For parents, there is nothing more frightening, in paranormal terms, than a small child speaking of past lives and old families. Second only to children seeing ghosts, this kind of occurrence is incredibly difficult to understand, to cope with, and to overcome. Children who speak of “my family before” or “when I was big before” are often bullied by peers or even adult authority figures who simply don’t understand what’s happening to them.
The main reason why people dismiss past life claims by children is because children have naturally active imaginations. It can be incredibly difficult to discern the difference between an overactive imagination and genuine past life memories. Added to the complication is that a small child will never come out and directly say, “I’m having a past life memory,” or, “I’m the reincarnation of…” because it isn’t within a child’s vocabulary to articulate the difference between “normal” and “paranormal”. Small children simply haven’t yet been taught that the paranormal is, to society, a separate reality or a nonexistent fantasy. To children, their perception of reality is absolute. A memory of a past life can be as natural as a memory of yesterday’s lunch. Children have not yet been tainted by society’s repetitiveness that the paranormal isn’t real or should be met with fear and suspicion. Unfortunately, such ideas typically begin with exasperated parents who have no other way to cope with spontaneous past life memories in their children. If the child doesn’t learn to suppress quick enough, it often leads to punishment, which then leads to the child associating their experiences with doing something wrong.
The key to better communication with a child going through past life memories is understanding their reality. The next step is figuring out whether the child’s experiences are probably real or simply a product of an overactive imagination. Finally, the child must be led to a place of understanding in which they can come to terms with it, release it, and go on living here in the present as a child rather than an adult trapped in a child’s body, as often happens.
Parents and other adult authority figures need to primarily understand that it’s not their place to tell the child they’re either wrong or being dishonest when they allude to things they experienced in other lives. It’s no different than making a child feel wrong for reporting their encounters with ghosts. Whether or not the adult believes what’s happened is irrelevant because it’s a distinct reality to the child. Berating or punishing the child will lead to confusion, anger, detachment, and it will delay the healing process. According to Dr. Jim Tucker, the medical director of the University of Virginia’s Child and Family Psychiatry Clinic, approximately 70% of child past life cases are those of people who died of unnatural causes, i.e. trauma. Therefore, a child going through past life memories is quite likely to recall traumatic details of their previous existences, which should be treated delicately by the authority figures in their present lives. Forcing punishment for speaking about it has the potential to cause psychiatric damage. Many adults who were not supported as children in their experiences grow up to spend significant time taking medications for anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately whether the person having spontaneous memories is a child or an adult, the majority of memories that come to surface first are traumatic. Violence or emotional distress usually manifest in the dream state, causing nightmares that will linger in the afflicted individual for days, weeks, or months afterward. These nightmares are typically so vivid that the child will act out in their sleep by talking out loud or even physically acting out the dream. One of the more prominent examples of a child suffering through repeated past life nightmares was that of James Leininger, a child who endured vivid flashbacks of his past life as James Houston in World War II. Houston was killed while flying over the ocean near Japan, shot down by Japanese soldiers. His nightmares began at such a young age that he could not have been exposed to World War II or Japanese fighter pilots, yet his nightmares were so vivid that he seemed to physically fight for his life in his sleep. At first, his father was rather disbelieving and disapproving of his mother’s theory that it was a past life. The disbelief led Leininger’s father to do research in an effort to prove the boy was imagining everything. Instead, his research led them to prove every fact the boy offered was true from James Houston’s life. Acknowledging what happened and supporting their child in healing his past trauma allowed that part of him to heal and he no longer suffers from the paralyzing flashbacks. You may read about the Leininger reincarnation case in Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot.
In addition to vivid and repeating nightmares and dreams, the child is likely to exhibit signs of phobias connected to the way they died. Recently, there was a television show on Bio called Ghost Inside My Child that profiled reincarnation cases of three children, including James Leininger. Another child, Cade, was born with the thoughts and experiences of a man who was killed by falling out of the World Trade Center on 9/11. He endured such vivid memories that he could hardly function in normal society, including a paralyzing phobia of skyscrapers and an obsession with airplanes. Cade struggled with even getting out of the car in downtown locations, especially when surrounded by skyscrapers. The trauma has been so recent and he’s still so young that he’s struggling to overcome the nightmares and phobias, although his parents reported progress as he grows. Cade is a bit unique because he reincarnated quickly after being killed, making the memories much more vivid to him, as well as an apparent inability to accept the fact that he’s a child again. Overcoming the phobias may be much more difficult that overcoming the past life itself.
