When children's loneliness turns into a fantasy world

I know that all parents want the best for their kids. We all do. And I know that we raise our children in accordance to what we believe is the right way, but sometimes we also know that it isn't enough. We need some kind of inner guidance we can rely on. Something that will make us feel confident that we are doing things the right way.

Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with a young girl aged 9 in my private practice. She came to see me because her parents were sure she was hiding something from them. And they were convinced she had already started lying to them, because she was telling strange stories about something she had done – even though they knew she hadn´t. When I met with them at first they were very skeptical and basically scared they had done it all wrong as parents. That they were about to create a monster they wouldn't be able to control.

I asked them what they knew about their daughter, not all the things they were worried or concerned about, but instead I asked if they could tell me something about what she enjoyed the most. They both looked at me and became very emotional. They felt insecure and named a couple of things, which she had recently found amusing, but couldn't tell for sure. For a long time they hadn't asked her or paid any attention to what was going on in her life. Because of their hectic daily life they took everything for granted and that nothing had changed. They could see right away that they may have missed something out. That they hadn't given her the needed attention and that their working life had taken most of the energy and time away from her.

We agreed that I should have a talk with her, and see if there was anything of concern besides what they had immediately realized.

And there she was in front of me - a clever and brave girl. She told me that she felt alone and had created her own fairly-tale world of small creatures, which had become her family. It was only a family she visited when her own parents were too busy to notice her. The family she had created gave her a lot of attention, and they always created 'hygge-moments” with a lot of togetherness and fun. She felt important when entering into this imaginary world. Basically, I understood that she missed her parents' love and attention, which she couldn't express in words. She was comforting herself and found the most important values from her life and made a family where she felt secure and safe.

Children are clever and they know how to survive!

Sometimes we forget that parenting is something which requires our fully attention every day. It doesn't have to take longer than a short time. A fully present mommy or daddy attention will fill up the glass of loneliness and make your child better adjusted. Don´t think it is something you have to rush – make it a hygge-time for you as well. You will find out that it doesn´t only bring more peace into your children´s lives it also gives you a better feeling of being a greater parent.

Iben Sandahl is the author of The Danish Way Of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World. You can visit Iben’s Facebook page or follow her on Instagram for more inspiration about parenting.