• Imaginary Friend or Real Ghost? A Deeper Look Into Kids Who Can 'See'

    When your child can see and sense things no one else can, is it a product of his vibrant imagination, or could he have an open "third eye"?
    by Ria Tinio .
  • kid black and white

    “During the last 25 years, more and more children with highly developed psychic faculties are being born on planet Earth. One writer called them ‘Indigo Children,’ after the color of the Third Eye or Brow Chakra which is the seat of clairvoyance and intuition. These children are highly intelligent, intuitive, clairvoyant, and sensitive to other people and their environment. They see and hear things that ordinary people don’t see or hear.” —Jaime T. Licauco


    Growing up, I’d always felt different from everyone else. When I was about three years old, I used to see bright dots of light swishing about and forming shapes. I told my older sisters about this, but they just made fun of my “poor eyesight,” even after our ophthalmologist declared my vision perfect. I could never fall asleep at night as I always sensed a certain danger lurking somewhere in the dark. And I would often surprise my family by blurting out statements about people I thought were common knowledge. They would always tell me to behave, to stop making things up, or to stop judging others.

    Later on, I’d find out that my comment had actually been accurate, but by that time, no one would remember what I had said, or that I had been unjustly reprimanded.

    I eventually willed the dots of light away and learned some tricks that helped me fall asleep at night. But I also noticed that I was able to jump to the correct conclusion in a story or answer in a class discussion long before anyone else—as though I was always several steps ahead of what was going on.

    Whenever this happened, my classmates would tease me for saying weird things. But my answers were always correct. Suffice it to say, I often felt very isolated, misunderstood, confused, and depressed. As my family and school were very traditional, no one ever ventured that I might have a heightened sensitivity to psychic matters.

    It was only when I was 25 years old that I was able to confirm that all my bizarre experiences arose from my being psychic. With this discovery came a sense of relief—and wonder. I finally made sense of my strange habits, and realized that I was actually able to use them for good. Instead of brushing off my gut feel or kutob, I learned to listen to it. I was better able to empathize with people and help with their problems.

    And most fascinating of all, I could many times see what was going to happen to people, and, while I never told them their whole “future,” I was able to give them a sense of hope with regard to the paths they were taking. Realizing that my odd quirks were actually gifts changed the way I saw everything—including myself. And while I certainly don’t believe that my skills are extra powerful (nor do I feel that I am an expert on the topic), I jumped at the chance to develop this feature for Smart Parenting—because I realize that a little understanding and guidance can spell the difference between a child who feels lost in the darkness, and a child who is made stronger by a special inner light.

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    We are all psychic
    According to renowned parapsychologist and author Jaime T. Licauco, the term “psychic” is often misused and misunderstood in this country. “We are all psychic,” he explains. “The root word of the term is the Greek word psyche, which means soul. With this, each individual is psychic—some of us just have more developed skills than others.” Licauco also clears up the misunderstanding that all psychics can see the future. “When we hear the word psychic, many automatically think of the manghuhula or fortune teller, but there are many other types of psychic gifts.”

    Another important matter to point out is that not all psychics can see ghosts. Some can heal, some can read minds, and others can feel what other people are feeling—bringing to light the concept that being psychic is not always the frightening and scary thing many think it is. There is a whole spectrum of psychic experiences that is as vast and varied as there are unique individuals. Here, three mothers bravely share the stories of their children who have displayed psychic abilities. Perhaps their experiences can help enlighten those who are faced with an odd and strange child who may simply be misunderstood.

     

    Mia’s story
    When my son was about a year old, he seemed to recognize my mom even if he had never physically met her (she passed away a month before he was born). One time, we were at my dad’s house, and out of curiosity, I asked him where his lola was. My brothers and I were all pleasantly shocked when Santino stopped what he was doing, looked around, broke into a big smile, and pointed to a photo of my mom by the stairs. What was even more surprising was that he went near the photo of my mom, and hugged it and kissed it.

