Everyone needs rest. A good night’s sleep is not just important for adults but for kids as well.
When a child fails to get enough sleep, this can affect their ability to pay attention, with consequences for their academic performance in school. Poor sleep can also cause a kid to swing between hyperactive and grumpy, with effects that mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Every night, children around the world worry about the monster under the bed. This common fear prevents your little one from getting the adequate, quality sleep they need.
If your little ones are afraid of the dark and are convinced that the monster under their bed will crawl out, don’t worry. You can take steps to help your kids overcome teraphobia and get better sleep at night.
What Does “Monster Under the Bed” Mean?
Before we get to the solution, let’s first define the phrase “monsters under the bed”. Depending on the country or region, these fictional creatures are supposed to sneak in under the cover of darkness and hurt, steal or eat kids who misbehave in some way. The bogeyman, for instance, may come and kidnap children who don’t behave in a certain way or refuse to go to bed.
Dozens of cultures and countries have some variations of the bogeyman, and some are scary. Several Latin nations feature the Sack Man who steals misbehaving kids and puts them away in a sack. Russia has Baba Yaga, an old and powerful witch that eats kids. The Netherlands has the Butzemann, a shadowy, cloaked figure that hides in corners and under beds waiting for little ones to stay up past their bedtime.
What’s common with all these countries is that they share the concept of monster under the bed that can prevent your child from getting a good night’s rest.
Why are Kids Scared of Monsters Under Their Beds?
The world can be a scary place for kids. The things they hear and see are new at one point and have to figure out whether they pose a threat or not. Part of that frame of reference comes from a kid’s parents. A child will likely believe that something is scary if their mom or dad says it’s scary.
The fear of a monster under the bed, similar to nightmares, begins between four and five years of age as a kid’s imagination. This becomes more vivid, as kids start to understand more abstract concepts but still encounter difficulty differentiating fact from fiction.
This fear may also originate from the child’s quickly expanding imagination along with the lack of understanding of the world around them. Kids lack experience in mastering the art of falling asleep and coping with sounds at night. They’re particularly vulnerable to indicators or signs of threat at night.
Kids develop cognitive skills along with their ability to imagine things like scary monsters when they enter their primary school years. Their fear of the dark gets projected onto the caricature of the Sack Man, bogeyman or whatever monster is under the bed.
How to Get Rid of the So-Called Monster Under the Bed
As a parent, you need to demonstrate empathy to your child when they’re afraid of a fictitious monster under the bed. You maintain this even when your kid cries out repeatedly or gets out of bed every night.
Here are some suggestions to alleviate fears about creatures lurking under the bed:
Come up with a Calming Bedtime Routine
A good bedtime routine can help a child relax their mind before going to bed. A few things you might want to incorporate into your kid’s bedtime routine are snuggling with Mom or Dad, reading a few books or bedtime stories and taking a bath. A calming routine can help your little ones fall asleep quicker — which translates to less time worrying about the monsters under the bed.
Monitor Your Child’s Media and Gaming Console Use
Restrict your child’s access to media and games that includes violence, horror or anything that might be scary. Also, be particularly mindful of anything your little one may be confusing just before bedtime.
Use a Night Light
An additional light source in the bedroom or hallway may help alleviate a child’s fear of the dark or monsters. Just make sure you do this cautiously. Light can disrupt a kid’s circadian rhythms and keep them awake longer. When getting a night light, keep it dim and prevent it from shining your child’s face.
Practice Being in the Dark
When your child is afraid of the dark, doing something enjoyable when the lights are out can help them realize that darkness isn’t scary at all. You could, for instance, tell bedtime tales using just a flashlight. You could also look at the moon and the stars before bed and help your child find the constellations. The goal of this activity is to show that darkness isn’t a bad thing.
Look Under the Bed Together
Before you turn off the room lights, ask your child if they want to look under the bed together. Use a flashlight and tell your little one what you see. Searching the place where kids think monsters might be hiding helps them face their fears head-on.
Using a little creativity and kindness, you can help your child overcome the fear of a monster hiding under the bed. Helping them face this fear builds a foundation for working through other fears they may face in the future.