by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief
From the fear of shadows to the belief that there’s a real live monster living behind their bedroom closet door, it’s not uncommon for children to share their bedtime concerns. In fact, around the age of three, when children’s imaginations are really developing and nightmares can be frequent, it’s not unusual for children to become terrified at bedtime. Bedtime is, after all, a scary place. It is dark, lonely and quiet.
While it can be tempting to ignore a child’s fears or brush them off as silly, don’t. At this age, children need to feel heard and when you acknowledge your child’s fears you’re building confidence in your parent and child relationship and deepening your child’s sense of trust. Instead of saying “Big boys don’t get scared,” try “You know when I get scared, I think of happy things” and share some of your childhood fears and how you persevered through them.
You can also try to find out the root of the child’s fear. Is it a creaking door that’s setting off his monster radar or perhaps he watched something on television that seemed harmless at the time, but has taken on a life of its own once the lights went out. Ask open ended questions, like can you describe the monster?, to help get to the root or trigger of your child’s fears.
Once you’ve let your child know that you’ve heard his fear and you’ve tried to figure out the root of it, be his superhero and set off to slay his monster. While you certainly don’t want to convey that monsters really do exist in his room, you can certainly tell him the truth, that monsters are pretend and exist only in books and on television, you can also take steps to prove yourself true and show him that there’s really nothing hiding under his bed.
Since no tactic or trick will work for every child, all the time, you may have to try a few strategies before your child’s monster is put to bed once and for all.
Wondering how some of the folks at eNannySource deal with their children’s fears? Check out these magnificent monster slaying tips below.
We did two things – for one child, we put one of my shirts in her bed to help her to remember that I am there, and then with the other child we put a picture of mommy and daddy by the bed and told her if she got scared to look at the picture and remember that we love her.
Ken Myers, President, eNannySource
If my kids have a bad dream I have them draw a picture of it and make it funny. For example, if there was a scary man, I have them draw the scary man with a great big clown nose or whatever they can to make it funny. If they don’t want to draw we just talk about it and change the dream in some way to make it better. What also works well are the stuffed animals with lights at the top that fill room with stars. Even my teenagers love them.
Lorin Biederman, Operations Manager, eNannySource
I have used a book called The Moon in My Room. It has a night light in it that the kids can push, but then it goes off after a few minutes. I also used to go around and inspect the room with them before bedtime to make sure we looked in all the usual places for monsters before the lights went out. You can also use the Tinkerbell approach and give them a remedy for Monsters. Remind them that “just like Tinkerbell needed you to believe in fairies to make her better, you can think about your favorite things – think about what they look like, how they smell, or feel – to fight the monster, if you think that there are any, and they will lose all of their power.”
Rachel Lawrence, Placement Specialist, Morningside Nannies
And my best tip?
Get out the monster spray. Fill a spray bottle with water and add a drop or two of a soothing essential oil, like lavender, for good measure. Create a “no monsters” label with your child, affix the label to the bottle and turn it to mist to spray those monsters away.