“Do I Need to Believe in Ghosts to Help My Child Through Fears?”
When a child sees a ghost, he or she turns to mom or dad for support, problem solving, or a fix to the situation. How a parent responds will influence the child for the rest of his or her life. Yes, that is true for all life events, but how a parent handles kids seeing ghosts is especially critical because a child’s integrity is in question, and the parent’s integrity may be questioned by the child. Both parent and child deserve respect, not brush-offs.
Many parents wonder whether or not their child is imagining the ghost, implying the ghost must not be real. And many parents ask if they “have to” or are “supposed to” believe in ghosts for the sake of their child.
The answers are not black or white because every parent’s culture, values, religions, views about spiritual life, and thinking styles influence those answers. For a one-time ghost event, it probably is not necessary that parents believe in ghosts. However, when the child has imaginary friends and continues to communicate with these friends in puberty and into the teen years, then a parent and child need to make discussion time about realities, worldviews, agreements and disagreements.
The four steps of responses to kids seeing ghosts follow…
1. Listen to their stories.
2. Don’t dismiss them or put them down.
3. Ask questions.
4.Observe how the child interacts with the ghost, and understand any stressful life circumstances that might be influencing the child’s perceptions.
When parents have the information they need, they feel more confident in helping a child overcome fear and put any event into perspective. Those four steps help the child stay connected to the parent’s heart and allow him or her the time and opportunity for further exploration and understanding. Don’t think that you can shield children from fear or feel that you have to take care of all their fears. Kids learn resilience just like parents learned it by gaining life experience with confidence in knowing mom or dad support them.
The minimum attitude a parent could offer for a child who sees ghosts would be one of possibility: “Maybe you do see something.” The moderate attitude would be, “Let’s explore and learn together.” A breast cancer survivor shared her mental focus with me as she was going through treatment, and I think it is applicable here. Each day, she said to herself: “It is what is it is.” This means she focused precisely on each event of that day, whether it was making a sandwich or having chemotherapy.
Whether your child refuses to go into his or her bedroom because a ghost lives there, sees the spirit of Uncle Lou in the corner of garage, or talks to an angel, it is what it is! Whether or not you believe in ghosts or feel your child is playing a game, it is still what it is. That attitude keeps you focused on the event and your child, and keeps you from spinning into fears or fatigue.
When we suggest a parent believe, we mean to believe in the child—to believe that the child believes!
I had the pleasure of being the 7th blog stop on Dr. Caron Goode’s blog tour for an amazing book, Kids Who See Ghosts, guide them through their fear. If you missed yesterday’s blog stop, check out http://yvonneperry.blogspot.com for Yvonne Perry’s interview of the award-winning author, Dr. Caron Goode.
To continue the blog tour on stop 8, please visit http://luannschindler.com/ for a discussion of why people don’t want to talk about ghosts. What are we afraid of?
Don’t forget to check out Dr. Goode’s prior book, Raising Intuitive Children for guidance regarding parenting intuitive kids.