo auras. She noticed an increase in the number of children born around that time with indigo auras. The majority of indigo children were born in the 1980s and 1990s.

Fast-forward to 1999 when a book titled "The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived" was penned by international authors Jan Tober and Lee Carroll who delve into the spiritual aspects of these children. The tome serves as "a blueprint for parents raising an indigo child," emails parenting blogger Kris McCormick.


In the book description, the authors refer to these children as those who display "a new and unusual set of psychological attributes, revealing a pattern of behavior generally undocumented before." According to the authors, these never-before-seen characteristics require special efforts by parents and teachers to "assist them in achieving balance and harmony in their lives, and to help them avoid frustration."

The prevailing theory about the sudden emergence of indigo children is that they are "the next step in human evolution," Mulla says via email. In fact, it's said they're born armed with "unique qualities and abilities that will help them to create a better world."


Characteristics of Indigo Children

Indigo children allegedly get their auras thanks to some intrinsic characteristics they're born with. McCormick, a believer in the indigo child concept, lists some of the most common traits:

  • Self-confidence: Indigo children are "free thinkers on a mission." They believe their life purpose is to help others.
  • Extreme intelligence: They tend to have high IQ scores.
  • Emotionality: Indigo children are extremely sensitive to their emotions, which helps them be empathetic toward others.
  • Creativity: Many are artistically and musically gifted, though they get bored easily.
  • Rebelliousness: They reject authority and unfairness.

Indigo children aren't just kids with unique characteristics, according to believers. In fact, they are said to be more highly evolved than their peers. McCormick elaborates that indigo children (and adults, for that matter) often possess gifts like telepathy and that some can even "interact with spirits due to their high vibrational energy."


"Many believe that they are here to help usher in a new era of spiritual growth and enlightenment," says Mulla. He notes that indigos are recognized for their "strong sense of justice" and are inspired to go against the grain if it means that they are standing up for what they believe in.

Although many kids are sensitive to some degree, indigo children "are on the far end of that sensitivity," says human design guide Andrea Ward Berg, in an email. "How that can show up may include increased discomfort in certain locations or around certain people, interrupted sleep, heightened imagination, and difficulty adhering to our 'social norms,'" she explains.

Berg has a 4-year-old son whom she believes is an indigo child. "On the one hand, it's incredibly fulfilling to witness him experience the world," she says. "He is wildly creative, thoughtful, and so fun to be with. On the other hand, it's often challenging because he is so far in the extremes when it comes to sensitivity."

She says that she has worked with teachers and family members to "help them understand where his unique experience is coming from." She chooses to view his sensitivity as a gift "so my biggest challenge as a parent is supporting him in developing skills to understand and work in the world while not dampening his sensitivity or planting seeds of doubt around his abilities."


Criticisms of the Indigo Phenomenon

boy with pencil on nose
Some experts think that indigo children really just have undiagnosed ADHD, which could explain the notion that some function poorly in conventional schools. Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Not everyone buys into this indigo child theory. Some experts think the indigo child label is being used as a Band-Aid of sorts for kids who are potentially dealing with undiagnosed issues like autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder.

Dr. Monica Vermani, clinical psychologist and author of "A Deeper Wellness: Conquering Stress, Mood, Anxiety and Traumas," says by email that she's comfortable raising "a red flag" about the concept. She explains that parents who "buy whole-heartedly into its framework might view their child's problematic symptoms and behaviors — like inattention, and disruptive or defiant behaviors — through the lens of their indigo child status or identity." This, she explains, "could lead them to dismiss, resist, or delay addressing problems through traditional channels of proper diagnosis and treatment."


When a child isn't treated for ADHD, for example, there can be far-reaching consequences. Many experts say that untreated ADHD can lead to substance abuse problems, detrimental eating habits and even poor driving skills, among other issues. Children on the autism spectrum who don't receive support are not likely to develop social skills and may have significant behavioral problems as they grow and mature.

"In society, we need just to see people as people, and we all have symptoms that can be holding us back in one way or another in life," Vermani says. "It is harmful to categorize people rather than acknowledge, understand and help them overcome problematic symptoms. Professionally I believe that treatment is about providing coping skills, resources, and professional guidance to address problematic symptoms ... as early as possible."

Counters Berg, "ADHD, Autism, neurodivergence, and titles of this nature are all ways that we categorize the sensitivity that comes with the shift in awareness that we're currently undergoing. [The] indigo child is another way to describe the concept because our children are coming in with greater awareness due to the collective shift."


How To Know If You Have an Indigo Aura

An indigo child is defined by its indigo aura, which is not the easiest thing to see, but apparently possible. To get such a visual of the "luminous body that surrounds your physical one," some experts say to stand in front of a mirror, squint your eyes and soften your gaze ever so slightly. It might also help to look away a bit, so that the reflection is more in your peripheral vision. Hopefully, some extra light or colors that weren't there before will start to show up. Or, find an aural photographer near you to get the job done. An aural photo will show your colors around your portrait thanks to some sensors you hold while the photo is being taken. These sensors send an electric charge through the body which will give off energy as different colors.

Colorology believers maintain that there are a bunch of different auras to be seen, and that sometimes more than one color is apparent. People with red auras are said to be energetic and strong-willed, while those with green auras are very social, nurturing and good at communication. Indigos are said to be gentle, spiritual and curious.


Whether you fully believe in the existence of indigo children or think it's all hogwash, psychologist Vermani says it's wise to keep a "clear focus" on what's happening in a child's life. "We need to see children as individuals, and understand that each child is unique," she says. "And parents need to understand that it is their responsibility to recognize and address problematic symptoms and behaviors that could hold their child back from succeeding in their life ... regardless of the hue of their aura."