    Strangely enough, when I asked my second child, a daughter, that very same question, she reacted the same way. This time, she went into my dad’s room, found my mom’s picture, picked it up, and handed it to me. Also, when my son was about three years old, there was this strange occurrence that I could not forget. He had a high-grade fever and we were both lying in bed. Out of the blue, he told me, “Mama, Lola looks just like you.” Then he cupped my face with both his hands and said, “See, she has your face.” He told me Lola was looking at him from the ceiling.

    I would have normally freaked out at the thought of my son seeing the dead, but I’ll always remember that day fondly. In fact, I think I almost broke into tears at that moment—it was so comforting to know that my mom watches over my kids. I see moments like these as subtle reminders from Mom that she hasn’t left our side.

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    Left vs. right brain
    Licauco explains that children naturally have strong psychic abilities. This is because we are born with a dominant right brain, which is the more intuitive and creative side of the brain. As we get older, the left brain (which is more analytical) is developed and given more importance, and the psychic side is suppressed. Licauco stresses that parents should realize that a child who can see things that are not there is not crazy. In fact, if your child has “imaginary” friends, he is really not imagining them. He expounds, “In general, a child between the ages of two to seven will not imagine things other do not see.”

    But elders can force a child to be more rational, thus weakening his natural abilities.

    What can you do if you notice that your child can see or sense things that are not there? Kathleena de Jesus-dela Rosa, a psychologist from the Ateneo de Manila University’s Psychology Department offers this advice: “The best way to deal with this situation is to have open communication with your child.

    Ask him about what he sees and be genuinely interested. Don’t pass judgment or make him feel that you don’t believe him. Just listen and repeat to him what he is relaying. For example, if he says he could see a lady in a blue dress standing next to the door, just say, ‘Oh, you see a blue lady near the door? Do you know her name?’ Make sure you don’t let out any other negative emotion such as fear or the like, as your child will feel it and might clam up. This way, he will know that you understand him. And no matter what it is, he will never be afraid to tell you what is going on. For as long as the communication lines are open, you will be able to guide and support your child, which is all that matters in the end.”

     

    Paula’s story
    Between the ages of two and three, my son was always coming down with a fever, and never lower than 39ºC on a conventional thermometer. There was always a logical, scientific reason for his sickness dehydration, rotavirus—so I never suspected that Joaquin might have a third eye. I just thought he was born sickly. We once went on a trip to Boracay and the room we stayed in was right next to a big old balete tree. On our first night, my son ran a fever of 40ºC and in moments of what I thought was delirium, he would tell his yaya, “Look! The dog!” We had to cut our trip short and when we returned to Manila, Joaquin was confined.

    One day, our maid found puke in one of my drawers while she was cleaning. She then suggested we see an albularyo. Secretly, I thought it was complete BS; that the puke was my husband’s—most likely the result of a night-out spent drinking. After the vomit appeared, the maids would ask me to bring Joaquin to an albularyo whenever he had fever. Once or twice I agreed and called an aunt who knew one. But whenever the appointment was confirmed and announced to the helpers, Joaquin’s fever would suddenly drop—and he’d be well again. My husband and I were out of the country when the second incidence involving vomit occurred. The maid had cleaned up vomit from the cabinet where we kept our luggage. As this was located overhead, I realized then that the puke couldn’t have been from my husband. This led me to accept that maybe there were spirits in our house.

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    The next time Joaquin had a 40ºC fever, I called on a family friend, Fr. Mario Bije, S.V.D., to cleanse our place. But he was out of town. So instead, I asked a cousin to set us up with an albularyo. As was the pattern, when I said out loud that our appointment was confirmed, Joaquin’s fever dropped. But since my cousin had gone through a lot of trouble to set up the meeting, I brought him to Maragondon, Cavite to see the albularyo.

    The albularyo lived and received people in a street-side shack. As soon as he saw my son, he cried out, “Kinikilabutan ako! Wala siyang ulo!” He told me that we lived beside a river and that there were a lot of dead bodies in this area during the war. I thought he was a complete fraud until I realized we did live a stone’s throw away from the Pasig River. He also said that my home was inhabited by spirits and proceeded to cleanse it by chanting and praying. He also said that someone from my office had hexed me but I was too strong so the spell had fallen on Joaquin. He then invoked the name of the Lord and Mary in banishing the spirits from the house and to protect Joaquin.

