When Children See Ghosts (A Medium's Guide For Parents)
It can be hard for a parent to understand what a child is going through when they haven't ever seen a ghost for themselves.
As a child I saw ghosts and there were times when I lived in pure fear of them. I’ve also been a parent, who just wants their child to go to bed at night without any drama, so I understand the emotion on both sides of this challenge.
I get calls from parents who want me to help them with their child because they don’t know how to fix the problem and they don’t know what to do.
Most parents expect a child to go through a “stage” where they’re afraid of the dark and don’t want to sleep alone. But when a child is very afraid, to the point of being terrified, and they’re talking about seeing ghosts, in a very real, emotionally charged way, it’s not just a stage.
If you don’t handle it with compassion, your child will never forgive you for your lack of support when they really needed you the most.
I’ve found that in sharing a bit about my experiences as a child, I am able to bring some compassion and understanding to the conversation.
Once a parent realizes that this is not about fixing their child so much as it’s about finding solutions, and building coping skills, most parents relax and work the plan.
Hopefully my story and perspective can help.
I want you to consider what seeing ghosts feels like from your child’s point of view, then I’ll give you some tips on how to help your child through the process.
Let's start by imagining what it would feel like to see ghosts.
When I was ten, this is what an average night looked like for me.
I’m alone. The room is cold and darkness closes in around me. The air is heavy, thick, and unnaturally still.
I can feel It watching me as It silently grows in strength. It is coming for me. It’s not the first time this has happened.
Breathless, I wait. I know what happens next. The terror claws its way up from my stomach and into my chest. I must not scream, I must hold it in. My stomach rolls and I fight the urge to vomit. I’ve left it too long to push back across the bed, to push up against the wall, or to hide.
It’s here now, lowering itself down onto the edge of my bed, leaning in and over me, ever so close. It shows me its pale withered face, but I can’t quite make out the detail. I try not to look It in the eyes, but they’re mesmerizing and somehow familiar. I’m suffocating in ice cold fear. So close now, it shares my breath.
It reaches out, I close my eyes, and I feel long bony fingers caress my cheek. I pull away from It, but the bed holds me in place. I grab my blankets and pull them over my face. I don’t want It touching my skin. I just want It to go away, but It won’t go away and neither can I.
I panic. I close my eyes and wish It will just get bored and go away. I open them again really fast because not looking is worse. Frantic, I pull at my pillows, scrunching them down over my forehead and around my ears, so It can’t touch my head again. Covering up always makes me feel safer, but tonight it doesn’t help much.
It wants something from me, but I don’t know what. It never talks to me, but then maybe I’m too afraid to hear it speak. Hours seem to pass, but morning never arrives. We watch each other for a long time.
I weigh the trouble I could get in if I go for help against the horror of staying put. It’s moving around my room now, examining my stuff in its creepy, otherworldly way, looking at me now and then. I wish I could just sleep and avoid It.
I gauge the distance between The Dead and the door. I consider the odds that if I make it out, my parents will just make me come back here again. I know the consequences well, but I can’t stand to stay here alone any longer.
I plan, I calculate, and I dodge out of bed, down the hall, and into the darkened doorway of my parents room. Did my movement surprise It or did It let me leave?
I can hear the soft even hiss of my parents breath as they sleep. It won’t follow me here. Too many people, I guess. Do I dare try this again? I look down the hall to my room and hesitate. I’m afraid to turn back and I’m afraid to stay here.
Desperate, I creep into my parents’ room as silently as I can. I’m careful to step where I know the floor won’t creak. I’m worried about waking them and I’m cold. I drop quietly to the floor and curl up into a ball beside the bed.
I lay tense, listening to the steady breathing coming from the bed above, there is no movement, so I must be safe. They’re asleep. I close my eyes and pray they won’t notice me before morning. Eventually I sleep.
Seeing The Dead isn’t a pleasant experience. It takes practice and work to manage your fears.
My mother grew up listening to the ghost stories of my grandmother’s youth. She didn’t see Spirit herself, but she believed the stories.
My grandmother was the first baby born on the grounds of Blackness Castle in over one hundred years. It was a haunted place and she grew up with the presence of ghosts around her every day. She would tell stories of them moving the furniture around downstairs at night while she slept. My great-grandmother was psychic and always knew things before they happened.
