The following advice is put forward, based on many years' experience from several informed Perception9 Paranormal Members and Advisors. We feel it important to add these guidelines to our website due to the number of requests and enquiries that we receive concerning children claiming to see or hear ghosts, as well as other forms of what we might term as paranormal activity. We do so as we are only too aware of the concern and worry this causes for the parents, as well as for the children themselves. These guidelines are for advice use only and we can only present them in a broad based manner - each child is an individual, so in no way do we claim that they should replace a parent's better judgement.
To put it into context - fear of the paranormal and supernatural is essentially the fear of the unknown ... the fear of events that do not appear to have an obvious and explainable cause ... the fear of the dangers this might present.
Approaching the subject of the paranormal with children is often not an easy situation for a parent to handle. Apart from children seeming to be far more psychic than adults, they very quickly pick up on the subject of ghosts and haunted places from the media and often will do what children do best - try it out and see what the effect is. "There's a ghost in my bedroom/in the cupboard/on the stairs." is one of those statements that will be blurted out at some time. The usual reaction is "Don't be silly!" Is that a good or bad reaction?
An enquiry that we get quite often concerns 'imaginary friends'. Although perhaps not technically a ghost - if it is just a friend from the child's imagination - they can certainly take on a real existence in some children's minds. Too many times we have seen where people only ever see everything like this as paranormally based, totally ignoring the fact that many children do have non-existent imaginary friends and in most cases there is no ghost, spirit or other entity involved at all. So, to treat it as ghost from square one only introduces that idea into what is already an active imagination ...
Every child, when they play on their own, invents others to be in the game. For example, a girl playing with a doll invents a personality for the doll and maybe other 'family' members. Nothing sinister - just normal play. The imaginary friend might just be an extension of that - but a more regularly imagined play-mate. With kids being kids, it might be prudent to chat to the child about their 'friend' simply to see how they feel about this side-kick who has come on the scene. The chances are that the child will jog along very happily with this friend until other things come along to replace it - but by monitoring it, you can step in if you feel something is not right or the child begins to seem worried.
If this becomes the case, again we do not advocate you leaping to paranormal and ghost related conclusions. You know your child best and something 'of this world' is most likely the cause for anxiety and should be considered first. All the time that ghosts or ghost related aspects are not part of the situation - don't introduce them. If ghosts do become part of the situation in the child's mind, the explanation of the child frightening itself should not be discarded but the new factor does have to be taken into account, even if only to reassure the child.
From here, we will base this item on the fact that the child is presenting you with a 'ghost' situation. It might come 'out of the blue' or be a continuation of a chain of events (as above), so we'll try to address most possibilities.
Note: If your child already has ghosts on their mind, you won't be introducing that idea so instead of (perhaps) trying to fend it all off, why not take a "Let's find out!" approach. By taking that plunge yourself, you are also effectively reassuring the child that you are doing something about their fear ... and maybe coverting fear into reassurance and interest as you start to find some answers. The unknown starts to become known and becomes less threatening. Use Perception9 Paranormal or other 'paranormally down to earth' websites.
While we are presenting this article on the web, it might sound strange for us to say that you should not trust everything you find on the internet about ghosts or the paranormal. Often on forums, for example, you will read some interesting stuff - although not necessarily information based on anything but Hollywood 'scaries'. Also people you ask might very well tell you about their experiences, many will be genuine and some might have a kernal of truth and others are back to Hollywood films again. Take on board only what appears to your point of view as good information and experience.
Another very good way of finding out about ghosts, spirits and the paranormal is to contact a reputable, local paranormal investigation group for the information. Good ones will always be pleased to freely help you in this way.
The minute that the child tells you that they have seen or heard a ghost - or even that they are sure a ghost is around - a problem arises straight away; is this a 'story', is this imagination, or did the child really see a ghost, or do they really believe that a ghost or spirit is actually there? Remember, children appear to be far more psychic than many parents, so what they say should not be immediately discounted as kid-talk.
If it is a story, then the child is seeing what reaction they are going to get and they know full well that ghosts are one of those things that will catch your attention. But then, how can you be sure that it is a story? There is every chance that they will stick to their story even when challenged and it's often the case that the more kids are challenged, the more firmly they will stick. If you are convinced that it is a story, then it's cleft stick time! Do you go along with the story and see if it was a one-off 'get a reaction' try - or is it a "Don't be silly!" situation?
