Parenting

How Do You Handle Kids Who Say There's a Monster Under the Bed?

Two kids (brother and sister) are hiding under the bed with fear while the father is in front of the bed

Someone on Quora asked a particularly interesting question that many parents have dealt with at one point or another: “If your 3-year-old tells you there’s a monster in their room, do you dismiss what they’re seeing or feed into it asking them to describe what it is they saw?” Other than teaching your child how to ward off vampires with cloves of garlic, how do you handle the news that the house has been invaded by monsters?

Listen to their monster story.

“You definitely listen,” mental health professional Shulamit Widawsky wrote. “This is not obviously a mental health issue.”

“For example, what a kid calls a monster, you might call a plumbing leak. Your child might be hearing something or seeing something that requires attention, or your child might just be asking for attention.”

“Either way, you will never know what is happening if you ‘dismiss’ what they are saying. Start by assuming that there IS SOMETHING, you just don’t know what. Of course, it is not a monster, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an animal, a twig scratching the window from a tree, a particularly odd shadow cast in the room, etc.”

“No matter what it is, your child is asking for you to protect them. Go help your 3-year-old see that it is not anything bad, or find out that there is something that needs attention, but definitely do not tell your 3-year-old that you don’t care, through your actions or words.”

“Now, if you find absolutely nothing at all, and your 3-year-old just wants to tell stories, listen to the stories. If your 3-year-old is having problems, that is a whole different thing, but you won’t know until you listen and investigate.”

I hear silver bullets work well too.

Amber Hangture suggests that parents should purchase “Monster Spray”:

“Listen and take your child’s concerns seriously. Then spray under your child’s bed and in the closet. You can even leave the spray in their room so they can spray at night without waking you up. This should ease their tensions.”

You may actually find a monster…

Biologist Cynthia Hughes Dadmun said, “Once, my young son interrupted me in the middle of something important with a hare-brained story about a scary animal in the closet with feelers on its head that stared at him. I almost shooed him away, but he was very sincere, and rather precise with the description. When I investigated, we looked in the closet, which had my husband’s rarely used hiking boots.”

“As we looked, a very large centipede raised its head over the edge of the boot and checked us out. Turns out it was a 6-inch desert scolopendra centipede that isn’t even supposed to live around here. You certainly wouldn’t want to get bit by one! We now keep screens on the windows, and I always take what my kids say seriously. Builds trust… and warns me about huge centipedes.”

Superdaddy to the rescue!

“First of all, never dismiss whatever a kid says,” IT expert Sinto Sinop wrote. “In fact, if they say there’s a monster, there is indeed a monster, so get ready for a challenging fight.”

“When my daughter has told me some freaky-looking thing is watching her in her room, I’ve quickly transformed into Superdaddy, and took her with me to take care of the nasty bastard that was causing discomfort to my baby girl. But the abomination was a coward, he was indeed afraid of Superdaddy, and had hidden in the deepest corners of the room and waited till I go away, trying to trick me into believing it didn’t exist.”

Sinto continued: “But no, mister, Superdaddy cannot be fooled that easily. I used its own trick on him and made him believe that I was sure there was no such thing. As ugly as it was, the stupidity of the unholy creature outweighed everything. And there it was- Right there in my baby girl’s closet, disguised as a weirdly trifold quilt, and could only be seen from 28 degrees angle, on the wall, like a shadow, in the light of the bedside lamp. With one swift move, I turned it over, and after a quick re-folding, and therefore disrupting its metabolism, causing it to be cast out of the quilt, I shut the closet door and banished it forever whence it came.”

“Then I told her it was just a quilt, and kissed her good night.”

The next generation of Ghostbusters will be expert archers.

Bernhard Støcker, an economical mathematician, wrote how their home deals with an infestation of ghoulies:

“My oldest son (4 years) always tells me there are ghosts in our house, and he will hunt them with an arrow and bow. So in his case, I don’t see an issue, since he isn’t afraid of it, but I usually tell him he doesn’t need to worry, because the ghosts are afraid of me, so they won’t come into our house. That’s worked so far.”

“I read books to them every evening, and some of the tales also included some ghosts or monsters, but these ghosts and monsters were always nice and helpful. Maybe he doesn’t worry because of that.”

Sage advice for monster hunters:

Babysitter Holly-Ann Bluett may not have kids of her own, but she knows exactly how to handle the news from an upset child that there’s a monster on the loose:

“On a few occasions I’ve had young ones run out of their rooms crying and saying they’ve seen a monster. I always go back with them to their room, and ask where it is.”

“I once had an issue with a baby monitor where I heard a male voice come through, so I turned it off. The parents looked into it, but told me they’d bought a new one just in case.”

“One time a little girl said she heard a water monster. Sure enough, a pipe had burst just above her room. Pretty frightening.”

“Sometimes it’s worth checking. Not just for their peace of mind, but yours.”

Slaying the dragon.

Courtney Ballard wrote: “Several years ago, my daughter was having nightmares about a dragon.”

“It was breathing fire on her. She would wake up screaming when the flame hit her.”

“I sat on the bed with her and we envisioned the dragon, and imagined her with a shield and sword. She described the shield and sword to me, down to the color (it was purple) and told me how she would use the sword to poke the dragon until it went away.”

“She was three. No more dragons. Not one. Ever since. She just turned nine.”

“Just saying ‘it’s not real’ doesn’t work. You have to help the kid deal with it.”

***

As tempting as it may be to grunt “GET BACK IN BED” when your 3-year-old has just awakened you up from a deep sleep to tell you about the giant octopus living in their closet, I’d still listen to her story of what she’s seen and get ready to do battle with the bloodthirsty imaginary mollusk skulking in the darkness. Have you ever been told by your youngsters that there was a monster in the house?