Mom says that from the time I could talk, it was obvious that I could see Spirit. I had an invisible brother that I would play with for hours. I always knew when things were going to happen that would affect me.
Once, when I was three, I argued with my Grandma (Dad’s side) that Mom was bringing me home dolls. I was impatient for her to get home from work. Grandma knew we couldn’t afford any extras and she didn’t want me to be disappointed. She was shocked and delighted when my Mom walked in that night with a big bag of dolls.
Mom explained that her district manager had unexpectedly come into the store and that they’d scrapped a bunch of opened and damaged toys. Mom was able to get permission to bring them home to me. Over time little things like this happened a lot and it convinced my mother that I could see Spirit. She chose to encouraged my abilities. They were never something to medicate or shame out of me. She couldn’t help me with my fears because she didn’t understand them but she tried. She always asked a lot of questions and we would work through it as best we could. She never shared my grandmother’s stories with me because she thought I was to young.
My father was the typical Dad of his time, always at work and always too busy. He didn’t understand that I was afraid of some ghosts but not others. He thought that if he was firm, I would grow out of the phase I was in, sleep in my bed, and just be normal. In hindsight, I think it bothered him that he couldn’t fix my problems for me, so he just wanted them to go away.
All of this was occurring in the seventies when people weren’t as open minded as they are now. All of these experiences left me feeling alone, misunderstood and like an outcast. I thought there was something wrong with me, I knew my Mom wouldn’t admit it to me because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.
Then, when I was eight, I got the chance to go to Scotland with my Grandmother and it changed my life.
I met my great aunts and we toured around Scotland visiting all of the expected tourist traps and places of interest. I was amazed. Here was a place where EVERYONE believed in ghosts and if you didn’t you were just daft. We visited many places but The Binn’s Estate tour was amazing. All the stories of ghosts, documented examples of things that could only happen by unnatural means… was such a relief to me!
My aunt told me that Canada was a relatively young country compared with Scotland. So many wars had been fought there. It only made sense that some of the people who died suddenly or brutally didn’t cross over well. We had visited the blackness dungeons that still had skeletons from the people who had been left there to die. Western Canada doesn’t have a lot of that stuff.
It made me feel better. Here was a country full of people who shared similar experiences and they were all just living their lives despite it. They live alongside the Dead and it’s just normal. All the angst I was feeling inside about being broken just melted away. I was normal and instead of feeling bad about it, I decided on some level to just own it.
Scotland was a miracle for me that I held onto for a long time.
People underestimate how hard it is to be different, especially when so many people just want to believe that you’re trying to pull a scam. It’s hard as a child not to be affected when people accuse you of being a witch or of worshiping Satan. You know they’re wrong but you’re still the one to pay the cost for their ignorance.
As a parent it must be a debilitating experience to watch as your child struggles with something you just don’t understand.
When I was ten my great aunts came from Scotland to Canada.
My Mom forbid me from talking about the ghost who liked to visit my bedroom. This is the entity I described above. We had only lived in the house for a couple of months. Mom believed her aunts would refuse to stay with us if they knew the house was haunted. Aunt Sally stayed in my room.
She got up in the morning, settled in at breakfast with a nice cup of tea as if everything was normal. Then Aunt Sally politely inquired about the man with his tombstone that had come to visit her in the night. She went on to describe him in detail, exactly as I had. My Dad was forced to accept that there was someone in my room because this was the only explanation that made sense. Dad was a bit more supportive after that.
My point in this long winding story is threefold.
First, it helps when children know that other people see spirit too. Second, being haunted is very scary and you feel trapped. You know its going to happen and you know you can’t stop it. Third, as a parent, you need to consider the impact that your attitude has, on how your child feels about him/her self.
What should a parent do, when their Kids See Ghosts?
As a parent, I’ve gotten to experienced these issues from the other side. I’m a mother of two boys, who know I see Spirit, so I’ve had to wonder what they’re seeing versus what they’re imagining. I have an advantage here but any parent can tell when their child is genuinely upset and terrified. My advice is to trust your child’s emotional reactions and look for clues that will help you to figure out what’s actually going on.
Know that Ghosts are not Spirit Guides or Angels!
