How to Stop Kids from Being Afraid of Monsters

Опубликовал Admin
15-12-2020, 08:10
Fearing monsters in the night is a part of many people's childhood. Vivid imagination is mostly to blame and it is not uncommon for children to have nightmares about innocent daytime realities. A good way to overcome both problems is to empower your child over his fears or the things that frighten him. There is usually no reason to seek out therapy since most of the fear or anxiety dissipates within a few weeks or months. Nighttime is still a scary time for adults after all.

Exploring the Room

  1. Search for monsters. Ask your child where she thinks the monsters are — under the bed, in the closet, and so on. Then look for the monsters together, and show your child they don’t exist.
    • You don't want to just say, "There's nothing there; go to sleep," nor do you want to encourage the fear by pretending the monsters are there and you can remove them. The best way to tackle the fear is to actually show your child that the monsters aren't real in this world and they have nothing to fear.
  2. Conquer nighttime together. The darkness of the night allows imaginations to run wild. Spend some time with your child in his room at night and find the shadows, scary shapes, or things that might be frightening from his perspective. Then, with each find, slowly explain and show why it is not a monster. If your child can physically determine what he sees is not a monster it will give him more comfort to go to sleep.
    • Enter your child’s room at night, with the night lights or a lamp on low light on and look around the room together for monsters. If your child claims to see a monster, show him that it is just a shadow of the chair, desk, or lamp. Nothing to be afraid of.
    • Lie in bed together and listen for monster sounds. Ask him to identify which sounds he is afraid of. Whenever you hear it, tell him exactly what the sound is so if he hears it again, he will know what it is.
    • Get down on your knees so that you are eye level with your child. See what he sees from his angle. Then explain what he tells you finds scary. If you can, change the location of things that can be mistaken for monsters, like furniture, or remove clothing from a hanger. Do it while he watches and then show him how the environment changed.
    • Install night lights to provide some comfort so your child can see what is around him.

Empowering Your Child

  1. Give your child a sense of control. The more in-control your child is over her nighttime environment, the less likely it is she will be afraid of monsters. Recognize and reward your child when she faces her fears, like when you investigate the closet together. Try doing this together every night and, as she becomes less anxious, have her search the closet on her own, but while you are still in the room. Practice building bravery slowly and gradually.
    • When your child successfully faces her fears, praise and encourage her bravery. For instance, you could say something like: "Whoa! You are so brave! You checked that closet all by yourself; I bet you could handle any scary situation!" or "I'm proud of you for spending the whole night in your own room!"
    • It may be helpful to come up with a plan for what to do if you aren't there, such as when your child wakes from a nightmare. This plan might include teaching your child calming techniques, such as breathing deeply (ask her to imagine filling her lungs like a balloon, then let the balloon deflate), or visualization (she can imagine she is somewhere else that is calming and soothing, such as floating on a cloud.
  2. Give your child a companion. Your child can use a stuffed animal as a tangible reminder that he is safe. Tell your child to squeeze or stroke the animal when he is scared and focus on how soft, warm, and safe the stuffed animal is. This helps teach your child to self-soothe.
    • Assign the animal a job: to remind your child that monsters aren't real. Tell your child that, whenever he is scared, he can touch the animal to remind her of what is real. He can say, "This stuffed animal is real. Monsters are not real in this world.
    • It may also be helpful to use visualization again. Your child could imagine that mom, dad, or an older sibling is right there in the room with her.
  3. Talk to your child about what will make her feel safe. Instead of focusing on the monsters, focus instead on what will make the child feel safe. A night light? Leaving the door open? Brainstorm with your child to find a solution that will not encourage her fear.

Talking It Out

  1. Discuss reality and imagination. Use a safer example than monsters. Find something your child created or enjoys and take a moment to discuss the difference between imagination and reality.
    • During the day, have your child draw pictures of the monsters he imagines at night. Then, take time to discuss it with him to help demystify the monster.
    • If your child enjoys drawing special or funny cars then take time and draw a silly one that does not exist right now and ask your child if they ever saw such a crazy car. Take time to explain how you used your imagination to draw the car. Then explain the same concept to them with the monsters.
  2. Acknowledge her fear. Ignoring, devaluing, or extinguishing your child’s fears about monsters will only let your child believe that something is wrong with her. If you belittle her fear, most likely she will still believe in monsters and will no longer talk to you about it.
    • Refrain from saying things like "Big girls don't believe in monsters," or "Don't be a baby," or "The Boogie Man will get you tonight if you don’t go to sleep." Instead, relate to your child by explaining that you once believed in monsters too, and that eventually she will conquer her fears, too.
    • Watch movies like Monsters, Inc. or read books such as Happy Monsters that would be helpful in alleviating the fear of monsters. If there is any part of the movie or book scares her take time to discuss it with her.
    • Role play as monsters. Either you or your child is the monster and have fun with it. Use masks or costumes to make it more real but make sure your child is in complete control and laughing. This should be a fun exercise to give your child a different perspective, not a scary one.
  3. Talk to a therapist. If you child’s nighttime fear and anxiety of monsters becomes too severe or manifest during the daytime, then it might be time to get a psychological evaluation to better identify and treat your child’s fears.
    • Be clear about the difference between fear and phobia. If your child is only afraid of monsters at night when you turn off the light and shut the door, it is most likely fear. If your child refuses to go into the bedroom or gets anxiety when the sun goes down, it is probably a phobia.
    • Fears last a couple of weeks or even a few months, but if your child’s fear lasts longer than six months and continues to get worse, don’t ignore the issue or it could damage your child’s psychological development.
    • Studies have demonstrated that children who have severe nighttime fears often suffer from daytime anxieties, impulsivity, or abnormal attention control. If these fears or anxieties begin to disrupt your child’s normal daily activities, then you should contact your pediatrician or child psychologist.
    • Be aware that this can happen to a child at any age, even an infant.
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