Five Things to Know About Monsters

  1. Being afraid of monsters is real. What children are feeling about monsters (fear, anxiety, anger, etc.) is real. Your child needs to know you believe he is afraid. It’s OK to comfort your child and help him find ways to comfort himself, while at the same time you are telling him monsters are not real.
  2. Monsters are pretend. Children need to know the difference between pretend and real. So, when playing pretend with your child, be sure to say things like, “I like to play pretend with you, so who will slay the pretend dragon first?” or, “I’m done pretending now, let’s be our real selves – no more monsters allowed.”
  3. Monsters can exercise our imagination. Just like you have to exercise your muscles to be able to run a race, children need to exercise the imagination part of their brains to become creative, artistic people – which are the type of people most needed in today’s world. Pretend play is what children need to develop their imaginations. It should be encouraged as long as it is clearly explained as not for real.
  4. Monsters can be scary or nice. Monsters are not real, so your child can make them be any way she wants them to be. Here are some things that can help her outsmart or out-imagine her fears. With the help of a little imagination, a big hairy monster can become teeny tiny, toothless, all furry and cuddly, so sleepy he can’t wake up no matter how hard he tries, or a monster without legs that weebles-wobbles on a round behind. Especially when monsters are part of a scary dream at night, a child can learn to turn the dream into a fun, safe, comforting dream instead. A child can use her imagination to make the monsters be anything she can think of that would be the opposite of scary.
  5. Fighting monsters sends the wrong message.  Chasing bad monsters out of the bedroom, spraying magic potions, or casting a spell on monsters can tell a child that you believe the monsters are real – just as the child fears they are. It says you think you need to protect the child from a real monster. Why else would you be slaying the monster?

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