Hijacked via persisent embedded trauma
A 3-5 year old child feels it is quite natural to have an imaginary friend, the child has no concept or experience by which it can determine that having the concept of another human being in their head can be a dangerous place to be later in life.
It is simply a natural component of the life of every child at this stage in their development. The idea of a god is completely acceptable to children of this age as it mirrors the reality of their own personality at this stage in their development as a human child.
Many children grow out of this by the age of 9 or 10. It may be that children are initially learning to communicate with themselves in the way we do as adults through the use of an imaginary friend. The friend becomes integrated into the whole of the person that the child is.
Even easier when you use god as a weapon
If a child is introduced to a god that is as equally pervasive and is spoken of by others as being a particular entity the child must know on some level that the god that is in their head is the very same one spoken of by adults. This mirrored aspect of their personality is hijacked by the concept of a god in their head; not only that, there is no mirrored personality for the child to communicate with in the way other children who have not been introduced to the god concept can and do do.
The development of the personality of the child in a natural unaffected environment will never encounter the possibility that another mind or being can exist inside their head.
As they develop they begin to understand that the person they are communicating with is their own personality and that is integrated into their psyche quite naturally.
On the other hand the child who has had to reject that mirror image of themselves and replace it with the concept of an all seeing eye in their mind capable of knowing their every intimate thought is for the young child a very real concept and as such will be accepted and integrated into their personality.
Once this has been accepted by the child they are at the whim and the disposal of any entity who can claim to have a closer connection to the god that exists in their head which they see as a separate personality or entity.
Kutner (n.d.) reported that 65% of seven-year old children report they have had an imaginary companion at some point in their lives. He further reported:
"Imaginary companions are an integral part of many children's lives. They provide comfort in times of stress, companionship when they're lonely, someone to boss around when they feel powerless,and someone to blame for the broken lamp in the living room. Most important, an imaginary companion is a tool young children use to help them make sense of the adult world."
A fractured sense of identity that may last a lifetime
The theft of the child's mind is irrevocable once its position of authority is cemented in place through the use of religious threat and it's blackmail style through the introduction of the devil and the terror of the Catholic Hell.
Those in a position of authority over the child have a position of control at a level of understanding that is not available to the child while they hold to the notion of the existence of a god or other "spirit" entities. The ability to control the innocent mind is a circuitous one that the child's mind simply cannot untangle.
The child must cede to this pressure and sets in place a marker in their mind that this is an immutable rule that must be enforced as to do otherwise there is the immediate risk of losing one's life; as well the added threat of rejection builds a barrier too great for the child to surmount. The role of the priest becomes one who has access through his connection with god giving him total control over every aspect of the self of the hapless child. Effectively they have been psychologically trapped by a concept that is beyond their cognitive ability at this early and vulnerable stage of their life.
Some of the future potential issues that may arise for a child who has experienced such a trauma would include a wide range of psychological issues including multiple personality disorder, bi-polar, schizophrenia, denial, disconnected personality, escapism, suppressed anger, suppressed rage. The individual will find it difficult to identify which are real threats and which are imagined; as well they will never be able to stand up to the control that is wielded over them and as such they are forced to project their fears on to any who may accidentally touch on their vulnerability.
The child will remain trapped in a perpetual state of pending doom or disaster for however long they retain the notion or concept of the existence of a god, devil of the Christian kind or other religiously inspired spiritual concepts. It is for this reason that the child can receive countless apologies and assertions that their safety is assured and yet they remain psychologically trapped in this most insidious form of child abuse until they are free to develop to their full potential as a human being.
A child raised in such a manner must find blackmail, bribery, coercion, deception, excuse making, double or floating or moving standards, mystification, and subterfuge to be a natural aspect of their world and environment as without these dysfunctional features in their life they would not have been able to survive for as long as they have. The unfortunate child is left to live a life of perpetual fear that their constructed world view can be torn down and thus they must forever be on guard against any who attempt to encourage them to question the fallacies of their childhood. Truth for them is and will remain a convoluted construction that must never allow for the facts and the reality of evidence or reason to exist in their environment.