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Children Are Special

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"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little ones."

Often in fiction, the "special nature" of children will be utilised to explain why only they are capable of certain things. Only children can see fairies, demons, angels or the monster under the bed. Only children are capable of accessing the dream world. Only children are capable of certain talents or abilities. Only children are immune to the killer virus that's rampaging across the planet, etc. (Except for the Littlest Cancer Patient, of course.) This is often a companion to Growing Up Sucks.

Children Are Special, no doubt due to their innocence and naïveté, their purity of heart, or something along those lines. Also, life tends to get really depressing when they're not around anymore. This is a trope which has been utilised all over the place for centuries. It possibly has its origins in old folklore and legends. Occasionally, children's specialty is what leads to them being exploited in the first place.

A Super-Trope to Children Are Innocent, Only Fatal to Adults, Invisible to Adults.

In some cases, it can overlap with Glamour Failure.

Compare Otherworldly Visits Youngest First.

Contrast Enfante Terrible. See also From the Mouths of Babes.


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  • Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna seems to combine this with Children Are Innocent as well. The reason why it's mostly children who get partner Digimon is because of the limitless choices for the future ahead of them. Once the child grows up and those choices lessen, the power that lets their Digivice function begins to fade; and ultimately, they must part with their Digimon.
  • Near the end of Medaka Box, most of the "Abnormals" have lost their special powers. Zenkichi thinks they were a sort of adolescent magic that vanished when they grew up.
  • Serial Experiments Lain has a bizarre subversion of this, with a scientist harnessing the ESP of thousands upon thousands of children in an attempt to digitise reality. The children didn't get the better part of that deal.
  • Transformers: Cybertron: When the parents offered to accompany their children into space to do battle with the Deceptions, it was explained that only the open minds and hearts of children could really comprehend what was going on out there, and that however much the parents wanted to believe in their own ability to understand the situation, only the children really could.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode "Candy House Fantasy", Paddi's candy house represents the dreams of every child, and as such, evil adults like Wolffy can't destroy it.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Polar Express, only children (and only children who Believe, mind you) can hear Santa's bells. When they stop believing or turn into an "adult," they stop hearing the bells, except for those few lucky enough to actually see the North Pole. The protagonist still hears the bells when he's an adult because he actually has the experience to remember while other children just have the memory of the belief. More likely it's an exception to the rule, while still suiting this trope.
  • In Rise of the Guardians: While everyone who believes in the Guardians can see them, including adults, and if someone doesn't believe in them they can't see them, even if they're a kid, this trope still applies in that the Guardians explicitly only protect children, and every light on the globe represents a child who believes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Don't Look Under the Bed, only small children can see Larry (an imaginary friend) and understand the "temtrafuge" technology that rapidly ages boogeymen, thus making them harmless.

  • Child sacrifices are common in many mythologies (and fictional interpretations of), and the purity of the child may be a deciding factor. Creatures such the Unicorn were rumoured to be approachable only by young (usually female) virgins who were, naturally, often children. And in ceremonial magick, a child or virgin adult was employed for divination work, especially scrying.
  • The basic idea of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny cites that they only deliver to children. Depending on the family, this may stop at thirteen, eighteen, or any age between the two.

