Many of us have a shared childhood experience of tucking our feet into the bed, clutching our blankets tight to keep safe from the monster that was surely lingering under our bed. This fear is a common one for most children, making nighttime a potentially scary time for them. This fear can leads to all sorts of issues, just the thought of a monster living under your bed ready to pop out and scare the crackers out of you can be a huge source of anxiety for kids. Additionally, this fear can lead to behavioral issues at bedtime, which can be incredibly frustrating for parents. At the end of a hard day, it can be difficult to find the patience to tuck in your precious child multiple times because he's afraid he has a freeloading beast hanging out under his bed!
As troubling as it can be for children, the fear of a monster under the bed is actually totally normal. Many children have a fear of night-time, and of monsters. This can manifest itself differently at different developmental stages. As a parent, how you address this will help show your child how to cope with their fears and anxieties.
Talk about it
Validating your child's fears is a wonderful way to keep the lines of communication open in a way that is safe and comforting for them. You don't want to indulge the fantasy and scare them further, but you also don't want to brush them off as if you are not taking their fears seriously. Even in the youngest years, you are teaching your child how to approach you with their concerns. Show them that you will be a caring ally if they are having problems.
Have some bedtime routines or rituals
Fear of the unknown can be scary for kids, but there are some things that they (and you) can have control over. One of those things is a bedtime routine. A routine can be a great way of creating some comforting predictability for little ones. Part of your bedtime routine could be doing monster checks together, reading a book about coping with fears, or simply having a snuggle.
A bonus way to help your child overcome the fear of monsters under the bed is to create some "monster-busting" rituals. This may be as simple as teaching your child to "throw" their bad dreams out the window, or it may be a craft such as making a dreamcatcher or bottle of "bad dream" elixir to keep by their bed. Have fun with it! It may be a ritual that they can use for years to come.
Use a nightlight and some comfort toys
To a child's imagination, the dark can be a scary place to be. Many children are comforted by using a nightlight so that their room doesn't look so dark and frightening. Additionally, using a well loved toy to act as a bedtime companion for kids can help them to feel less alone in the dark.
Try to limit your child's exposure to frightening media
This probably goes without saying but you should take extra care to limit your chilld's exposure to things that might scare them. Children have very active imaginations, but sometimes the things they see on T.V. or online can provide them with a visual of something to fear.
Not all children have the same tolerance for frightening things. Some children may get very scared by seemingly innocent things, while others may be able to tolerate scary monsters in shows without being frightened at all. You know your child best, and will be able to have the best gauge on what they can handle. When in doubt, it's always good to talk to your kids about the things that they've seen and how it made them feel.
Having a fear of monsters under the bed is a totally normal, developmentally-appropriate stage.
If your child has a fear of monsters under the bed, it's important to remember that it's totally normal! Despite how upsetting it can be for kids and for parents, it is only a temporary phase that will resolve itself in due time.