You put your kid to bed. It’s your time to try and finish all the chores around the house; dishes, laundry, toy pick up, making lunches. It’s so much harder to get all that done (and have time to put your feet up) when your little one keeps getting up. If it’s not a trip to the bathroom it’s a glass of water or a back rub. One of the most dreaded responses from your child is that they have a monster under their bed (or in their closet). Look no further – we can’t promise that your child will be asleep with no problems – but you’ve come with the right place to get rid of monsters!
1. Talk about it.
When your child tells you something like this it’s important to listen rather than just to shrug it off. This fear (or any fear) can be a good time to connect with your child and reassure them that you are there for them and keeping them safe.
Ask your child what makes them think there is a monster (see it, hear it, feel it) as the answer to this may be a clue to you as to which solution might be best suited for you. It’s also a good time to ask how they feel about said monster. Are they scared? If so you could talk about things they could do to make themselves fee better – leave the door open a crack, pull the covers right up to their chin, etc. This is a good time to empathize with your child by sharing your own stories of your fear of monsters as a child!
2. Have a nightlight.
A fear of something your child can’t see could be solved when they can actually see what is going on in their room.
Whether it’s a nightlight, keeping the closet light on or leaving the door open a crack so they can see the hall light, having a little light can help keep a child’s fears at bay. That being said, lights can also cause shadows (which could be perceived as monsters), so you may have to go back to step one and talk to your child about what shadows are and how they’re made.
A good book for this aspect is The Berenstein Bears and the Dark. Making shadow puppets can also help children comprehend what a shadow is. You could always use your child’s imagination (which made up the monster in the first place) to imagine that the monster is afraid of the light and only comes out in the dark so the nightlight is a way of warding off the monster.
3. Draw a picture/make a sign.
Ask your child to draw a picture of the monster that they see under their bed. Then draw a big red circle around it and a line through it and post it on your child’s door. If your kid doesn’t want to draw it you could probably just find a clipart monster and do the same.
If your child prefers to print it then have them write a sign saying ‘no monsters allowed’ or ‘monster-free zone’. Having them as involved as possible is key – having them make the sign is important so they feel ownership over the solution. Once again talk about how the monster is respectful (and can read) and will not come into the room if you have politely asked them not to.
4. Look under the bed.
Truly listening to your child means taking them seriously, even when you know it’s just not possible. If they say there’s a monster, take the time to look. Genuinely inquire; could it be this pair of socks you thought was a monster? Does this monster like to be under there when there’s stuff there or only if it’s really clean? Both situations are easily solved; either clean out under the bed or specifically put something there for storage.
When you do look your child will surely have a reason why the monster is no longer there. Whatever logic your child uses, try and reason with them. Put out positive statements like ‘in our house we only have friendly monsters,’ for instance.
5. Get some monster-be-gone.
If your child still insists that the monster is there you can go to the store and buy some monster-be-gone (read: buy a spray bottle at the dollar store and fill it with water and put a label on it that says ‘monster-be-gone’ or whatever name you choose to call it). Before bed have your child spray the monster-be-gone on the areas affected with monsters.
6. Introduce kind monsters.
Monsters are, typically, scary beings. These ideas can come from TV, movies or books. When possible, try and shy away from these scary monsters in order to not give your child more ideas in their head to have their imagination spin off of.
There are friendly monsters out there! Think Sesame Street, talk about Elmo and Cookie Monster and how they’re monsters, just like the one under their bed, and there’s no need to be scared by them. They are friendly, kind and no cause for alarm.
7. Put the mattress right on the floor.
If all else fails and that pesky monster is still under their bed, take away the frame and put the mattress right on the floor. If there is no ‘under the bed’ there is no way a monster can be there.
This solution doesn’t work for all monsters, as you can’t take away a closet if that’s where the monster is hiding. But closing the closet door could modify this solution or putting a sheet over a dresser saying it’s a magical sheet that monsters can’t get through or around.
8. Things to avoid.
It can seem like it’s taking forever for your child to ‘get over’ their fear of monsters, but patience and understanding are going to be your best friends. Try not to discount what the child is saying by stating ‘there is no such thing as monsters’ or ‘no you didn’t see a monster’. Keep their dignity intact by avoiding hurtful language such as ‘you’re such a baby, there’s nothing to be scared of’ or ‘don’t be stupid, monsters aren’t real.’ The more you build trust now, the more of a solid foundation of a relationship you’ll have moving forward.
Getting rid of the monsters under your child’s bed is going to take time, patience, and a few sly moves from you as a parent. Thinking there is a monster under the bed is very normal as children have active imaginations that can get carried away easily. Good luck with your quest and remember to have a little fun with this one; try to imagine it from your child’s perspective.