Magic Years, When Children Believe in Magic

Why it is Important Parents Allow Children to Enjoy their Magical Years
By: Anselm Anyoha, MD
NEWTOWN, Conn. - Dec. 24, 2019 - PRLog -- Two children, one named Chima ("God knows"), almost 4 years old, and the other Chibiko ("God, I plead"), five years exactly, watched Anthony, an adult of 28 years of age. They were in an open space inside a small house where Chima and Chibiko lived with their eleven siblings and middle-aged parents, Mr. and Mrs. Idoh. Since Anthony had been with the family before Chima and Chibiko were born, Mr. Idoh did not mind if he played with the children in the evening.

Anthony held a penny in his right hand and the children wondered what he was going to do with it. As both children stared, Anthony swallowed the penny; and forty seconds later it emerged from his left pinky finger.  "Magic," screamed Chima, and he jumped around the cement floor, imitating his Grandmother's three-month-old lamb. To slow down his excitement, Chima ran off to touch the two side walls that enclosed the space in the middle of the house. Then he ran back to Anthony and pleaded, "Do the magic again."

"I am not sure if I still have any magic power left, but I will try," Anthony said. Then he drew air deep into his nose, expanding his chest to the size of a palm oil drum. Next, he closed both eyes, and using his right hand he conjured up some magical power from the dark sky above. Chima and Chibiko paid attention.

"Do you see this penny?" asked Anthony as he showed the coin in his left hand.

"Yes," Chima and Chibiko said. "What is going to happen to it?" Chima asked.

Without answering Anthony showed them the penny again, and then closed his hand around it; when he opened his hand ten seconds later, the penny was gone.

"Gone!" exclaimed Chima. Again, he began to jump, and screamed the word "magic" many times. Chibiko also felt that what Anthony did was magic but, unlike his younger brother, he was at the age when he was beginning to lose his belief in magic powers.

For those who possess them, magic years are exciting years for children. At the strike of a magical moment, children's eyes will lighten up and their thinking will go to places where no teacher could take them, unless they are at the Hogwarts School of Magic.

Sometimes, in my medical office, I stage a magic act by flipping a small plastic object (ear speculum) only to catch it in mid air. To some four- and five-year-olds, my performance (though unsophisticated) is magical. "Wow, how did you do that?" I hear children say to me, as their eyes widen and their cheeks broaden into smiles.

A child who believes in magic is in a space between what is physically possible and what is paranormal, a process which encourages children to examine their understanding of patterns and occurrences in the environment. By wondering how this act could be possible, children exercise their mental capacity. It is a space filled with imagination and ideas, both of which are rich food for the cognitive process.  Unfortunately there are children who, perhaps due to parental, religious or cultural constraints, do not believe in magic (Subbotsky, 2011). Numerous times I hear children who want to believe in Santa Claus, but their parents object to such fantasy. This kind of parental interference, I think, can stifle imagination in a child. A child who is without imagination is a lonely, desolate child.

Parents should allow children to enjoy their magical years, for soon the child will discover for himself that the earth does not end where the cloud seems to descend.  Let children discover for themselves whether there is magic or not. Each child will find their own ideal period to stay in the magic years, just as each child will decide how long they will crawl before walking. Once children begin to disbelieve in magic they have learned to set limits based on adult rationalization tendencies, which could compromise achievement of age-appropriate goals.  Children, I think, should have a lasting capacity to feel that they can do anything and that everything is possible, including growing wings and flying.

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Reference

Subbotsky, Eugene. (2011). The Ghost in the Machine: Why and How the Belief in Magic Survives in the Rational Mind. Human Development. 54. 126-143. 10.1159/000329129.

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