I’ve met clients who have encouraged their children to welcome ghosts in and make friends with them. Ghosts are dead people that haven’t gone to the light yet. They can be angry, sad, desperate for your help, or just wanting to hang out. Each one is unique. Sometimes a family member needs to communicate before they move on. Who they were when they were alive is a pretty good measure of who they are before they go to the light. They all need to go to the light.
I can’t say this enough! Ghosts and other entities can be dangerous. They deserve your respect in the same way that you would respect a great white shark while swimming with one.
Just because you’re old or dead doesn’t make you nice or trustworthy! Ghosts and other entities can be dangerous. If your child lets them into their space, they can become controlling, and then things get much worse. There is a reason the Catholic Church does exorcism!
There is a difference in how a ghost will make you feel, when compared to a visit from a Spirit Guide or an Angel.
Respect that feeling because it will keep you safe. Ghosts can look creepy, decayed bodies, floating heads, hovering fingers, because they don’t know how to build up properly or they need to be really angry to do it. Building up so that we can see them takes lots of energy, practice, and focus. We see ghosts because they want us too. Ghosts usually don’t like white light or God Source energy. If you have something particularly dark in your home, they definitely won’t like God Source Energy. If it’s bad enough, I would move to a different home.
Guides are souls that have been with you in spirit for as long as you’ve been in body. They feel very familiar, like a best friend, and they come in love and they are in the light. Children who play with invisible friends are often playing with their guides. The guide’s vibration is higher, they may look or feel like an Angel and it puts you at ease. I never found guides scary and they frequently help keep the other stuff away. If you send them white light, they absorb it and feel welcome. You can’t piss a guide off! Guides are the easiest for people to communicate with and they are here to help us work through our stuff. They use God Source Energies to build up their energies so that we can see them. They never come in anger.
Angels have a very high frequency but they radiate instant love and you can feel their warmth radiate through every molecule of your being. You are instantly attracted to them and you will remember the encounter for a very long time. Angels will knock you out. Energy wise, they’re very strong. They usually come in times of crisis or when fifty people need to see them all at once. They have the power to keep you in your body when you’re hurt. Angels can protect you from evil. I always ask God to send me his Angels for protection when I am scared.
For more Information on Angels and Guides please see this article.
Here’s how to help your child when they are seeing ghosts.
For convenience I am going to refer to your child as “she”. It’s important to note that just because your child is afraid of the dark does not mean that she sees or feels Spirit. It can just mean that she is afraid. These steps should work in both instances.
First, don’t freak out and don’t ignore the situation. Look for patterns.
Is this something new? Could there be a reason in your child’s life that they are looking for extra attention? Is your child consistently (over a period of weeks, don’t wait months) behaving differently then they normally would, because they are afraid. Keep in mind that ghosts aren’t just an issue at night, look for changes in the daylight behaviour as well. I wouldn’t play in my room as a child when we lived in the home that was haunted. I didn’t want to be left alone even if the alternative was spending time with my sister or someone I would normally avoid. When my grandmother died and I knew she was coming to see me, I wouldn’t go to the washroom alone, I was that scared. I loved and trusted my grandma, I missed her so much but I couldn’t handle that experience then.
Sit your child down to talk. Be prepared to listen.
The goal is to understand how your child feels and what she thinks is going on. It’s not about providing solutions just yet. Have a list of questions that you want to ask so that you can have this conversation once or twice and be done with it.
I try not to reward a child for the stories that they can tell or it can quickly becomes a game.
Choose a time when everyone is relaxed and there is no drama. Just before bed would not be a good time for this talk.
I would have this discussion in the car for the following reasons:
- Conversations in the car tend to be more casual. The atmosphere is more relaxed so your child is more likely to talk.
- You are away from the stressful environment. She doesn’t need to worry about who might be listening.
- You’re driving, so eye contact is less frequent and not awkward. Some children don’t process their thoughts into dialogue well when an adult is making eye contact with them. It can make your child nervous and defensive, especially when the topic is a sensitive one.
- You have a captive audience, at least until you reach your destination.
- If you time your drive right, there’s less chance of interruption before you’re done. Choose a time when it’s just you and your child in the car, leave siblings and friends at home. Turn off your cell phone.
- You will eventually reach your destination so the conversation can’t last forever.
