Separating truth from fantasy

At this time, when fantasy and imagination are blossoming, many and varied are the pretend friends and imaginary adventures. One day, they are showing us ‘cat land’ or ‘snail city’ and we are enthusing with them. But next day, when they tell us the snails took the chocolate cake from the fridge, we have to draw the line.

The first time your child lies to you can come as a shock. It’s a normal stage; so don’t panic, but help them to make a distinction in their own mind about what is real and what is made up.

Gifts of power

When choosing gifts for children, we want them to be re-usable, allow imaginative play, be durable, attractive, interesting, educational and appropriate to their age and skills. Phew! But there is something magical and symbolic in gifts, too.

Occasionally, someone will choose a very special gift which exactly fits your child’s needs. It’s as if the gift reflects the child’s spirit, bringing with it confirmation of the next step the child will take in their development as a person. I call these ‘gifts of power’. They may be simple or complex, expensive or cheap, home-made or bought, but they are uniquely appropriate to this child at this time. Here are some examples:

– A small piece of very soft and cuddly blanket or a woolly sheepskin for a two-year-old who is having trouble sleeping.

– A soft, hand-made rag doll to comfort a child who is moving from a cot to a bed.

– Home-made Inspector Gadget outfit (an old coat, equipped with all kinds of hardware store/camping gadgets in the pockets). This was for a child who was introverted, but full of hidden qualities which needed encouraging.

– A busy box for a child who was getting into lots of trouble for being demanding. This helped by redirecting her intelligence and energy into creating things, instead of creating havoc. Any attractive box can be used and filled with craft items, such as glue, pompoms, ribbons, bells, fluff, material offcuts, feathers, clasps, cardboard, scissors, doilies, paper cups, ice-pole sticks, straws, rubber bands and cardboard tubes.

– The right book. Everyone remembers a special book from their childhood which they could really relate to. Choosing the right book is a delightful experiment. books often have a message which is subtly put — for instance, the old Rupert books are all about friendship, and the challenges and joys of playmates. There are good guides to what books are loved by what ages of children but, above all, base your choice on knowing the particular child and what they will find magical and beautiful.