If you have children, you’re likely to have undergone the nightly ‘monster check’ when putting them to bed. From the Bogeyman to Dracula, being scared of monsters come nighttime is sadly a common phenomenon. In this article, we run through the reasons for being scared of monsters under the bed and how you can help your kids overcome their fear allowing them to drift off to the land of nod.
On top of this, children have vivid imaginations, so being left alone during the nighttime is only going to increase the chances of conjuring up creatures. Other contributing factors such as popular culture, magazines, and films often add to this fear of monsters, with renowned characters such as the Bogeyman or Frankenstein's monster providing fuel for kids‘ nightmares.
What is Teraphobia?
If your child is scared of monsters under the bed, they’re likely to have teraphobia. This is the scientific term for a fear of monsters. According to several studies, teraphobia is typically common amongst children aged 3-11 years old. This is usually nothing to worry about and as their understanding of the real world develops, irrational fears should hopefully subside.
What Causes Teraphobia & How to Spot It
As mentioned, fear of monsters at nighttime is often evolutionary as nighttime is when threats are typically heightened. Another cause for teraphobia is children’s vivid imaginations. Child psychologist Dr Laura Hoffman explains this:
“As children enter their primary school years, they develop the cognitive skills and ability to imagine such things as scary monsters, and their fears of the dark get projected onto the caricature of the bogeyman.”
Triggers such as books, films, or cartoons can often fuel teraphobia with their depictions of fictional monsters, so it might be worth monitoring what your child is looking at if they’re struggling to get to sleep.
Common tell-tale signs of teraphobia in your child include:
- Asking you to check under the bed or in wardrobes
- Expressing fears of the dark
- Avoiding or pushing back on bedtimes
- Seeming more tired than usual due to a lack of sleep
- Having a loss of appetite
How Do You Get Rid of Monsters Under the Bed?
If teraphobia is an issue in your home, there are a few things you can do to ease your child through this and help them get to sleep.
Listen to Your Child
One of the most important things to do is offer sensitivity and a listening ear. So never ridicule or belittle your child‘s fears even if they are irrational, this could create an environment they don‘t feel comfortable sharing their fears. Instead, offer sensitivity and validation by recognising how they feel. Ask them questions and reassure them.
Change the Narrative
Typically in popular culture, monsters are portrayed as something to be afraid of. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Consider any media where monsters are depicted as friendly, cute, or cuddly. For example, Monsters Inc is a great film to watch with your children to change the narrative of monsters in their heads. Also, consider buying monster-themed soft toys to help them fall asleep with.
Limit Screen Time
The more your child watches TV or plays on an iPad, the more exposed to blue light they are. Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone that helps you drift off. So, instead of their favourite TV show before bed, consider reading to your child to help them become sleepier.
Create a Comforting Routine
Creating a routine, and sticking to it, will help your child establish their body clock and recognise when it’s time to fall asleep. So keep things like bedtime, waking-up time, breakfast, lunch, and dinner at roughly the same time each day. To add more comfort into this routine and increase relaxation, why not include a warm bath before bedtime to soothe their nerves?
Use a “Monster Repellent”
Finally, if your child’s fears aren’t easing, it might be best to play along. A common tip amongst parents is to create a "monster repellent spray" which can be sprayed under the bed or in the wardrobe to deter monsters from showing up. This could simply be water or an aromatherapy spray, such as lavender, which will help them relax even more.