Fantasy vs. Reality - When Kids Can't Differentiate
Fantasy vs. Reality - When Kids Can't Differentiate
More often than not, the stories we recite to our children contain some kind of supernatural activities, magical events or superheroes. Their tender hearts definitely want to believe that these things exist for real. Not just stories, but the beloved beliefs of Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies depicted in movies, TV Shows, and of course, stories, become a crucial part of their childhood.
I saw a video clipping of a talk show, and they were discussing the side effects of white lies like the Tooth Fairy. A smart father was of the opinion that we should tell them the reality, maybe subtly, but it should guide them in the correct direction. So he and his wife told their daughter that we have heard that tooth fairy take little kids’ teeth if they are kept under the pillow. When the girl’s tooth was kept and got indeed missing from beneath the pillow, she was excited and said, “See, the tooth fairy took my tooth!!” But her parents said, “How do you know it for sure that it was the tooth fairy?”, thus planting a seed of doubt in her mind.
She went to school, discussed with her classmates, and they all decided to be spies in their own rights. There were booby traps for both parents and tooth fairy, but when that didn’t work, they were smart enough to figure out an interesting idea. They decided that when one of their teeth will fall off in the school, they would keep it under the pillow without letting the parents know. The tooth did not go anywhere that night, and the kids were delighted at their detective career’s success! The father at the talk show said, that kids are imaginative enough, they don’t need some hoax perpetuated by adults to groom their perceptions.
This could have been dismissed as a father’s personal opinion, his own perception that may be or may not be applicable for the kids. However, the incidents of recent times actually confirm his words. Not only do the kids not need these hoaxes, but this apparent intermixing of the imaginary world of fantasy with the harsh real world actually is capable of doing a number on their minds.
Some kids are jumping from high towers with a hope of Spider-Man or Super Man coming for them. Many others are indulging with dangerous games like Blue Whale, probably to prove to maybe their friends, that they are as brave as the superheroes they follow and are not afraid to take risks. Yet others are pretending to be superheroes themselves and harming themselves in the enactments with dangerous stunts.
They are even planning their future based on these beliefs. A five-year-old wants to become a superhero when he grows up. When asked, where will he get the powers from, he said, he will buy them from a shop.
Stories which are making our boys delusional and our girls ready to portray damsels in distress should ideally be thrown out in the bin. Since that is not possible, as you are not the only storyteller in their lives, let’s come in the attacking mode instead of defensive. When directly pointing out that actors and characters in the Television or their favorite Web Series or Movies are just doing a pretend play doesn't seem to work, then our attack should become indirect and subtle. Never mention their superheroes directly. Take a more rounded path, and leave them with doubts. They would come around eventually.
One way is to come up with stories of our own. These stories would typically feature a character who strongly believes in a specific magical being or a story with a magical event. Engage your kids, and make sure their minds are interwoven, that they are correlating with the character nicely. This character should then experience a jolt of reality. Stories transport our minds to those of the protagonists. Your children will most hopefully feel this jolt too. And in the process, they will gradually learn to distinguish between the beautiful but nonexistent world of fantasy, and sometimes harsh, yet the wonderful world which is our reality.
Stories are a powerful medium of impacting a mind. Not just kids, even adults get mesmerized by a speaker who engages them with clever stories, and thus most of the speakers make sure to include stories in their transcripts to reach and hold the depth of the minds of their audience.
With the tender mind of kids, this impact is a lot more profound, and since they are still in a learning phase when it comes to differentiating between real, virtual and fantastical worlds, the stories and storytellers need to be more responsible.
And who is the better person to take this responsibility than those who have brought these tiny humans into this world? So if you are not a storyteller yet, plan on becoming one soon. You can’t 'not' tell stories. You have to keep growing, remember? #Grow4yourKids
We have crafted one such story for you. It’s about a girl Shriya who is a real believer of an interesting story. The story of a grocery guy Raghav who helps a thirsty old man and the grateful man makes Raghav’s Pitcher magical. Not only does the pitcher refills itself but it also has magical healing powers. Little Shriya thinks that such magical old people actually exist, and will bless her also if she shares water from her small water bottle. One day, an old woman asks her for water! What happens when little Shriya gives water from her bottle? Does her bottle become magical just like Raghav's Pitcher? Here is a link to the Story: Shriya & her Water Bottle