It seems like one of the most common issues of childhood â€“ those darn monsters that lurk under beds and hide in the shadows behind closet doors.
As parents, we have to decide how we handle these childish fears but as humans, it might be a good idea to handle them with compassion. A gruff, â€œGo to sleep!â€ may well accomplish the task at hand but in the long run, the message to your child is that her feelings and fears are silly â€“ she has no right to them.
I am not afraid of heights. I am afraid of edges. It doesn’t even have to be an edge up high. I love being up high in a plane, skyscraper or on a Ferris wheel but put me with in a few feet of the edge of a ravine or a balcony and I am terrified.
I get vertigo and I know that I am about to fall. It is ridiculous, but there it is. I canâ€™t imagine being forced to stand at the edge of a ravine and, when my pitiful whimpering became obvious, have someone tell me that there is nothing to be afraid of and I should keep standing there. I promise you I will back away.
Healthy adults donâ€™t worry about what other people think of their fears and they respect the fears and phobias in other adults, extending grace because we all have them. These same adults may not be as accommodating with their children and the fears that are part of their lives.
I have found that one of the best ways to deal with fear of monsters in shadows is to simply kill them. It doesnâ€™t take long and I have used a blow dryer, a squirt gun, and even a â€œmagicâ€ bubble elixir to put these evil minions of the night to the most permanent and painful death possible and my children watched with awe and even glee.
The small amount of time I have invested in this activity has paid off in huge dividends. I mean, really, how many other kids can boast to their friends that their mom is feared by every monster and scary thing in the entire universe?
Steps to Evicting Monsters
First, have a bedtime routine. This is just as important at age ten as it is at age two. Bath, brushing teeth, a short prayer, a bedtime story â€“ whatever works for your family, but be sure to be consistent.
Next, choose your weapons. It is good to have an arsenal and since these are weapons forged of magical stuff and imbued with special powers, they can look like anything. I prefer blow driers and squirt guns but egg whisks, paintbrushes dipped in magic water (can be flicked at the enemy), and Nerf guns work fine.
Explain that once a monster has been hit he is gone. He canâ€™t come back and once the room is free of monsters no new ones can enter for at least a day. Really, itâ€™s in the rule book.
Now, after the proper tucking in ceremony, take about three minutes and find all of the offending inhabitants of your childâ€™s room. Command them to leave, shoot them with your technologically advanced weaponry and then, when the room is free of supernatural vermin, give your child a kiss and leave him with one of your weapons.
At some point your child will look at you, roll her eyes, and tell you there are no such thing as monsters. You might be surprised to find that rather than feeling freed from this nightly ritual, you miss it. Maybe more than you want to admit.
No worries, eventually there are grandchildren.
How do you deal with your child’s fears?
photo credit: Eric Hamiter