In the wee hours of the morning, you hear your child call out your name. You look at the clock, see that it’s the middle of the night, glance over at your husband who is still sleeping soundly and roll your eyes as you get out of bed and head to your child’s room to assure them that there are no monsters under their bed for the Nth time that week. If this scene sounds, all too familiar to you, you are not alone.
According to Healthychildren.org, a study showed that about 43% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 reported having fears and concerns. Fears are common in children and can vary from being afraid of the dark or having a fear of strangers or fearing that dreaded monster under the bed. You could just let it go, cross your fingers and hope that it’s a phase that will work itself out or you can take a proactive approach by implementing these 4 steps that will help your child to face their fears and get your family back to their normal routine.
Understand their fear
There can be many reasons that your child is afraid of monsters under the bed. If they’re younger, it could be that their increased imaginative abilities are the cause. If they’re a little bit older, they may have legitimate fears as their understanding of reality grows and it manifests itself as monsters.
Understanding what’s causing this fear can be accomplished in a number of ways: You can turn to Google and a simple search of developments associated with your child’s age may shed a ton of light. You can talk to friends and family with children around the same age or who have slightly older children to find out if they’re experiencing similar fears or you can talk to your child. Depending on how old they are, they may be able to give you some insight into how they’re feeling.
Address the fear
For adults, it’s sometimes hard not to minimize children’s fears as being silly but as silly as they may seem to you, they are very serious to them and the best thing that you can do for your child is to treat it that way. You may feel uncomfortable but talk to your child about the monsters that they think are under their bed as seriously as you would talk to your banker about a mortgage for your dream home. Not only will this help you to solve the monster problem, but it will help you to hone great communication skills with your child.
Make light of the fear
This seems to contradict the previous step, but it doesn’t mean that you should laugh at their fears or tell your child that it’s not a serious fear. It’s meant to encourage you to get playful with how you deal with the fear. Get down on your knees and literally look for monsters under the bed, behind the curtains and in the closet before bedtime. Sometimes all your child needs from you is a little security and assurance. If they’re not too afraid, get them involved in the looking process. Talk about fun monsters that they may know and love like Cookie Monster or Elmo! Ask your child if they think that those monsters are cuddly or scary? Give them a new gauge of what a monster is to make whatever vision they have in their head a little less scary.
Be mindful of what you expose your child to
If you let your child watch TV, you may have to trim back on any TV shows that are suspenseful or potentially scary. Even if you don’t think it’s scary, if you watch your child’s reactions when they’re watching a TV show or movie, you’ll be able to tell if they think it’s scary by their body language and facial expressions. If you read books before bedtime, you may want to think about keeping the reading fun and stay away from wicked witches, scary giants, and spooky ghosts.
Each child is different and some kids may take a little longer to overcome their fears while others will get over them quickly. As a parent, patience is vital to your child’s progress. The more you are able to support your child through this difficult time while they work their way through it, the more you are likely to establish a trust that will endure through this childhood crisis as well as any future ones to come.