Monsters & Nightmares
During our last Parent’s Discussion Group Meeting, one of the parents brought up the topic of monsters at bedtime. I was surprised to learn how many of our children (toddlers) are having the same experience. Some experts say that nightmares are a reflection of guilt caused by bad behavior during the day. I believe that nightmares and monsters are a reflection of uncertainties. Toddlers are all about uncertainties. They are just stepping out on their own, trying out new feelings, learning new skills, going to new places and having to conform to societal rules. It’s rough! It would require an unimaginable amount of self-esteem to not be uncertain. Right after showering your child with love, building self-esteem is the next essential ingredient in raising a healthy and happy child. So, assuming that ample work has been done on the self-esteem issue, let’s deal with the monsters.
The next day, at circle time, I pulled out Busy Nights by Gail Chislett. The children were completely enchanted. I could see from the look in their faces that I had struck an important chord. I have been told that this book is out of print, so I will relay the bare essential of the story. It is bedtime (you can talk about your own bedtime routine); the child imagines a variety of visitors (some friendly, some not so friendly) - and then - the monster!!! The child calls for Mom; Mom comforts the child.
Do you want me to get rid of the monster? No, It’s too big.
Do you want Daddy to get rid of the monster? No, it’s too big.
Do you think you can get rid of the monster? Sure, I can do it.
The child walks right up to the monster, points a finger in it’s face and says: Get out of my room, monster. You go away. And don’t come back. The monster says OK. This is the part where the child is completely empowered. It’s great. After that I act out the same scene with dolls, and ask each child what the doll should say to the monster. They show no mercy to the monster. If I were the monster I would leave, for sure. I think it is good for the children to practice being assertive to the monster in a playful atmosphere. Then, hopefully, they can pull it off when it really counts - when they are distressed, and when you are trying to get a good night’s sleep.
If, after reading this article, you are still left with specific question, you are welcome to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.