When Children Are Lonely, They Retreat Into a Survival Fantasy World
When Iben Sandahl from Psychology Today had a young girl walk into her practice one day. Her parents were extremely worried that she was hiding something from them and understandably terrified at what exactly that could be. She had already started informing them of odd and weird stories about things that were happening, and the actions she had taken, even though they knew she hadn’t done them. They had started to blame themselves as failing as parents, and their sweet little girl was turning into something they control later down the line.
When questioned about what they knew about their child, what she liked to do, or cared about. The parents displayed a lot of emotion, only recalling some funny stories of late, and nothing of real significance. It was then that everyone realized the parents really hadn’t paid much attention to their child or engaged with her in any meaningful way. Due to their schedules with work, it became apparent, that although they loved their child, they didn’t pay her much regard or interact with her much.
Ms. Sandahl then spoke with the nine-year-old, to see if there was something else, in addition to the sudden realization in all parties.
The Lonely Soul
The psychologist found that their child was intelligent and brave, but lonely little child. She was so lonely, that she had created this entire fantasy world, full of her favorite characters, who ultimately became her family in lieu of the real one that she did have. She crafted this world, where her family home was somewhere she just visited on occasion, and this new family in the fantasy world lavished attention on here when she had none. She felt real in this imaginary world.
Being too young to articulate or understand why her family was not attentive to her, she expressed her loneliness by creating this brave new fantasy world for herself and made it her safe space to feel loved.
Being Present Is More Than Just a Body In The Room
The human mind is creative and resilient, able to protect itself in every imaginative way, and children, with limitless imagination, will find a way to fill that void if parents are not attentive enough.
Children need your full attention every day in order to thrive into full confident adults, and with the capability of being able to cope with harsh realities, they may face later in life.
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