The obvious weakness in using the first way is that it might backfire and encourage more such stories but it's the simplest and least stress-prone method if it works. The second way can immediately solve the situation once and for all but it can also set the ball rolling for imagination to take the story to the next level. Ghosts are one of those things that - once thought of - can play on a child's mind ... and as ghosts are presented by the media as 'out to get you' - it sometimes doesn't take long before worry sets in.
This is the most usual stage that a situation has reached when we receive an enquiry about children and ghosts. We hear that the child is stressed, anxious and fearful that there is a ghost around. Generally, if the child is certain that they really did see a ghost, being told not to be silly immediately puts the them into a situation where they could feel very alone with the situation. Whether the parents don't believe what the child says, or (very commonly) don't want to believe because of their own uneasiness, the child suddenly finds that ghosts are a taboo subject. In other words, it has become a subject that the child desperately needs to talk about and be reassured about - but cannot do so. If the child is convinced that the ghost is likely to be 'out to get them', imagine the stress that creates - and the escalation of the child's fears that could well ensue. Reassuring the child is the way to cope with this, even if the parent disbelieves or is in dire need of reassurance about ghosts themselves.
Note: This taboo is passed from generation to generation - the parent's parents instilled it in them, only for it to be passed on to their offspring ... We are not claiming that you, as a parent, should agree that ghosts exist; that is a matter of personal belief - but what we are asking is that dealing with those questions from the next generation is done objectively, not dismissively. Although we are a website that is based on the paranormal / supernatural, we would far rather a child is reassured that a particular imagined ghost did not exist but that the subject is not closed forever in the child's mind. Allowing children to continue to seek reassurance and speak openly on paranormal / supernatural subjects would not suddenly make the world full of ghosts but would allow the child - adolescent - adult - future parent to reach their own conclusions, objectively and in an open and positive way.
The 'presence' might be solely in the child's mind. The idea could have come into their mind for a host of reasons. It might be 'imagination' but it is very real to the child. To all intents and purposes it is as real to the child as if there is a 'presence' there in reality. So perhaps it is best to approach the situation as if there IS a ghost present.
Just dismissing what a child says is so easy to do but the repercussions can be very difficult to undo. Whether you, as a parent, believe that ghosts do or don't exist is not initially important and shouldn't influence how you respond - because the child believes that ghosts and spirits really exist. If you don't believe in ghosts, simply asserting that view can be damaging, as the child is torn between believing you and what it is experiencing as real. You would be amazed at how many people contact Perception9 Paranormal thinking that they are going mad; saying that they can't talk to anyone or just feel alone because of what they percieve as paranormally related experiences ... and they still have "Don't be silly!" echoing in their mind. It's that 'taboo' at work again.
Reassurance is so important:
Listen with sympathy and listen well - you're being told something that's very important to the child. Discuss the ghost as you would as if you were discussing a living person - it can help to take some of the 'strangeness' away. Ask what the child is seeing and hearing. Gently ask questions ... not pressuring ... and try to get the complete picture. Don't cast any doubts on what you are being told. This will build the child's confidence to tell you everything and it builds the child's trust that you will help them see this through.
If it appears that the child has frightened his or herself with their own 'imagination', it will become an imagination shared with you and you will find out what the child is seeing or hearing and believing to be a ghost. Often, you will be able to reassure the child by showing that the cause is just something normal happening. Often perfectly innocent things can take on a darker significance in a child's mind (and in an adult's too).
A couple of non ghost examples:
We were contacted by parents who said that their daughter was seeing a 'fuzzy' ghost, which glided across the top of her bedroom wall and which was throwing her toys from a shelf above her bed; sometimes throwing the toys at the girl when she was hiding under the bedding. They also said it had been going on for about a month. They contacted Perception9 Paranormal in October. They lived on the third floor of a housing complex overlooking countryside. The ghost turned out to be headlights from occasional vehicles climbing a farm track hill, about half a mile away and the lights were shining through the child's bedroom window. The curtains were never drawn as the window was not overlooked. It had been happening for the past month because the leaves had fallen and this allowed just enough light through from the headlights to make a 'fuzzy' image on the wall. The toys being 'thrown' always came off the shelf just over the bed. It was found that the shelf was very 'wobbly' and the bed itself was banging against the shelving supports. When the girl suddenly moved or jumped out of the bed, the bed knocked against the supports and toys often fell off the shelf. The 'ghost' was exorcised by closing the curtains, moving the bed an inch and using a screwdriver on the shelf.
