Monsters can be a very real fear for many little kids. Looking under the bed with trepidation and keeping a nightlight on are more common than you might think. Just try to think back to your own childhood and you can probably remember nights where you were sure a monster was hiding in your closet. As adults, we know those fears are irrational but can feel extremely real to your child. Getting your child over this hump is important for their development – and all your sleep!
5 ways to help them get over their fear of monsters
Do a safety check with them
Show them in real ways that there is no way a monster can possibly enter their room. This might not solve the problem long term but it can help in the moment to convince them that they will be safe. The request to check under their bed or in their closet will be frequent, so get used to it – or you may even make it part of your nighttime routine.
Reassuring them by doing this will help them fall asleep quicker. But, again, it might not solve the long term problem if they aren’t able to get over the fear by themselves. For the time being, lead by example and demonstrate that they have nothing to be scared of.
Make the monster fun
Try to change their perception of the monster. Have them draw pictures of their imagination and then draw a picture of the ‘monster’ you see. Make them friendly and playful, so that they start to believe the monster is simply a fun friend.
Read books or watch movies about fun monsters
If monsters (or bugs or big, scary animals) scare them, read them books and watch movies about friendly monsters/animals/bugs. Play along with the narratives and frequently reiterate that whatever is in their heads can be a friend instead of a phobia.
Reward brave behaviour
Use a sticker chart to encourage them to make it through the night. If they make it through a full week without calling you to check under their bed, they can get some type of reward. This will be a good incentive for them while pushing them to face their fears and console themselves.
Let them know you hear their fears
Even though these are irrational, never laugh or dismiss them. This may only increase their discomfort and unease. Acknowledging their feelings but pushing them to face them is what is important.
Monsters or other fears will come into the picture as your little one is beginning to learn about their surroundings and what might be out of their control. Find little ways to comfort them but get ready to become super aware of their closets! Either way, your little one will grow out of this stage soon enough with the right support and guidance.