Monster Fear: Strategies for Helping Young Children Overcome the Fear of Monsters
Fear of Monsters (Teratophobia)
One of the most common nighttime fears of early childhood is Teratophobia or ‘Monster Fear.’ The Fear of Monsters is however a relatively typical fear among young children although it does usually resolves itself with time and age. Generally speaking Monster Fears are confined to children between 3 and 8 years of age but thankfully there are a number of very practical and effective strategies for helping young children deal with their fear of monsters, which can be all too real to the young children themselves at the time.
Quick fix tips for Helping Young Children Overcome the Fear of Monsters
It may seem like an obvious one but if you have not already done so, you could provide your child with a small nightlight which can be left on whilst he or she sleeps. This alone can immediately help many young children in overcoming the fear of monsters
Another quick tip to help build your child’s ‘Monster Fear’ confidence is to simply place ‘No Monsters Allowed’ signs outside the bedroom or on the bedroom windows etc.
It’s always worth informing your child that there is no need to be afraid of monsters. Discuss with them that monsters are only make believe and that your child is in fact much stronger than any monster. The impact of this message will depend on such things as your child’s age or level of understanding, the extremity, origin, recency or indeed longevity of their particular Fear of Monsters but hopefully the message will be assimilated over time
Overcoming the Fear of Monsters:The ‘Magic Weapon’ strategy.
“I’m not afraid of Monsters”
Provide your child with a very special new magic sword, lightsaber or wand etc. (whatever ‘magic weapon’ resonates best with your child for this purpose).Some families due to certain religious or personal beliefs may not be comfortable with the notion of their child being encouraged to use even a make believe or notional ‘magic weapon’ to overcome the fear of monsters. If this is the case, it may be more appropriate for you to use a religious symbol or some other icon etc.in place of the ‘Magic Weapon’ concept .This can work just as well in helping to give young children the required confidence in facing their fear of monsters
Allow your child to sleep with their “magic sword” or “lightsaber” by their bed or behind their pillow etc. and tell them that they’d be more than capable of dispatching any possible monster if it bothered them. You could also tell them that no monster would even dare to enter the house or room of a child that possessed such a “magic sword/lightsaber/symbol” etc.
Inform your child that no-one or thing (monster etc.) can hurt them while they’re sleeping, especially as they now have their “magic sword” by their side. If necessary you can also reassure them that once they go to sleep with their ‘magic weapon’ they’ll also have it with them in their dreams so that there’s no need to be afraid of monsters there either
If your child does awaken and comes into you reporting that they’re afraid of monsters, simply escort them back to their bedroom and remind them of the power of their “magic weapon” and allow them to go back to sleep whilst holding their magic sword etc. next to themselves in the bed/whatever makes them feel safe or helps them in overcoming their monster fear
Giving a young child something such as a “magic sword” that will protect them can be a very effective way in helping young children be less anxious and it also helps to give them a sense of control over their fear of monsters and any monster nightmares they may be having
Overcoming the Fear of Monsters:The ‘Monster Search' and 'Monster Spray’ strategies.
This is a variation of strategies that have worked very well for many parents in helping their children in overcoming the fear of Monsters .Combining a ‘search’ strategy for calming and reassurance along with a ‘monster spray’ strategy (Don’t worry it will all become clear) for protection/prevention is a powerful combination for tackling any childhood monster fear.
You can choose to combine both of these ‘Monster Fear’ busting strategies into one ritual or just perform one strategy after the other, whatever works best for you and your child. Each strategy should become part of your child’s bedroom routine, performed each night before getting into bed.
Step 1: You and your child will carry out a comprehensive ‘Monster Search’ ritual. This should be a relatively enthusiastic affair whereby you confidently march around the room together (Anti-Monster Flashlights In Hand), conducting your ‘Monster Search’; checking behind doors, curtains, blinds, under beds, inside laundry baskets etc. all the time confirming and confidently asserting the absence of any Monsters and reasserting that there is no need to be afraid of any Monsters. This may also be a good time to check the ‘No Monsters Allowed' signs which have been placed on the bedroom door and windows etc.
Step 2: Now that you are sure there are no Monsters hiding in wait to pounce, you can proceed to the ‘Monster Spray’ strategy. All you need for the Monster Spray strategy is an empty spray bottle which you can then fill up with a scented water of some kind. Inform your child that this pleasant smelling ‘monster spray’ is actually an extremely powerful and potent Monster Deterrent and that Monsters absolutely hate it and will do anything they can to avoid it. You then proceed to spray the ‘Monster Deterrent’ around the child’s bedroom; under the bed, behind the door, in the corners, up high, down low etc. You can also shout some appropriate mantra such as “Out with you Monsters!” or “Monsters be Gone!” etc. as you make your nightly patrol with the deadly ‘Monster Spray’ in hand. If you’re creative you could perhaps come up with a short anti-monster tune to sing as you conduct your monster checking and cleansing routines.Overcoming the fear of Monsters will be child's play :-)
Overcoming the Fear:Supporting Strategies for ‘Monster Fear’
Remember to always praise young children for being big and brave and for staying in their own room and/or not waking Mammy and Daddy up and also remember to acknowledge any other times were they manage their fear of monsters or anxiety well or behave in a relatively mature way in response to any unsettling or less than favourable situations or experiences that previously may have resulted in them displaying fear and/or anxiety – this will gradually help them to first accept and then begin to believe and behave as a big brave boy or girl would and thus help them to feel and trust that they are indeed safe and in control. They will gradually come to realise that they are no longer afraid of monsters
Refrain from providing excessive comforting on these occasions and rather focus on reassuring them that they are safe and that they have their “magic sword” etc. The focus is on both empowering them to face their fear of monsters by themselves and in reducing their reliance on parental support and comforting during the night
It is vital that you be firm and consistent in managing you child’s night time fears and do not allow your child to begin sleeping in your bed or relying on you to be in theirs in order for them to cope with their monster fear
A Token Economy or other motivation system could be used to help encourage and motivate you child in facing their fear of monsters. A simple token economy for example could be set up whereby children are awarded for demonstrating a reduced fear of monsters or for full nights spent in their own beds/rooms etc .It’s best to set the initial criteria for success at a level that the child can succeed and gradually building on what is expected. E.g. If a child who awakens with a fear of monsters on average comes into his or her parents bedroom 5 times per night you may set the criteria for success (thereby earning a token which along with other tokens may later be exchanged for a treat etc) at 4 or less visits to the parental bedroom per night. With a few nights success the criteria might be tightened to 3 or less visits per night and so on as success continues.Helping young children learn to not be afraid of monsters in this gradual and safe way can be very effective
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