If your child watches television, goes to the grocery store in October, or visits the movie theater, he or she is a prime candidate for developing fear. Even family friendly television channels can be infested with cartoon monsters, witches, ghosts and bad guys.Â Images of monsters under the bed, scary people coming to get them, robbers breaking into the house, or ghosts hanging out in the closet are all fears that the devil uses to attack kids’ minds. This makes bedtime a very difficult and frustrating time for everyone.
Here are six ways to help your child handle his or her fear and master those bedtime monsters.
1. Never minimize your child’s fear. When your child expresses a fear you think is silly (and most do seem silly to parents), don’t roll your eyes, sigh in frustration or say things like, ‘I’ve told you a million times, there are no monsters!’ This reaction only makes him reluctant to come to you next time. The fear is very real for your child. By not taking the fear seriously, you are telling him you don’t take him seriously, thus decreasing his overall security.
2. Don’t maximize your child’s fear. On the flip side, making a big deal of the fear can also make it worse. If you let her sleep with every light on or crawl into bed with you for the night, she may never learn to face her fears. Playing up to her fear will only confirm in her mind that she really does have something to be afraid of.
3. Empathize with your child. Imagine how it feels to be a small child in such a big and scary world. Be honest and share with him about a particular fear you have struggled with and how you overcame it. The only difference between adult and child fear is the way we handle them.
4. Be flexible. Realize that bedtime will take longer. Allow an extra half-hour for bedtime preparations. Recognize the fact that she may play stalling games. If a nightlight doesn’t calm her nerves, leaving a hall or bathroom light on may do the trick.
5. Use stories that show God’s protection. Break open the Bible and read stories of God protecting and caring for His people. Check your local library for bogeyman busters like Hang Your Toes over the Bed by Robert D. Ingram, I Will Not be Afraid by Michelle Medlock Adams’ and the Veggie Tales video, Where’s God When I’m S-Scared?
6. Pray with your child. Perhaps the greatest thing you can do with and for your child is pray. This teaches him that God is bigger than his fear and that he can ask God for help when he’s afraid. Remember to thank God every night for His protection.
Faith is the opposite of fear. When you take an active role during daytime hours of pumping your child full of faith, it won’t be long before the fear is deflated. Monsters will be mastered and bedtime will become peaceful again.