Raise the topic casually.
You want to be in a relaxed state and a good mood. You don’t want to start the conversation in tension or with any agression. Start by asking questions that encourage your child to share. Perhaps something like, “Hey, what’s up with bed time? Why are you so freaked out?” If you’re relaxed, she will be relaxed. Don’t make it a big deal.
Here are some very simple sample questions to keep the talk going. I offer this list because I have seen parents who were totally lost talking about things like this. It’s not hard, just do it. Just be genuinely interested!
What’s going on?
What do you mean by that?
Do you actually see them? (It’s not unusual to just feel ghosts or to just see a thick heavy shadow. Looking at a ghost can feel physically heavy on you. It can be hard to explain.)
What do they look or feel like?
Do you know who they are? (If it’s Grandma and you were close, then this is about working through fear more than protection.)
How do you feel, when they are there?
Do they get close to you or just stand at a distance? (This is important because it can impact how you choose to deal with the situation.)
Do they come every night or only sometimes? Or only when you are happy or sad?
Do they get bigger or easier to see when your scared? (Ghosts can feed off fear so this is a bad sign.)
Do you think they want to hurt you, do you know them (how), are they just passing through? (Some entities travel with you, others are attached to the physical place. It’s possible to have one latch on to you and follow you home.)
Why do you think that? (I would ask this one a lot, you get way more info with this one.)
Is there more than one? ( In my experience hauntings are not usually a group activity unless you are in a place where many people died, like a very old hospital.)
What do they do in your room?
Can you talk to them? What do they say? (The more fearful your child is, the less likely they are to know what’s being said. If they do talk, how do you hear them might be a good question because it may be really soft or like their voice is in their head. Both are okay answers. If they say it’s like they hear you while you’re speaking, it might be a warning that something smells fishy.)
What do you do when they come? (Does this answer make sense given what you know about your child?)
Can the dog see them? (Animals can usually sense them.)
Do they touch you? What does that feel like?
You get the idea! The goal is to understand what’s going on and then decide if what your child is telling you sounds right.
Encourage your child to really share their experience with you. It doesn’t matter if you believe in what she says. You want to decide if you believe that she believes it.
The goal is to understand what your son or daughter feels is going on and then to validate those feelings as legitimate.
You want to acknowledge that your child feels the way she does and that she has a right to feel that way. I could be afraid of sharks in the bathtub, which is silly, but if I am really afraid, you need to acknowledge that I have a right to feel afraid, because I am having that experience. You telling me that’s silly won’t help. Until you give your child that, until she knows that you understand how she feels and that you care, she will not move past this emotional state to one of healing.
Even if you think it’s ridiculous, if it’s how she feels or what she thinks, it matters because it effects her! Children never forget how you react to their emotional pain. Teasing and criticism or doubting and denying your child’s feelings will only cause lasting hurt and trust issues.
Your child will not trust your advice until she knows that it is genuinely given. It’s more important at this point to establish a connection than it is to offer up a solution. Sometimes there is more value in saying, “I’m not sure what to do, let me think about it, maybe do some research, and then get back to you”.
If your child has a solution that works, that doesn’t cost you much, like leaving lights on, or sleeping on the floor in the hallway, let them. Sleeping on the floor isn’t comfortable so if this is a game and you play along, it won’t last long. If it helps her, why not just do it?
I used to love leaving everything laying around my room, but when I had ghosts visiting on a regular basis and I was afraid, I cleaned up anything that was easy to move like toy cars or loose paper. I didn’t want stuff hanging over my head that could be pushed into motion. A dream catcher is great until its swinging full tilt on its own steam. Then it’s just another reason to get the heck out of there!
When adults are quick to offer a solution, it robs children of the ability to form their own opinions, come to their own conclusions, and to solve their own problems. Even if you don’t understand why something helps, empower your children to deal with their stuff.
Make your child’s room less friendly for ghosts.
You need to ask your child some specific questions. Most ghosts will arrive in a room at the same spot every time they enter the room. If they walk through the wall in that spot or show up at the foot of the bed, that’s useful to know.
Go buy some salt rock lamps, they don’t have to be big. I suggest you check out the liquidation or health food stores in town because sometimes you can find a real bargain. You want to place the rock lamps in the spot where it will block visitors from entering the room or getting too close to your child.