A mother contacted us saying that both of her daughters were hearing footsteps approaching their bedroom door - but seeing nothing. She slept in with them and on the second evening, she heard it too and was, herself, convinced that they had a ghost. It was a house built during the 1960s and local authority owned. When we requested a local paranormal investigation group to look into it, they asked if there had been any alterations prior to the events taking place. They found out that a new central heating/hot water system had been installed - just a week before the noises started. As luck would have it, the evening the group were there, the noises happened. On investigation, the noises were coming from beneath flooring and it later became apparent that as the system shut down for the night, it sometimes (not always) made the noises a short time later. The group had to admit that the noises did sound exactly like footsteps - and were 'eerie' in the way the noise seemed to come down the landing towards the girls' bedroom door. This ghost was exorcised when the workmen came back and re-aligned the pipework. (This is not the only water-pipe related 'ghost' that we have had.)
We have included the two above examples simply to show that before you jump to any 'we have a ghost' conclusions - whether as a result of a child's fears or your own - looking at all other possibilities can account for much. An added bonus is that if you are looking around as a result of a child's fears, it goes a long way to reassure the child that there could be other reasons for what they have come to believe is ghostly activity.
It might appear, from reading the above, that Perception9 Paranormal is more about denying the existence of ghosts rather than helping people come to terms with the spirit world. Not so! We are firmly of the opinion that ghosts and spirits certainly do exist - but to be of any objective and real value to others, when it comes to the paranormal / supernatural, we must take a down-to-earth approach and start with all other explanations before we are sure that ghosts or spirits are involved.
We now come to the part where there is no other explanation and some form of ghost or spirit is indeed present and the child has rightly perceived it as such. Although we aim this section towards helping parents to help their children through a ghost experience, it is really a guide for all ages to come to terms with a haunting.
Going back to a point mentioned above, the ghost has probably made its presence known to the child - or the child has picked up on it - because children sometimes appear to be very psychic. Not wittingly so - but more open to psychic awareness.
First of all - Don't Panic!
From what your child tells you, you will be able to judge if the ghost is trying to make its presence known or if the child is only witnessing the ghost. A big difference!
If your child appears to be only witnessing the ghost - and the ghost is ignoring your child - then the chances are that the ghost is not interested in anything else but its own reasons for haunting your space.
If the ghost repeats its actions on every occasion, then it's probably not an aware ghost. Your child has 'switched into' a re-run of past events rather than an aware presence being there - much like a video repeating. The same goes for noises - such as footsteps ... always the same number, usually at the same time and always from the same place. You can straight away reassure your child and yourself if this is the case. Look at it as a 'recording' rather than something being there. It might be something that becomes an event - occuring when the 'recording' is 'timed' to run. Odd ones really but no threat whatsoever.
As a matter of interest, if your property is old, the betting would be that this 'ghost recording' experience has been previously witnessed by others in the past, your child being just the latest to witness it. If the property is new, the chances are that the 'ghost' will be following the old lay-out of previous premises or whatever was there before.
Difficult to get rid of - as this kind of event seems to be associated with - or is 'stamped on' - the surrounds rather than anything else. So unless you want to pull the place down, there's little you can do as you're not dealing with a presence. Having said that, you might try cleansing rituals - your local paranormal investigation group might do this free of charge - or a local witch or wiccan if you know one. The cleansing will act on your property's energies rather than eradicate the 'recording' - but that could help - it's certainly worth trying.
If the ghost ignores everything and everybody but acts differently every time, it is more like your child is viewing somebody through a 'window'. Your psychic child is looking through the 'window' but the ghost is not aware that it is being watched. Again, it might be tied to the place and to some unfulfilled task the ghost is trying to accomplish. To the ghost, your child, you and everything now around does not exist. They might not even be aware that they are dead - or are in denial on that score - so that they do not see what they do not wish to see. In this case, the reassurance comes from the ghost's non-interaction with the physical world.
