FEATURE: Parents need help with ‘New Children’

FEATURE: Parents need help with ‘New Children’
April 11, 2011
By Weng Lu-huang
Taipai Times

Most parents would respond to a child telling them they had seen a ghost by either chastising them for telling lies or explain that there is no such thing as ghosts. Others try to calm them down and figure out how what to do after listening carefully to what they have to say.

Having served as a counselor to many children suffering from such “visitations,” senior psychologist Irene Chang (張艾如) says that in the modern world, there are many cases of children suffering from conditions similar to that of the child in the hit movie The Sixth Sense.

“They are in fear of being seen as a cultural ‘others,’ but some of them are what certain academics call ‘new children,’ who just need to be listened to and understood,” Chang said, adding that the last thing the children need is to be looked at as if they were possessed.

Chang, a lecturer at the Medical Center at the National Defense Medical Center and Manager of the Tri-Service general Hospital’s Psychology Clinic, also doubles as the superintendent of the Beautiful Mind psychology clinic.

Other countries have carried out research into the subject, as demonstrated by the plethora of books, of which The Children of Now and Conversations with the Children of Now are just two examples, Chang said.

Children exhibiting such symptoms are often oppressed by society, especially in a conservative environment like Taiwan, Chang said.

“The way they perceive the world is different from us,” Chang, adding it was something akin to the difference between how -wizards in the Harry -Potter -novels and movies view the world, and how the “Muggles,” or ordinary people, failing to understand that worldview, regard them as “freaks.”

Chang said it can be heartbreaking to see children give up fighting to be understood and instead turn into the problem children others perceive them to be, as a way of escaping the bounds of social norms and living an easier life.

Chang urged teachers’ and parents’ of such “New Children” to remain calm and try not to panic if they discover that their children appear to have paranormal capabilities.

Listening and trying to understand is the best way to help those children realize their potential and to ensure they grow up to make a contribution to society, Chang said.

One case Chang has dealt with involved a parent surnamed Chen (陳) whose son had a vision of a little girl falling off her parent’s scooter when he was standing by the school gate.

Although the boy wanted to tell the girl and her father to be careful, he said nothing for fear of being thought insane, Chang said. However, things in reality played out exactly as the boy had seen in his vision and he had no one to turn to except his mother.

Another case involved a pair of twins in the third grade, though only the elder sister had paranormal sensitivities, with frequent sightings of A piao or ghosts, and was afraid to tell the teachers or other students.

To teachers and her classmates, the young girl always seemed to be scared of something, was unable to concentrate in class, and was afraid of going to the restroom by herself. The girl’s mother had tried traditional treatments, but the effects were limited, while a Buddhist master suggested religious chants and a vegetarian diet.

Another individual with “paranormal powers” surnamed Liu (劉) said he had extrasensory perception (ESP) since his youth, often seeing “that which should not be seen.”

Liu said it had taken him many years to get along with “them” [ghosts] and now they would sometimes help with work.

His children also possess ESP, Liu said, and he had learned to use his own experience to calm them using the Buddhist belief in causality.

“The Bodhisattva will protect you as long as you do not do evil deeds … A Piao won’t come near you,” Liu tells them.
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