Sleep: Toddler says we have monsters

My two-year-old son frequently asks, "Monsters in the dark?" We had told him that mommy and daddy made all the monsters leave, and that his bedtime companions, Quack and Pooh, would eat the monsters. That settled it for a while, but then we moved. I've told him that daddy chased all the monsters out with a broom before we moved in, but he doesn't buy it. It breaks my heart to know he's so scared! What should I do?

Question:

I have no doubt that your strategies would have worked if you hadn't moved. Now, however, the monsters are probably associated with the sense of strangeness in the new house.

Do you watch Sesame Street with your son? There are many nice monsters on that program. It may help for him to see them. Perhaps you can tell him that Cookie Monster and Herry are helping to protect him. Elmo, by the way, is also a monster. This might be a quick way to demystify the image of monsters.

Also, you can invent a talisman -- some item that protects your son -- as you have done with the stuffed animals. I used to wrap an imaginary "motherlove circle" around my children when they were young. The circle would always protect them, I assured them. In the morning, when they were fine, I would say, "See how well the motherlove circle did its job?"

Last, and most important, is to help make your house into less of an unfamiliar place for him. Does he miss his old house? Is he worried this one might go away also? You may want to revisit your old home if you suspect that this is the case, just to show your son that it still exists.

As your son becomes used to the new house, his fears about monsters will more than likely disappear. Meanwhile, putting some of these suggestions to work might ease the burden of change for both you and your son.

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