In no way try to make contact with this form of ghost because you might be making a rod for your own back. If you do break through it's cocoon, you'll no doubt have a total nuisance on your hands as it will grasp the opportunity to 'employ' all and sundry to aid it in its task. It will 'bug' the heck out of your child if your child is the only one that it can interact with. It will be ever present, and could be moody, sulky and a total pain if it's not achieving what it wants.
The variation of this type of ghost is the one that noticed the 'window' for themselves - i.e. your child's psychic abilities - and has roared straight through to get the help they need - using your child's psychic ability to do so. If you find that the ghost is giving stories of unrequited anything, is searching for something etc. etc. - you have a ghost which is tied to something still left undone in its mind. An Earthbound ghost, anchored by its needs. Sounds very Disney-like but it is quite common. You can try some semi-reassurance with your child by saying that the ghost is not after them but needs help.
Another piece of semi-reassurance - more for yourself really - is that the ghost has 'made a move'. It has gone from being aware of only it's own 'quest world' - to awareness of the current situation that it finds itself in. To have made that move, it has started along the path to 'untrapping' itself and to the potential of 'moving on'. Sometimes the ghosts that are not aware that life has gone from them will come to terms with that of their own accord and move on by themselves. The move to becoming aware of its situation is potentially good for the ghost and - while it might not seem like it at the time - potentially good for everyone concerned.
If you can communicate with the ghost, you might be able to get it to move on - or you might make the situation worse. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of ghosts and spirits are not stupid. They will know that you want them out without their needs being met and dig their heels in. Ghosts and spirits like this are very much like people - because they were people once!
With both variations of this type of ghost, the best reassurance is to request a visit from a local and reputable paranormal investigation group, either directly if you know such a group or through us. We have a network of good groups who will not charge (unless expenses are incurred - and often, not even then) The reason being that the ghost will move on as a result of its needs being met or by persuasion - and reputable investigation groups are very experienced in doing this.
You can try your local church but our experience indicates that this can be a bit hit and miss. Some are exceedingly good as they will work with the ghost or spirit to move it on, others will rely on a 'cleansing by blessing' ritual. Sometimes this might work but often it seems to quieten the ghost for a period after which it starts its haunting again, almost as if it went into hiding rather than disappearing.
The next 'form' of ghost is the return of the spirit of someone close to the family. Children are often the ones to pick this up first. Frequently, with adults, it will be a 'feeling' of the person being there.
If the spirit is there for benevolent reasons and the child is not stressed because they are pleased to have the lost one return, then it is up to you whether to let it happen or to stop the spirit returning. If the spirit is 'checking up' on things, why stop it? This is a situation that you can handle as the spirit will heed your wishes. A usual method is to ask the spirit to 'soften' its presence to being a 'feeling' rather than apparitional - but to know that they are welcome. In this way, you know that they are there for you.
The child might still talk to the spirit - might even try to use their psychic ability to see the spirit but a loving spirit will understand and just give enough to keep the child feeling secure. They work with you - not against.
A different form of family spirit (or friend/acquaintance) is when there is another reason for it to come back. Again, it could be your child or children who pick this up first - or they might be the only ones that such a spirit will interact with. There are countless reasons for this to happen, not all sinister but instead of the benevelent spirit's outward concern for others, this kind of spirit is only concerned about its own reasons for returning - so it could be a bit 'bad penny' like.
This is not a 'haunting' - as in a ghost that has been there for years - more like a ghost that has recently come back to haunt for a reason of its own. It might need 'moving on' as it could be the early stages of a spirit becoming trapped or Earthbound. Or it might need to be 'evicted', as it knows exactly how to move on but has chosen not to do so - or is flitting between the 'spirit world' (easiest way to term it) and your place. The reassurance in this case is that it can be dealt without too much hassle.
We have covered moving a spirit or ghost on. Evicting a ghost that is flitting between 'realms' is a bit more complicated - if it is simply 'moved on', it might just go out of the 'back door' and back in through the 'front door' as it is using it's free will to be where it wants to be. Rather than go into detail, all that we will put here is that those experienced in removing ghosts will employ the right method. Again, to get a ghost presence appraised properly and dealt with properly, the above contacts remain the same.
