Jan. 11, 2021

Ask Amy - My Kid Thinks There Are Monsters Under The Bed

How can we deal with the monsters-under-the-bed phase? For kids who still believe in magical things as fully possible, the best "protection" we can offer them from something scary but imaginary might be something equally unreal and totally wonderful.

This week’s question comes from Jaclyn in our Facebook group (facebook.com/whatfreshhellcast):

"Would love some advice for the "monsters under the bed" phase. My three-year-old is worse than he was as a newborn, waking me up 30 times at night! If I ignore him, he will scream and cry, then come into our room. I could let him sleep with us, but he doesn't sleep well when he is in our bed, and neither do we. I tried to put a bed for him on the floor of our room, but he kept asking for more items-water, blankets, pillows, etc. Help!"

In his book The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Dr. Jonathan Karp considers kids' developmental stages as a replay of humanity's evolutionary stages. A 12-18 month old is a "charming chimp-child," 18-24 months is a little Bam-Bam, and by 3 years old, kids have gotten about as sophisticated as someone alive during the Middle Ages might have been.

To people alive in the Middle Ages, vampires were real. They didn't have the luxury of going to therapy to unpack what was behind their fear of someone coming to drink their blood; they put some garlic around their necks and went to bed feeling a little better about their chances of waking up in the morning.

For kids who still believe in magical things as being fully possible, the best "protection" parents can offer them from something scary but imaginary might be something equally unreal and totally wonderful.

For Amy's daughter, drawing a picture of her guardian angel to put next to her bad was enough to move her past her absolute certainty that Edward Scissorhands was coming to get her. All the rationalizing that Amy had tried before that faile, but to her daughter, the angel's protection was real. Instead of talking her daughter out of it, Amy found that a little "good magic" was the far more effective response.

To be clear: a preschooler waking up at night that much might have something else going on, from a soaking-wet Pull-Up to something that might be worth mentioning to your pediatrician. But a spray bottle full of water, also known as No-Monsters-In-Here Magic Elixir, might be more effective than you'd think.

Send us your parenting questions- we might answer yours next! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com

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