Extrasensory perception, sometimes referred to as the “sixth sense,” is the gift to obtain and perceive information about situations, events, and other people using abilities beyond the five physical senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. There are multiple types of extrasensory experiences.
- Telepathy is knowledge of another person’s activities, mental state, or thoughts.
- Clairvoyance is knowledge about places, objects, or events that are currently occurring.
- Precognition is the ability to predict random future events that manifest as knowledge, thoughts, waking images, or dreams, none of which could be inferred from regularly observable information.
- Psychokinesis is the ability to manipulate a physical condition or object, such as bending a spoon using only mental ability.
Research is ongoing regarding how and when such phenomena occur, and what type of person is most likely to experience such incidents. Incidents involving children’s apparent use of extra-sensory perception, commonly abbreviated as ESP, are frequent. Children may more open-minded about ESP experiences and therefore easily accept what our culture deems impossible.
Research can not conclusively prove that any age group has more psychic abilities than others. Numerous school studies testing clairvoyance and telepathy between students and teachers have yielded compelling results. Other studies prove significant telepathic connections between mothers and their infants.
It appears that developmental level or age is not a crucial factor in limiting or enhancing psychic experiences or abilities. Both adults and children who “believe” score higher than those who don’t, with nonbelievers showing results significantly below chance. One recent study indicates more than three-quarters of psychic incidents reported were of the precognitive variety—either intuitions or dreams of future events that turned out to be accurate. Telepathy and clairvoyance incidents were reported less frequently. Similar studies involving incidents reported by adults yield similar results.
One striking difference between children’s and adults’ responses is that among children, the person in their dream or intuition was usually an acquaintance or friend, not a member of the immediate family. Adults commonly reported that their subject was a member of their immediate family.
School-age children’s psychic experiences were generally centered around what adults would consider trivial matters, such as school and grades, fashion trends, relationships, and dating, while adults’ experiences focused on matters such as death, serious injury, or health issues. Interestingly, about 10 percent of the psychic experiences for both children and adults involved family pets.
Psychic experiences generally involve everyday, mundane events. For example, one father was silently reading an advertisement for dinner plates. His daughter, sitting in a nearby chair, suddenly exclaimed, “new plates, new plates!” In another case, one mother had an intense headache but was too involved in preparing dinner to pause and take a painkiller. Suddenly, her six-year-old daughter gave her an aspirin and a glass of water, without being asked to. Incidents like these are typical of the type many families frequently experience.
Psychic communication among family members can confuse and even upset children. To them, “knowing” things they “shouldn’t” know can be frightening. To parents, psychic abilities can be frightening, intimidating, and may even go against the family’s religion. It can strain relationships between parents who accept and believe the phenomena, and other family members who resent it and don’t believe in the experiences. Such conflict can confuse children regarding their abilities, which can cause inner turmoil and the desire to cease communication about them.
There are many ways for parents, teachers, and friends to help psychically gifted children positively perceive themselves and their abilities, to explore who they are, and help them discover what they could become.
- Don’t judge. Truly listen to your child. Let your child communicate freely about their experiences. Creating an accepting, caring, and understanding atmosphere void of ridicule will help your child be open about speaking of their experiences. Try not to communicate embarrassment, worry, fear, or disbelief to your child. This could lead to withdrawal or avoidance of communicating you about what they’re experiencing.
- Normalize their experience. Let your child know that other children and adults have similar gifts and abilities. Be factual regarding the child’s experience; don’t be intimidating or condescending regarding the event. Help your child understand that there are places to get their questions about their abilities and experiences answered, and you will help them if they want you to.
- Don’t expect the child to “perform.” Manifestations of children’s psychic experiences are often spontaneous, and children most likely are unable to control them. And pushing them to display psychic abilities “on demand” may diminish the very gifts the parents wish to observe. Don’t exploit their psychic abilities for your own personal gain. Your child has the abilities to use, to nurture, and to share. The gifts should not be used to exploit the child.
- Put psychic abilities in perspective. Self-consciousness and anxiety can decrease the spontaneity of psychic abilities and events. Help the child understand that they have psychic talents, but there are other talents to develop and other subjects to learn about.
- Keep communication open. If a child communicates to you about a psychic experience, show acceptance of what’s happened, no matter how you feel about it. If you receive the child’s statements negatively, the child may hesitate to approach you again about future experiences.
- Keep a journal of psychic experiences in the family. Encourage the child to write about events and dreams as soon as possible, to keep details fresh and to retain the most information possible. Patterns may be discerned over time, which may help distinguish regular dreams from those with precognitive components.
It’s difficult to know how you should respond if your child or teen shows psychic abilities. Psychically gifted children are perceptive and bright, and able to communicate “otherworldly” insights. They are not weird or odd. They have a special gift, but they play, look, and act like all other children. The one difference is that psychic abilities are often so evident that they can’t be hidden. Children can’t deny them, develop defenses, or block themselves from using them.
Children frequently misunderstand psychic gifts. Psychically gifted children may also be unusually sensitive and react more strongly to casual slights or emotional experiences. Because children can’t build strong defenses, others’ actions lead them to feel vulnerable, confused, or hurt. They may therefore withdraw into themselves to achieve balance, or feel overwhelmed or at odds with the conflicting energy of others.