    I waited until Fr. Mario was back from the province and asked him to perform a cleansing for us. When he came to the house, he did find a lot of elementals and spirits that owed their presence to a pair of portals that faced each other and functioned like a corridor from one portal to another. He also said there were two spirits that had attached themselves to Joaquin. He performed a cleansing of the spirits and portals in the house. He also “closed” Joaquin’s third eye.

    We decided it was in his best interest because he wasn’t even three years old—and since he couldn’t talk very well yet, there was no way to express what he was seeing or feeling. But Fr. Mario warned us that it’s not really possible to close a third eye that is strong. When we moved to our new home, Joaquin started seeing spirits. By then, he was already five years old. When I asked him how he was sure they were ghosts, he said he saw them walk through me! Fr. Mario came two more times to cleanse the house. Both times, I asked him to “close” Joaquin’s third eye. The last time he was there, as he was praying, he remarked that it was as if Joaquin had been “offered,” which is why the spirits were attracted to him. He asked me what happened when we brought him to the albularyo. I told him that he didn’t touch Joaquin at all; that all he did was pray to the Lord and Mama Mary. Fr. Mario then asked me to renounce what I had done. After, he prayed again to close Joaquin’s third eye. It hasn’t “opened” since.

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    The third eye
    There have been many cases where parents opt to have the third eye of a child closed because of the harmful effects. But as Licauco explains, it is not possible to close a third eye.

    “What happens is that there is a shift in focus from the left brain to the right brain. The closing of the third eye is more of a ritual, and since one believes it, it works.” But whether or not the third eye is truly closed, the fact that it may help your child is the real focus.

    “As a general rule, if you see that anything is hurting your child on whatever level, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, it is your role as a parent to find out what is causing it and to make sure your child is safe,” says de Jesus dela Rosa. “It is best that you explain to him in the simplest and best way possible what is happening so it doesn’t add to his stress. Children may form the wrong conclusions and hurt themselves in the process if left to wonder on their own about what is going on.”

    Rica’s story
    My daughter was one-and-a-half-years old when she first manifested her gift. She cried every night for a week because she kept “seeing” something at the corner of her room. She could not talk yet at that time so she just cried and relentlessly pointed at what she was “seeing.” I felt anxious because I did not know how to help her. My main concern was making her feel safe with me since I could see that she was scared each time she’d cry.

    We decided to move out of the house and stayed with my sister-in-law. I also contacted a priest who immediately asked to meet me to get more information about my child’s experiences. That’s when I knew this was not an ordinary situation.

    I was told that my daughter was an open channel for the spirit world. The priest told me she had the third eye and more specifically, that she was an empath because she was capable of reading thoughts and feelings of other people. I began to research about empath children and noted the similarities between their experiences and that of my daughter’s. We began with numerous bedtime rituals because she was most vulnerable when she was asleep. Every night, we would pray to her guardian angel and St. Michael. She believes she has two angels to protect her. Then I would bless her and her room with holy water. After, she would surround her bed with her stuffed toys because she felt they would keep her safe. She also now wears the medallion of St. Benedict.

    Throughout the years, there have been several manifestations of her gift. She has read people’s thoughts countless times. She once casually and accurately predicted the weather. She has seen angels above people’s heads at church. She has also seen a relative during the time he recently passed away.

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    Unfortunately, she has experienced entities that extremely frightened her. These are the kinds of situations we avoid, exposure to these kinds of experiences because the emotions are very real for her.

    I know some parents decide to have their child’s third eye closed, but I wouldn’t call what we did a decision to keep her third eye open. It was more of showing her that I was there to support her by making her feel safe. Any mother would want to keep her child safe. The decision to accept this gift and harness it was hers alone. She is now 10 years old and has grown to be very comfortable with what she experiences. Once in a while, she still goes through frightening episodes, but she knows she can call on me and I will guide her.