There must be a delicate balance in conversing with the child. It’s better not to bring it up unless the child does first because the child will be more likely to pull from imagination to fill in the gaps if they’re not readily available. When the child initiates a comment, ask questions that will not lead the child into false memories, nor indicate that what they’re remembering is abnormal. A parent’s role should, at first, be neutral in case it is an overactive imagination. Such questions will also assist the parent in discerning the difference between reality and fantasy. Begin by asking if the child knows his or her name from before and if he or she remembers any names from their other family. If there are positive responses, write them down, and ask if they remembered where they lived. Write down the responses. Wait a few weeks and then have the same conversation again when the opportunity arises. If the child gives identical answers after a lapsed time, there is probably a measure of reality involved. If the answers change or the child acts oblivious, it was probably some measure of fantasy. When the child is repeatedly offering up the same details over months or even years, a parent must accept the possibility that what the child says is the truth. Ask for details conversationally without making the child feel pressured to respond.
Reincarnation researcher, Nellie Kampmann, offers this advice:
When children have past life memories, that offers a unique window of opportunity to explore the phenomenon. If you aren’t sure that you want to pursue this, keep in mind that as children grow older, their past life memories fade. You may not get another opportunity. Likewise, your child may eventually have an interest in past lives when he or she is older. It would be very frustrating for your child to know that he or she could remember a past life clearly as a child, but no longer has access to the memories when he or she might be interested in them as an adult. As a parent, you don’t necessarily have to do anything with the information you get from your child. At least if you collect the memories now, the information is there if you or your child do want to look more into it in the future.
The best advice I’ve heard is to just discuss it with your child as if the memories were a normal, every day matter. That way, they are less likely to either clam up or go in the opposite direction and start making things up to keep mommy and daddy happy. If you can record your talks, great! Otherwise, write down notes as soon as you can so that you don’t forget anything.
As you receive information, attempt to find evidence of such people or events much like researching genealogy. Ancestry.com is a good place to start if you’re lucky enough to have a name and location. Additionally, you may look into local historical societies, archival newspapers, or general Internet searches if the child describes details that might be confirmed with Google or other search engines. The reasons why researching the child’s claims are important are because you will be able to prove or disprove the claims as legitimate, and you will find a way to reassure the child that what they’ve experienced is true. It has been shown in numerous cases from both children and adults that being presented with tangible evidence of the past life has a soothing effect on the unsettled state of their subconscious minds. Quite often, seeing evidence of what happened with articles, pictures, and so forth, begins the healing process, although it is not entirely understood. Perhaps it has to do with giving the afflicted person confidence in themselves and their experiences. Perhaps it has to do with tangible proof for the subconscious that the life in question has truly ended and it’s time to release negative ties and devote full energy to living in the present.
If a parent has the ability to draw conclusions and make connections with the child’s claims, there may be a point when visiting the place where the last life ended is necessary. This has shown to be effective in the final stages of the healing process, as proven in the James Leininger case, and numerous other cases. Leininger’s parents took him to the place where Houston was shot down, where they conducted a memorial service and allowed the child to grieve for the traumatic ending he faced in World War II. Other cases have included a child visiting a former home in the UK, a child who was proven to be an extra in a 1930s Hollywood film and visited his old home, children who were previously killed in the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 visited the memorials for those tragedies, and many other cases. There appears to be a measure of psychological healing when the child is old enough to face the reality that the previous life has ended. When they’re allowed to properly grieve and process, they let go. The nightmares stop and they become more comfortable going through childhood again.
Small children with past lives may sometimes find that their previous family members are still alive. Sometimes connections are made but most of the time, parents protect the children from likely rejection. Deciding to come forward with a child’s past life isn’t easy and a lot of things must be considered. For example, the Leininger case involved a death that happened 60 or more years ago, allowing enough time to pass for James Houston’s family to have gone through the grieving process. Leininger had a relationship as a child with Houston’s sister, who felt the case was authentic. However, Cade’s case from 9/11 was so recent and horrifying that his mother chose to keep the identity of the past life a secret, for fear of interrupting the family’s grieving process. Cade himself appears to not be psychologically strong enough yet to meet the people he left behind just 11 years ago. Parents of children with obvious past life cases must primarily take into account the psychological and emotional ability of their child to undergo facing such tangible proof of their past lives. Secondly, they must take into account whether the previous life was too recent. Thirdly, the parent must realize the child cannot process putting to rest their previous lives until they are at a certain mental maturity. Most parents of children with past lives don’t allow them to revisit the old locations until roughly ages 8, 9, or 10 – or older if possible.
Above all, the process of going through a child’s past life memories should be with the ultimate goal of helping the child release those ties enough to function as happy and thriving individuals here in the present.