This post was originally published on I Must Be Hallucinating Magazine. The publication date was August 3, 2015. See the original article here.
Disclaimer: I am not and do not claim to be a psychiatrist. My opinions on this subject are from my own experiences.
Children look at the world in wonder and do not have the ideas about what does exist and what does not exist until society puts those ideas into their heads. When kids see something; it exists. I understand kids have awesome imaginations, but a parent can usually tell if a child is playing, imagining, or if they really see something.
I remember being a kid and being scared of the witches. I would tell my mom that the witches were going to get me. I would dream about them and I would see them when I was awake. I was terrified they were coming to get me. Her explanation was “witches aren’t real.” There was another incident where I was afraid of a spirit I saw and I truly believed it was going to harm me. My mother told me that “ghosts can’t hurt you.” With this one, I argued. You see, my mother never had paranormal experiences so I was a challenge to her. Luckily she had some help from her grandmother and my other grandmother. They helped her help me. Having lived these experiences and now seeing my kid, I remember a lot about the things I was told as a kid. It wasn’t just my mom, but many of the other people in my life tried to make me think I was looney because I saw things they didn’t.
The thing about kids is that they see the world differently. They may actually be seeing what you don’t see. They may be seeing something you don’t see. Until we can use their eyes and see the world through them, we have no way of knowing. They may actually see nothing, but maybe they think they do. What is it doing to their minds if you continuously tell them that something isn’t real that they are looking right at? It is going to have serious effects on their mental state. Are they going to think that they are crazy or seeing things? Are they going to just stop telling you the problems they are facing? What if telling them things like that while they are kids teaches them to just not confide in you as a teenager? With all the problems teens face, that is the last thing you want.
Luckily, my mother had people around her that could tell her these things and she quickly stopped telling me that. Instead, she figured out how to talk to me and how to give me the tools to handle things that she could not see. I want to encourage all parents and caregivers out there to stop telling children that things don’t exist just because you can’t see them.
Instead, talk to them, ask them how they feel. Ask them when these things appear. Does a certain emotion bring them on? Do certain people bring them around? Teach them the tools to deal with their emotions and most certainly to deal with fear. Teach them to pray and to ask for help. Get them a journal. Instead of telling them it isn’t real and writing it off, talk to them. Even if it happens to be their imaginations, you are teaching them that you will be there for them and that they can handle anything.
Note: This may not be my usual snark/ sassy self, but this is a serious topic that I feel strongly about.