We have run through the 'forms' of ghosts and spirits where some kind of connection, as to why they are 'haunting' you, can fairly easily be made. They are the ones where reassuring a child, who is psychically picking up their presence, may not be easy in every case but many fears can be quelled. The main thing with those forms of ghost is that you can treat them with respect - just as though they were alive - some might not respond that way though. For varying reasons, being contrary sometimes suits a ghost's purposes better.
The next form could be a ghost, a spirit or some other form of 'entity'. The arrival can be sudden - or very commonly, things progress from small, initially odd happenings. These seem to be the ones that we hear about most, perhaps because they fit the current paranormal / supernatural ideas that have taken root in people's minds - kids included. The more 'understandable' ones, listed above, make up the majority of ghosts and hauntings and many seemingly 'heavier' forms of paranormal phenomena will prove to be a variation on an understandable one. But not all. As a rule of thumb and to reassure - the 'heavier' the phenomena actually is - the rarer it is.
Children seem to unerringly pick up on the progressive ones at a very stage - so if they let you know, it is important to try to discount the possibility by finding other explanations straight away. If none are found and the phenomena seem to be progressing, again don't wait - get help as soon as you can. The same applies to the sudden arrival variety. The reasons why it happens - the variations in circumstances - the form that such a manifestation takes ... we could go on and on endlessly.
If the events are really stressing children, it might sound somewhat drastic and over the top but taking them out of the situation until it is resolved - if possible - is something to consider. Maybe staying with friends or relatives for a few days. Their welfare is more important than what others might think. It is that reasoning again - even if others do not think that events are paranormally / supernaturally based - the children do ... and they need peace of mind.
By saying that, we might be taken to task by those who do not believe in the paranormal / supernatural - and that we are scare mongering to somehow benefit ourselves. Or that we are actually being more irresponsible by saying that there might be a paranormal / supernatural cause and it is wise to be cautious on those very rare occasions. Whether you believe or not, whether it is imagination running riot or paranormal phenomena, surely it is best to err on the side of safety.
Going back to such events appearing to have a paranormal / supernatural cause - please get help in as soon as you can because it is the quickest route to reassurance. If it is paranormal, it can be dealt with - if it isn't, then other causes will be found and fears removed.
Things not to do:
We have tried to cover the things to do but there are also some things which are wisest not to do or try.
Don't think "Great! A ghost!" and set up a Ouija Board or similar and involve the child as if it were a game. It is not!! The worst case scenario would be that if there is a presence there, you are giving it it's own door to both your mind, as well as your child's - items such as the ouija are a psychic focus in a situation like that. And certainly don't try to have a seance, for the same reason. Both are safe if done by those with understanding and experience but 'giving it a whirl' is not to be recommended. Added to which, you have introduced your child to something with far more potential repercussions than a ghost floating about. When the ouija or seance 'goes wrong', it can introduce fear into adult minds, let alone a child's - in most cases, it is an ungrounded worry but in a few cases that we have come across, situations have worsened or have been introduced.
On the other hand, the best case scenario of using the ouija or doing a seance is not much better - if nothing happens - and you pretend to have conjured it all away - what do you say to your child if the problem is still there?
By the same token, don't try Tarot Card communication (or other such methods). The tarot is absolutely fine to use for what it is meant to do. Unless you are an expert on this form of psychic interaction with the paranormal, please don't try it for the same reasons given above.
If word gets round that you have a ghost, it probably won't be long before you are told about somebody local who who can tell amazingly accurate fortunes, communicate with dead relatives and do all manner of psychic things. Be very wary about such claims to start with. Before you let them near to your place, check them out as thoroughly as you can - they might be everything you were told but be sure. If they are not what they claim, it can worsen a situation if they come along and dabble. If they ask for a small fee as many do, that's up to you. But if they ask for an amazing amount of money, don't bother with them unless you have been satisfied that they are truly value for that sum. There are a lot of people who cash in on other people's paranormal misfortune without a clue about anything except taking your money.
We hope that this article has been helpful.