Sunday, November 15, 2009

Telling kids about Ghosts

This new study goes against what I have always been told and I don't think I will use the recommendation. I don't like the idea of telling a kid there is such a thing as monsters and then later on telling them that isn't true. It rubs me the wrong way.

Then again, maybe I am being a hypocrite. I do think you can compare the study to things like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. We tell kids there is this "fantasy"until they hit a certain age. Then we say, "Oh yah, that wasn't true." Don't get me wrong, I love the excitement and everything that comes with Santa, but I do feel strange fibbing to the kids.

What do you think about this sleep study?

FROM CNN: A new study in the journal Child Development suggests that reassuring kids by telling them scary images aren't real is helpful for those around 7 and up, but for the younger ones it may not be preferred. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that when preschoolers get scared, they prefer to think of the fantastical threat as "nice."

Children ages 4, 5, and 7 were asked questions about stories involving a protagonist of the same gender encountering real and imaginary creatures such as bears, snakes and dragons. They found that the girls tended to suggest that the protagonist avoid the creatures, while boys wanted to attack them.

The study's recommendation that may seem counterintuitive to parents is that even though 4-year-olds recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, they would rather be comforted by a positive pretense than by the notion that "it's not real."

In other words, if a child believes there's a boogie monster under the bed, parents should say that it's friendly or "wants to play" in the heat of the moment, rather than dismissing the fear by saying it's all in the child's head, they said. Later, when he or she has calmed down, parents can explain that the monster was not real, the study authors say.

Dawn Huebner, a psychologist in Exeter, New Hampshire, and author of "What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety," disagrees. If children are old enough to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, they should learn to cope with the idea that the image that haunts them is not real.

Parents can teach their children how to differentiate fears in their heads from actual danger, she said. Concepts such as "false alarms" can help kids understand that the fear they feel does not mean there is an actual threat, and that they can reassure themselves.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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