  • In Acorna's Quest by Anne McCaffery and Margaret Ball, children can see the true form of the Linyaari, even when they are projecting something completely different. It's stated that children of any species are psychically undeveloped.
  • Many interesting essays about why Children Are Special, Children Are Innocent and Growing Up Sucks were written in Victorian times. Here's one, 'The Age of Gold', by folklorist Dinah Craik who compiled books of fairytales and wrote novels for kids and adults. Rev. Francis Jacox has an essay specifically about kids Worldbuilding, often later growing up to be authors, "Glimpses of Daydream-Land", in a Dickensian periodical.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, Jesus tells the disciples not to turn away a group of parents hoping to have their children blessed by him because one cannot enter to the kingdom of heaven without being like a child. (That is, eager to learn and open to trying something new and accepting new ideas that might sound crazy to some.)
  • The little girls in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling 1970 believe that "babies are born knowing all sorts of magic stuff, until they start thinking separately and forget everything." They rely on a baby sister as a kind of oracle/talisman. Snyder's subsequent Green-Sky fantasy trilogy builds on this idea, then inverts it: infants have ESP but the fact that powers are lost with maturity isn't a cute bit of Wordsworthian nostalgia but a symptom of what's literally wrecking the culture.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Susan becomes too "sophisticated" and "grown-up" for such childish things as Narnia. Peter, who is older, doesn't lose his "childish" belief. Because of that, Susan never returns to Narnia, even in the end; Peter does, even though he's an adult.
  • Cliff McNish:
    • The Doomspell Trilogy: by the end of the second book, the "magic" inside of every child the world over had been unleashed giving most of them the ability to do just about anything, from fly, to change their hair colour, to kill people. Each child possessed a varying level of ability, but they all had it, more or less. This magic faded away as the child aged into adulthood.
    • Silver Sequence: children all over the world develop powers and change physically (often in some borderline Body Horror ways) in response to a fast-approaching alien threat.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, LeFel abducted a four-year-old to act as his dreamer.
  • Ender's Game is probably somewhat of a subversion. If a child's trained from a young age in Battle School, then they can become as good a commander as an adult, and can learn how to understand the Buggers— but someone who really understood the buggers couldn't slaughter them, and so the commander needed to be tricked into thinking that the battles against the buggers were a simulation, not real combat with real casualties. Children were selected because they'd be naive enough not to suspect the battles were real. Which means that yes, children have the trait needed, but it's not necessarily a positive one.
  • Inheritance Cycle contains a brief mention that Elven children are incredibly powerful and their ability to wield magic slowly wanes as they grow into adulthood, finally settling down into a more normal (for Elves) level of power.
  • A somewhat twisted version in the Knight and Rogue Series. In general humans are the only species without magic, only having weak abilities like vague senses, but there are some children who can use magic. Children only, becuase only simple children can use magic, and between their powers and their mental impairments and whatever other health problems come with they never last to adulthood.
  • Mary Poppins: Specifically, babies are special. The baby twins George and Barbara can speak to each other, animals, and even the weather, but they outgrow this while they're still babies; just after their first birthday. Apparently, all babies are like this, and Mary is the only person in the world who never outgrew her ability to speak to babies, animals, and the weather.
  • The short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) starts with a post-scientist in the far future testing a Time Machine by sending two boxes of toys into the past; he loses track of them, and considers the test a failure. The first box is discovered in the 20th Century, by Scott and Emma Paradine, who by playing with them, quickly begin thinking in a very different way. Their parents and other adults cannot comprehend the odd toys. It's explained that the children are not actually increasing their intelligence, but the toys are conditioning them to "non-Euclidean" reasoning; only a child's mind and way of thinking are flexible enough to accommodate or comprehend it because adults have lived their entire lives "conditioned to Euclid". Elsewhere (and, else-when) the second box is found in the 19th Century by young Alice Liddell. She can only barely understand the written material, being slightly older than Scott and Emma, but when describing it to her friend "Uncle Charles" (Lewis Carroll) he finds it interesting and says he'll include them in one of his works. In the main story, the two siblings not only figure out the scientist's original experiment, but why it failed, and construct a device to leave their space-time dimension. A copy of Through the Looking Glass is discovered by their parents, the odd title of the story (a line from Jabberwocky the missing piece used to complete the time-space equation. This is not to be confused with The Last Mimzy which is very loosely based on this original work.
  • Dealt with very practically in Clifford Simak's No World Of Their Own. Other-dimensional creatures are visible only to children, until someone invents corrective lenses for adults.
  • Peter Pan: While there are some adults in Neverland, only kids are allowed to visit there, and Peter Pan kicks out (and likely kills) any kids who "seem to be growing up". Additionally, while there are a few adults who believe in Peter, believing in him is said to be very rare among adults.
  • Stephen King's novels often make a point about how children are better suited to dealing with the supernatural - they can accept it easier than most adults, due to a grown-up's mind being set in the ways about the nature of the 'real world'. Additionally, the titular monster of IT claims that only children can use the power of belief and Chud to stop it. The grown-up protagonists prove it wrong, but this may be to do with the fact that they had defeated it once as children already.
  • Played in a dark way in The Witches, where children are the only humans that witches can smell, because they give out "stink-waves", which can't be smelt by humans but smell of dog droppings to witches, which is why they have a hatred for human children (think Fantastic Racism meets Child Hater).

