After overcoming his toddler phobia of anything in a costume (e.g., the Easter bunny, Red Robin, the mascot at the high school football game), my littlest guy moved on to typical preschooler fears: the dark and monsters. When he wanted something from his bedroom, he’d insist I go upstairs with him, even in the middle of the day. When we talked more about why he didn’t want to go alone, he admitted he was afraid there might be a monsters lurking upstairs.
I felt for the kid – these fears are so normal and real when you are four – but at times it was also really inconvenient to have to escort him around the house. I needed a way to empower him to manage his fear, and telling him monsters aren’t real didn’t cut it.
Then I came up with a solution that has worked out really well: We bought Bee a “Monster Whistle.”
Okay, it’s really just a plain ol’ sports whistle. But we call it a Monster Whistle and so it is. I explained to him that the whistle works in two ways: 1) If he blows it, I will come running to him from wherever I am in the house and 2) Monsters hate the noise, so they will run away.
I let him test it out a few times (because you know no child is going to have a whistle and not blow it!) and, after getting that out of his system, he is only allowed to use it in case of emergency. We had a little chat about the boy who cried wolf, to discourage him from blowing it all willy-nilly just for fun.
If my little guy is reluctant to go upstairs by himself, I just suggest he bring his whistle along. He keeps it on his nightstand when he goes to bed, and now I can’t remember the last time he voiced anxiety about being alone at bedtime. His older brother borrowed it last week when he was scared at bedtime and it helped ease his fears too.
Note to self: While the Goosebumps books may be okay for elementary school kids, the tv show is most definitely not. Eight-year-old will be totally freaked out and afraid to go to bed.
The one thing to remember is that, in order for this to work, if your child blows the whistle, you must drop everything and run to them. If you don’t, they’ll lose trust in the system and it won’t work. There are lots of ideas out there for helping kids with fear of the dark and monsters, but this one worked well for us because what Bee really needed was to know I would be there to protect him if he needed it.
Momma – 1. Monsters – 0.
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