Salt rocks emit negative ions naturally into the air. These ions can make it hard for a soul that has not gone into the light to build up. It’s very annoying and most ghosts will stay away from them. It provides a similar experience to smudging without the smell or fuss. I have a huge salt lamp in my reading room that I turn on when clients leave to clean the space.
Think about adding twinkle lights to the room on an extension cord that has an on/off switch. This way your child can control the lights from bed and use them when she needs them. It’s nice to be able to turn on a light without sticking your hand out too far or having to actually get out of bed.
Parents forget that it’s really icky to be touched by The Dead. It’s a truly creepy experience. If you’re going to risk getting out of bed, it will probably be to leave the room for good.
Does your child like to hide under lots of pillows and stuffed animals at night?
This is a classic avoidance technique. I would rather sweat and overheat then have my bare legs, arms, or feet exposed. Make sure your child has a cool blanket for warm nights. My favourite has always been a v-striped crocheted blanket or one that has tiny holes in it that allows a little bit of air to pass through. If the holes are too big, you can put your finger through them, then the blanket is useless.
Amazon sells these awesome little tents or canopies for twin sized beds that I think are great because they fit over the top 1/3 of the bed. They’re about $40. What they do is create a barrier between your child and whatever wants to lean in over them. The best part is that they are designed for fun so no one has to wonder why your child has one.
Some children can be very self conscious about seeing Spirit. You might want to think about attaching the switch for the twinkle lights to the edge of the inside of the canopy.
Use a fan in the room and position it close to the bed. It doesn’t need to be a big one. It sounds crazy but it works and I think a fan can be the single most useful tool that a parent can offer.
A fan moves air. This makes it harder for Spirit to build up. Remember that they have to build up to be seen and felt. Air movement and white noise make it easier for your child to block out all the creepy stuff that Spirit brings with them. It will make them feel safe. My sons are in their thirties now and both still sleep with one at night.
If your child has Rocks or Crystals that they like to collect, keep them in a place where they get lots of natural sunlight and/or bathe them under lukewarm water once a week. Keeping tools clean is important. If your child has crystals but doesn’t sleep with their crystals and rocks next to them, you may want to consider moving the lot to another room in the house. Crystals amplify energy.
I think it’s important to include your child in setting up their room for sleep. She should know why you are adding things to her room so that she feels confident that you are listening and making the situation better. When my son went through this stage, we did all of this. We just never made a big deal out of it. It was a very causal attitude, “Ok, you’re seeing ghosts, here’s what you do, moving on now.” This was always my approach. Being sensitive doesn’t make you special. Being you does. This was always my message.
When I make a big deal out of something, the kids will too.
Hold your child accountable for using the tools that you provide. If your daughter says that she is having problems ask the questions. “Did you use your salt lamp, your fan, are you doing your prayer for protection?” I always start with that.
There were times when my son was growing up that he slacked off on his routine and then suddenly found himself with visitors again. I would listen compassionately and then ask the questions, “Are you using your fan, salt rock, white light?” If the answer was no, then there was no sympathy from me because the issue was now about personal responsibility.
If you have ever cleaned a messy room because it got so bad your child was overwhelmed by it, you understand. Kids need to do the day to day, but when they fall down, we have to be there to get them back on track again.
You may need to go in every so often and clean up the energy with a good clearing and airing out. I mean that literally. Open the windows and exchange all of the air. Move furniture around. Cozy corners are lovely for ghosts because they have a tight physical space to build their energy up in. Stack stuffed animals there or add a bookcase. Move those salt lamps around during the day if you need to.
I don’t recommend putting your child to bed with an iPod or TV. Sleep is very important. People are at their most vulnerable and impressionable when they’re sleeping. Music has a vibration and a lot of popular music isn’t good for us. The message music sends goes straight to the subconscious when you sleep. What messages do you want your children absorbing?
People underestimate the power of energy. Even when someone in your home isn’t sensitive to energy or the presence of Spirit, you need to consider what you read and watch on TV. Violent programs, horror movies, or any program involving ghosts should really be off limits for the whole family. When you play this stuff in your space it creates an energy that you amplify. Fear in the house is never a good thing. You may think you’re having fun, but fear is a negative energy that ghosts can use to feed off of. It can take days to dissipate. It fuels the imagination.