    Live Action TV  
  • Quantum Leap: Children, animals, and the mentally handicapped are the only ones who can see Al. Explained as Alpha brain waves or something which alters as one grows up, unless one is an animal or mentally handicapped.
  • Horiffically subverted in Torchwood: Children of Earth. The alien invasion has come to collect ten percent of earth's children because prepubescent children create a chemical that their entire species is addicted to. They're basically getting high on the kids.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Monsters and Other Childish Things only children have monsters... with the exception of an incredibly creepy old man who didn't grow up. It's implied this is because monsters, being immortal, don't really change, and tend to be more childish than the kid in the first place, so the kid outgrows them.
  • The New World of Darkness sourcebook Innocents uses this trope quite a bit.
  • In Pokéthulhu only children are capable of dealing with the thullu without going completely insane or running away in terror.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap: Only children can see the Minish, and even then, that's not much use as they're incredibly tiny.
  • The Secret World plays this darkly in Issue 7: "A Dream to Kill". It's revealed that the Orochi Group scientist Doctor Schreber is a firm believer in this trope...hence the reason why his test subjects are almost exclusively children. Reasoning that children are more adaptable than adults—even citing an incident when his four-year-old granddaughter taught him how to to use a new function on his smartphone—he goes so far as to test the effects of demonic possession, mutant spores, ghosts, lycanthropy, and even the Filth on them. And terrifyingly enough, this approach garners results: it turns out that the only reason why werewolves transform into their traditional form is because, as adults, they're under the subconscious influence of millennia worth of folklore and genetic memory. The children that Schreber infected with lycanthropy weren't old enough to be influenced, so their transformations are much more varied—hence the boss battle with the child-creature earlier in the issue. He notes to experiment with vampirism next.
  • The Sims: Monsters are real, but they only spawn under the beds of kids. Additionally, kids can create imaginary friends and have them come to life.


    Western Animation 
  • In Arthur, children outgrow their specialness at a very young age: babies can speak to each other, animals, and even toys and imaginary beings, yet they lose this ability once they start to speak. A baby with a small vocabulary can mainly communicate just fine with animals et al but will occasionally have "fuzz-outs" and briefly not be able to understand them (like a phone with a bad connection). Once a toddler knows how to speak fluently, they lose the ability.
  • In Di-Gata Defenders, in the episode "the lost children", a man known as the Professor, is searching in a mine for evidence that Ra Dosians are descendants of interstellar travellers. But in the mines is a virus that is deadly to adults, but children are immune to the virus. So the Professor kidnaps children and forces them to work in the mines.
  • In the first episode of God, the Devil and Bob, God tells Bob that only he can see them. Bob's son Andy passes by and greets both of them, leading God to say "Oh, I forgot kids can see us too".
  • The characters on Kaeloo live in a world called Smileyland where There Are No Adults because only children are allowed to access the place because of their belief in magic and their innocence.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, children are the only humans who get fairy godparents.
  • On The Flintstones, Fred and Barney are usually the only ones who can see the Great Gazoo, but Pebbles and Bam-Bam can see him, because they believe in him.
  • In Winx Club during season 2, only children can see the Pixies on Earth due to magic being mostly absent from the planet.