When a Child Feels Haunted

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When a child first enters into this world, they are far more sensitive to the five senses, for them everything is heightened, everything is new, and everything is experienced. Their undeveloped brains do not fully mature until they reach their late teens. Their eyes are so much more sensitive to light, that researchers believe they can see into a spectrum of light that far exceeds that of an adult. Their hearing much more acute, picking up the faintest of sounds, in frequencies beyond that of their parents, but like their parents, they too will also lose all these highly sensitive abilities as they age . . . Or will they?

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As children grow, they are often open to new and wonderful things, including the paranormal. They will begin to become inquisitive, asking questions, yearning for answers. They will not be able to escape the barrage of media information regarding ghosts, spirits, demons, and haunting. They will be inundated with television programming on the paranormal that seem to multiply like rabbits, often blurring the fine line between reality and fiction, with each incarnation becoming more and more diluted and plebian than the last. Unfortunately, this venue is often the only and easiest source for a developing child to access (other than the Internet, which is also riddled with misinformation).

Even as they play, they’re listening and absorbing information from the television, and begin to absorb and believe what they hear as the truth. After all, it’s on the television. Soon they begin to suspect that their bedroom closet has monsters lurking behind the closed door, their room haunted by ghosts in every shadow, and creatures lurking under their bed. Many of these images are derived from the sensational shows they have been subjected to (usually with inaccurate information), as their source truth of the world they’ve been seeing and hearing since they were infants.

So what do you do when your child is convinced that their room and closet is haunted? When they are so frightened, that it disrupts their life, or even the entire household?

Before you begin dealing with your child’s fears, you must first sort out what you believe and what you know about the paranormal. Once you’ve established your baseline of knowledge, you can begin researching what you don’t know or understand, as you too will have many unanswered questions-then and only then-discuss the subject with your child. There are many good sources out there, books probably being your best bet. And yes, the Internet can also provide you with information, but unfortunately the Internet is also riddled with misinformation. Be very careful when using this venue, as you must be savvy enough to sort the wheat from the chafe. Just be sure you use common sense when reviewing any book or visiting any website. Ask yourself how just how probable and/or plausible the information you’re reviewing actually is, and try to avoid mixing religion with the paranormal, it could confuse and compound the situation.

Schedule a time when you and your child can be alone, preferably while playing with them, or helping them pickup their room. Bring up the subject casually, while trying not to make the conversation too serious because it could frighten them even more. Usually begin by asking them in a nonchalant manner what they may have seen or experienced in their room. Are they frightened by the closet, a toy, or a shadow?

Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts or not yourself, telling them they are silly or imagining things is not a good idea. Or worse, that there are no such thing as ghosts. This could possibly alienate your child because they believe what they believe, and they will shut you out, and feel alone. In essence, embrace their feelings, and try to downplay their fears, by letting them know they don’t have to be alone to deal with this problem. So if you happen to be a non-believer, the best thing to do is to follow up your feelings with a discussion that begins with ‘some people believe.’ By doing this you will not alienate your child, but instead become a trusted ally.

As an adult paranormal researcher myself, I understand there are many answers available to any paranormal question out there, but that is not what your child needs right now, so I am going to give you some basic edicts many paranormal ‘professionals’ will agree with.

Try explaining to your child in terms they will understand, once you know what they are frightened of. If it’s a ghost, explain that ghosts are nothing more than a spirit of person who died, and people don’t change just because they died.

Identify a person the child may have known in life, a neighbor or family member that was liked by your child. For example:

“Remember your Aunt Tilly? She was a sweet old lady wasn’t she? Do you remember how she smelled of powder and gave you mints and quarters? Don’t you think she would still be that same sweet person she now that she has died?”

“Then there was Ms. Jackson…If you remember, she used to thump your ear and kick the dog, didn’t she? You just stayed away from her and ignored her because she was mean. Don’t you think then that she might not be such a friendly ghost?  But certainly she wouldn’t be more terrifying than she was in life. Do you remember how you would ignore her and she’d leave you alone?”

The objective here is to point out to the child that when people die, their soul, spirit, and personality does not change. The only thing that’s different when they die is that they no longer have a body. When people love, they take that love with them after they die. When people are mean and spiteful, they take that instead.

Regardless of what everyone sees in movies, ghosts have a limited ability to harm. Most researchers will agree that it takes a lot of energy for a spirit to move a book or a wooden chair. Things that weigh less than 10 pounds are usually the limit of what they can move, much less throw. Most of their shenanigans are limited to moving very small objects for very short distances, or rapping on walls, or closing open doors. This is a real limitation preventing them from doing any real damage to humans.

There have been reports of books being thrown, missing a person by centimeters, and people feeling that they were shoved, but it’s rare for a person to be hurt by such an event. If we examine carefully documented cases, we see that the vast majority of people who are ‘harmed’ by ghosts actually inadvertently harmed themselves while trying to escape from the experience, and often in the dark. A sharp noise behind you could make you jump and hit your head on a beam or trip you on some stairs, or in the process of dodging a flying object you inadvertently step in its path, whether the object fell of its own accord or not.

