We have a friend who has been at loggerheads with her eight-year-old daughter for a long time. It always starts off with the little things, such as homework, television privileges and attending extracurricular activities, and often ends with a fierce argument and the dreaded words, 'I hate you Mummy.' Amelia, our friend's daughter, is brighteyed, intelligent, talkative, energetic and somewhat shy. Strangers and friends tend to find her charming, but she can be a right devil to her mother, especially when she is deeply unhappy about something. Amelia is not a bad child with behaviour problems. Rather, she is part of a recent phenomenon of children considered unique by child psychologists and experts but displaying a special set of problems that require a special approach. These young people are known as 'indigo children', named for their strong 'indigo-hued aura' first noted by psychic Nancy Ann Tappe. (According to New Age metaphysics, an aura is the energy field or life force given off by people or objects, and these auras can be identified by their different colours.) Lee Carroll and Jan Tober, authors of the book The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived, published in 1999, say that 'indigo children' require a fresh parenting approach based on unconditional love and acceptance. These children are strong-willed, wise beyond their years, see through all our hidden agendas, speak their minds, have problems with absolute authority and are often wrongly diagnosed with behavioural and learning problems. Expert metaphysician Doreen Virtue believes these children come with many gifts. 'They are here to change our political, educational, nutritional, family and other systems,' says Virtue in her book The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children. Distinct character traits include a low tolerance level for dishonesty, an inability to conform to dysfunctional situations at home, school or work, and often a right-brain approach to life, which means coming up against a lot of brick walls in our largely leftbrained world. No wonder these children are having a tough time coping. And no wonder parents are having an even tougher time handling them. The old style of parenting that demands respect based on fear and authority does not work with these children. One thing they will not do is blindly accept binding rules designed to make them conform to established norms and expectations. This may partly explain why so many children today are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and are prescribed drugs such as Ritalin. They tune out and have to be drugged into submission. 'Indigos' need plenty of room to explore their world and themselves. This may not be good news to many parents. These children are not likely to be driven by the same goals (material security and success, a degree, a good job, a nice house, a car) that motivated previous generations. The parents of these children face a huge challenge because the adjustments required are enormous. The parents of indigo children tend to have had strictly supervised childhoods, and now they are being forced to give their children something they themselves may not have had - an open, tolerant environment that leaves room for true communication. It is not just the behavioural aspects that parents of indigos have to cope with. There is also the health aspect. Indigos tend to be sensitive to such things as pesticides in fruit and vegetables, toxins in toiletries and household products, pollutants, synthetic materials and food dyes, additives and preservatives. According to writer Virtue, these children do better with natural foods, while vitamin and mineral supplements may help to improve their moods and concentration levels. She also encourages parents to give these children plenty of opportunity for exercise and creative activities, such as photography, jewellery-making, dancing or music. Because they are right-brain dominant, indigos learn more by what they see than by what they hear. For example, seeing written words would help indigo children to learn spelling quicker than hearing the letters repeated. The parents must give extra attention to listening to these children, and not give them the pressure of high expectations. These children may lead us to places we know nothing of and surprise us with the beauty and abundance we may find there.