    I feel that parents should be open to accepting the gift their child has been given because it is there for a reason. Fear only comes from lack of information. Once you arm yourself with knowledge, you gain confidence because you know how to protect and help your child.

    Developing the gift
    When parents opt to stay open to their child’s psychic gifts, it is best if they are properly guided. Licauco says, “Don’t call too much attention to your child’s abilities. At the same time, do not overprotect him or her. A child’s natural gift can be developed through encouragement.” He cautions, “You should never take advantage of your child’s gift. Don’t use it to predict the lucky numbers of the lotto.”  

    “One way of looking at this is by treating it as a kind of giftedness,” adds de Jesus dela Rosa. “This way, you can see it as though you are raising, say, an intellectually gifted child.

    As such, it is best to make sure you treat your child like you would any other kid. Let him enjoy his childhood, play, run around, etc. More importantly, you have to come to terms with your child’s gift. Gauge and assess how you feel about it. If you’re scared or find it strange or weird, then that is what your child would feel. Don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed but instead, be more accepting of your child’s situation.”

     

    Nurture the gift.
    Fr. Kit Bautista,S.J., Headmaster of the Ateneo Grade School, gives these tips as an educator, counselor, scholar, and priest.

    1. Do not label nor judge.
     Highly sensitive children (HSC) are naturally introspective and introvertive. They assess external reality with their highly developed intuition and “gut” feel. They may appear shy, afraid, and isolated; or “weird,” or defocused at times. Negative labelling such as calling them “strange,” “weird,” “shy,” “fearful,” “abnormal,” will only ruin their self-concept, self confidence, and self-esteem, especially if these destructive labels come from the parents, more so if from the mom-figure. It will be beneficial to accept that each child is unique and original, and has great potential to actualize his hidden gifts and talents.

    2. Affirm him.
    HSCs are highly intelligent individuals in that they see the whole more than the parts. They absorb and comprehend much more of reality. They are visionaries and future-oriented. These gifts can be harnessed with proper guidance and care, so affirm their own personhoods and gifts.

    3. Balance his natural introversion with extroversion.
     Provide him with socialization skills by exposing him to people of all sorts. This will improve his communication skills as well as his self-confidence to speak and listen to others. Part of the high intelligence capacity of the HSC is his psychomotor capabilities. To develop these, introduce him to physical sports and games.

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    4. Ask him to narrate what he sees or hears.
    HSCs have highly creative and imaginative minds. Encourage him to narrate to you what he sees or hears in the spiritual realm. Be open to what he has to say and try to truly understand his words. Ask questions. Make sure you make him feel you are interested in him and in his stories. By doing this, you will know your HSC more in-depth, and so will better appreciate him and his special gifts.

    5. Balance his high intuition with sensate acquisition of knowledge ('sense' knowledge).
    As HSCs have developed intuitions or right-brained forms of thinking, it is optimal that his left-brain capacities also be developed. Expose him to mathematical problems and puzzles that require patient and prolonged analytical and logical modes of thinking. Familiarize him with process-thinking to arrive at valid and legitimate conclusions. Train him to observe outside reality as it appears to him physically based on factual data—to know by physically seeing, touching, hearing, tasting, and smelling. Introduce him to activities where he can work directly with his hands (e.g. pottery, origami art, etc.). As right-brained people, they are naturally inclined to the arts.


    6. Teach him to articulate his feelings and thoughts.
    Many HSCs are feelers but sometimes do not know the causes of their feelings. If this is left unchecked, he can fall into a numbing depression. He can also entertain wise and deep thoughts, but sometimes fail to communicate them to others, thus missing opportunities to contribute. He suddenly feels sad or happy without consciously knowing why he feels that way. Teach him to process his affective and cognitive processes and identify and discriminate different affects so he can master his own heart and mind. Mirroring his thoughts and feelings is one good basic step to accomplish this. Self-mastery fosters self confidence and self-esteem.



    Photo by mstivi via flickr creative commons

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