So now that we know most ghosts are not ‘evil,’ nor ‘demons’ and we have learned that even the nastiest of ghosts have a very limited ability to harm us. This in itself should relieve your child’s fear of being hurt by a ghost. (However, I would be amiss should I not point out that there are in fact other types of entities, usually referred to as ‘inhuman,’ that can be quite dangerous. Yet it should also be understood that documented cases are so very rare that it is not worth discussing here, much less mentioning to your child!)

Your next objective would be empowering your child with authority over the ghost or spirit they perceive to be plaguing them…and there are several ways to accomplish this.

As we all know, the best defense is a good offense, dealing with ghosts is no exception. Explain to your child that, since ghosts were once human, they will understand what you are saying…so by all means, tell them to go away! This can be a surprisingly effective means of eliminating the entity they may be experiencing. Echo Bodine, a highly respected psychic and author, suggests that you provide your child with a spray bottle of ordinary water, as a sort of anti-ghost spray. My suggestion would be to also add a small amount of lavender, mint, or tea tree oil to it to give the water distinctive scent your child could associate with as a type of ‘Raid’ (insect repellent) for ghosts, that when sprayed in their room is so pungent to the ghost it will leave immediately, as small children respond well to props.

Another device that works wonderfully is a ‘special’ ghost light, which is nothing more than a small flashlight with a colored lens or light bulb (even cellophane taped over the lens works well). Green works best, as they will associate this color with the green hues of a paranormal television program that allows investigators to see in the dark. Having them sleep with the flashlight will provide them instant assurance that should they hear a sound in the corner, they simply turn the light on it. If there is a ghost there, they will surely see it. Let them know that ghosts are afraid of these lights and their ‘ghost detector’ light will make the ghost quickly leave, because it burns their eyes.

Use a belief and value system that works for you and your child. For example, if you are a Christian household, a simple medallion necklace for your child can bring comfort to them as a means of protection. I usually recommend St. Michael, the Archangel who drove Lucifer to hell, or Saint George who slayed the dragon (also thought to be Satan). Even a bed time prayer to your child to easily learn in order to reassure them they are protected.

You can even frame a picture of the ‘guardian angel’ over their bed that will protect them while they sleep.

St. Mary is also a good medallion, as she is a mother figure to a child and there are plenty of prayers to her. But of course, any prayer will comfort your child, especially if you recite it with them.

Many people also believe several crystals like amethyst and quartz can provide a positive energy, helping calm. Place them by your child’s bed and tell them the ancients have used these stones for thousands of years to protect them from bad spirits. Also certain aromas (aroma therapy for sleeping) can provide a calming comfort to your child, including lavender, orange, and cedar wood, which could also be used in their ‘ghost repellent’ spray.

Whatever you use, sell your child on their power, and not only with they be comforted, you’ll both get a better night’s sleep because of it. Comforting the child using props will give your child imaginary ‘powers’ designed to empower them with a sense of control, which in turn will limit, or even eliminate their fears of ghosts, the dark, or being alone. There are emerging studies that paranormal entities live off the energy created by fear, so if there is an entity present, these props can actually do some good. (Please review our article “The Energy of Fear” in this issue of the Journal.) Thus the less fear your child has, the less an entity will be attracted! Fear is like ambrosia that attracts and fuels spirits of all kinds, thus by ridding your child of fear will empower them to take control. Talk with your child and help them overcome their fears rationally; take them for walks or to the playground and talk with them as you escort them. Kids are quite resilient and learn quickly. Your confidence will also teach them to be confident and brave. But much more, let them know they are not alone.

Finally, and most importantly, make the child realize that we ‘the living’ are much more powerful than the dead. The dead may be able to do ‘tricks’ designed to scare us, but we, the living ultimately control this world. Teach your child to tell the ghost, in a strong firm voice, “You are not welcome in my room, or in this house.” Teach them to tell the ghost to go to the light and leave this earth. This is our house not theirs. Even let them know it’s alright to yell at the ghost to get out, as they claim their space as theirs. Encourage them to feel the anger at the ghost or spirit, and let them know they have the power to express it! Nine times out of ten if there is a ghost within ear-shot, they will leave. In fact, you can tell your child that this is even how a real ‘ghost hunter’ gets rid of ghost in a person’s home. It is also a method many child psychologists use to help rid children of pent up or subconscious anger and fears. So, as silly as this may sound, you are really helping your child on so many different levels that will carry them throughout their life by teaching them how to cope with their fear.

Just remember to use these tools I’ve provided you in a manner tailored to your fit child’s personality. When you do, the entire issue of ghosts should quickly be taken care of. Above all, remember that children are far more in tune with the paranormal because they can see and hear things we don’t. Never discount or dismiss their claims easily, but guide them and support them while teaching them how to deal with these entities. Chances are if they are in your home, this will not be the last time, so give your kids a good foundation they can use later in life.

Having said this, if for some reason you yourself begin to wonder if your house is truly haunted, don’t be surprised if is. Never show it any fear…most likely the ghost is passing through, and if it is not amused, will leave on its own accord. If you feel you definitely have a problem, don’t hesitate to contact a local paranormal organization to help you. Again be careful who you select, and always ask for references. Simply doing a web search for paranormal investigators in your city and state should provide you a good starting point. If you are still confused as to what to do, please feel free to contact us at the Journal of Anomalous Sciences by clicking on our contacts page. We will gladly offer you any assistance we can and point you in the right direction.

Article submitted by Diana Caprio at Paranormal Portals