Ghosts are attracted to people who can sense them. They will find you wherever you go. I had to learn from Spirit, how to protect myself from other entities.
You can’t sleep on your parents floor forever. It took a long time for me to get over my fear and let down my defensiveness enough to listen to what my Guides, Angels and (dead) Grandmother were trying to tell me.
They taught me a way to wrap myself in light. The light acts as a filter so that I can create my own personal space. Once I got good at it 80% of the truly scary stuff went away. I still see people but I don’t have all the heavy icky creepy stuff going on every day. I can see my Guides and I can create the space to see others when I want, but everyone usually stays out of my space when I need them too. I know how to push them away so I feel in control. I just have to be consistent with my routine.
I do teach a course on spiritual Protection that may be available on the Learn Page.
Take the time and teach your child to protect herself. Show her how to isolate her energy from everything else, ground to the earth for healing, and to connect with Source for strength. This way when she goes to bed she will be ready for sleep. When she gets to sleep she will be able to stay asleep. I encourage everyone to make a nightly prayer or meditation part of your sacred daily routine.
This course will teach you and your children how to isolate yourself from this kind of stuff. It’s amazing and it’s also the reason I can sleep at night now! Teach your child to use these techniques if they are seeing Spirit. It will change their lives.
If your child follows the same nightly ritual before bed, the body will begin to anticipate sleep. This is half of the battle. When a child is in fear, they are helpless. When you give a child tools, they can protect themselves and fight (or light) back.
Parents have asked, “My kids are seeing ghosts, should I move?”
Clairvoyance is the ability to see energy and Spirit. It doesn’t go away when you move homes. Moving homes may or may not help. Some ghosts are stuck in a particular place, others move around like we do. The ghost from the story above stayed with the house, thank God!
I have found new people in the places we have moved to. As an adult, I take a lot of time feeling out where I want to live, before we purchase a home. I will not live by a funeral home, a graveyard, hospice, old folks home, or hospital. You can’t control everything but this helps.
Some places are just haunted, no matter who lives there, the ghost is strong enough that everyone feels its presence. So then you need to decide if that spirit is friendly or not. I wouldn’t live in a home with an angry ghost who didn’t want me there because I don’t want to always be on guard. Houses like these are rare so I choose to minimize my roommates.
You can try and force a ghost to get out of your space but it’s hard to move a strong entity and you’ll piss it off more by trying. Honestly, I would move. I have enough on my plate dealing with my guides and the recently departed that just want to pass on a message. I’m not interested in a turf war with an entity that scares me to death.
Should you get your child a pet to provide comfort and security?
When my son was about 12 he decided that he wanted a Pit bull or some other big, mean looking dog. We have allergies in the home so I gave him the option of a standard poodle and he was so frustrated. Eventually we compromised on a Portuguese Water Dog, insane choice by the way but that’s a different article!
My son talked about walking the dog, playing with the dog, having a buddy. He didn’t really talk about wanting protection from Ghosts and I was so busy that I didn’t pick up on what was driving his sudden passion for a dog. I always wanted a dog so I took it at face value, big mistake, LOL.
Ocean settled into our home and my son was really happy at first. The problem was, when my kid saw a ghost, so did the dog. It would growl and watch the area that the ghost was in, confirming for my son that something was actually there. The dog felt his fear. This made the situation worse. My son hadn’t counted on that or considered what a situation like this might look like. It just freaked him out more, until he fessed up and we worked through it. The dog didn’t help him in the way he had planned.
Make sure you have “the conversation” and make sure the expectations are reasonable before you get a dog.
For me, having a dog has always been a great help. I wasn’t alone, we were in it together. I never expected my dog to drive the ghosts away, I just didn’t want to be alone with them. I never wanted a dog because I saw spirit. I wanted a dog because a dog represented a faithful companion, best friend, most awesome thing in the world, except for maybe a horse. Setting reasonable expectations is important. No pet should be a crutch.
I wish you and your family the best of luck as you learn to adapt to Spirit in your home. I was lucky enough to have a Mom who was very practical and supportive. I hope that you are able to find this balance with your child.
If you have any questions, please contact me and I will try to answer them for you.