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How Do You Handle Kids Who Say There's a Monster Under 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.”