It’s normal for young children to be fearful, particularly of the nigh-time. 50% of the children of the age group 3-6 year are affected by fears. Toddlers and preschoolers are commonly fearful of the dark, dogs, meeting new people etc. This is because they see these figures as frightening. Know that your child has to go through this anxiety to cope up with these new experiences. Most of your child’s fears will fade as he/she is better able to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
Tips to help your child battle monster fear:
- Acknowledge your child’s fears. Toddlers often become scared of the dark when they imagine scary figures. If he/she is scared to sleep in the dark room, find out what’s really scaring your child. Hold your child’s hand and look around if there is something casting a scary shadow or making noise in the room. Don’t dismiss or laugh at him/her.
- Be your kid’s no.1 fear-fighter. If your child is afraid, reassure him/her that you are there to protect him. Communicate to your child that he/she is in a safe place.
- Be aware of what your toddler is exposed to. Young children are highly active in imagination henceforth the threatening figures they are exposed to on television is mixed with the reality. Some children’s movies and stories are filled with monsters outrageously misrepresented. So choose what you are watching wisely.
- Don’t use the scare tactic. Using monster as a threaten to make your child obey you will make the matter worse
- Storytelling as a therapeutic tool. At bed-time engage your preschooler in some non-terrifying stories which will shift his/her attention to a good bed-time imagination.
- Add some light. Have a dim night-light in your child’s bedroom so it’s not totally dark. Alternately leaving the bedroom door open so your child is able to see other rooms and some light in the hall makes him/her feels secured.
- Explain and explore. Expose children to shows/storylines which ends with making friends with monsters or conquering the monster. This will help your child change his/her attitude towards the monsters. Art is also an amazing communication tool. Your child’s preschool can be really helpful to make friendly version crafts of monsters seeing which the child will feel braver.
- Pretend play. Pre-schoolers are often able to overcome anxiety by pretend playing with friends. If your child is terrified of monsters, try role-playing Halloween which will be fun rather than frightening. Letting the child dress up as monster and creating a goofy set up around where he/she gets to see his/her friends as ‘not-so-scary’ monsters, will help him/her feel empowered. The whole experience will make the child believe that monsters can’t harm you.
- Banish bed-time fears by giving a comfort object. Both toddlers and pre-schoolers can get a great deal of comfort with a security object; be it a blanket or a toy. Let your child clutch the comfort toy while sleeping so he/she feels relaxed throughout the night.
- Be a role model. As parent you need to be mindful of the message you are sending to your child by your actions. If your child sees you becoming afraid of something he/she’s likely to feel scared of the same thing. What you can do instead is confess your fear and tell her how you learned to overcome it.