Need Advise on Scared Child

Updated on May 14, 2008
M.A. asks from Valencia, CA
18 answers

My son, 3 years old has always been very independent. Recently he is afraid to be alone when playing with his toys, using the potty, changing his clothes, ect.. I know that he is afraid of "the monster in the vent" and will look for the vents wherever we go. He now wakes up several times at night because of this, requesting that someone go with him to the potty even though it is right next to his room and I've left a night light on in every room so he can see. I just don't know how to distract him of this new fear for him to regain confidence and independence again.

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P.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son went through the same exact thing...RE: monster...I put water in a spray bottle and let my son go around the house to every place he was scared of...(he was afraid of ghosts) He sprayed the "anti-ghost" spray wherever it needed it...

Then if he started to be afraid, I reminded him how we sprayed the ghosts away and that like the flea stuff mommy puts on the dogs, it keeps them away...

I don't know, giving my son the power to do something about his fear made him feel better...since it was in his mind, I thought maybe to use this to overcome it...

Goodluck

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J.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

expalin to him that there are no such things as monsters, that they are just make believe. Try opening the vent showing him that there are no monsters and explain to him what the vents are for, also i think a flashlight is a great idea too.Let him know mommy and daddy are always right down the hall or wherever...

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J.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

maybe what you can do is buy him a small squirt bottle and some light perfume. then you mix the perfume with water and tell him that its monster repellant. then let him spray the vents. also try giving him a flash light for nite time potty runs. could he have seem something maybe on tv that scared him or actually seen something in the vents? anyways i hope he is ok soon good luck!

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

Here is a link on fears in 3 year olds:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&a...

Did he ever actually see something in there in the vent? Sometimes, children "do" actually have a "real" reason for their fears.
Did you ask him why he is afraid of vents?

Is he "new" to sleeping by himself, or in his own room?

I do know that young children will go through and out of periods of being fearful of things...they also have nightmares too. My girl is 5 years old... and she's had her "fear" phases at night going to bed or being by herself especially at night when it is dark. But your son seems to be afraid whenver he is alone even during the daytime?

But, they also grow out of it, or at least the phase will pass. It's a fickle thing. Just provide some comfort and "understanding".... they need to know that someone "hears" them and their feelings. Confidence and independence will renew itself I'm sure... once he passes the phase. It did for my girl as she's matured. Just don't scold him for it... although I"m sure you don't. They are having new feelings about things, "scary" things at night, the boogy man etc.

For my girl, we just let her sleep with us at those times. But she did go back to her room too, and she's evolved, and off and on. We also gave her her very own flashlight... and let her keep it in bed with her... it gave her a sense of "control" and being able to operate it at will if she wanted. She loved that idea and being able to do that.

Perhaps, did he see something scary on t.v. perhaps? Or maybe someone told him a "scary" story? Or did someone do somthing scary to him? Sometimes, growing up, my older sister would tell me "scary" things, thinking it was funny and she'd think it was funny the way I reacted. Yah, not fun for the younger sibling...but well. But that can happen too.

Or is he is in daycare/preschool or anything, did anything happen there? Or is there is change in his life recently?

It's hard to really pinpoint "where" a particular fear originates from... but to a child, it can make sense. Maybe explore things with him, talk about it, his feelings, why, how come, what is a vent, what is does, why it looks that way, etc. Sometimes when a child learns how somethings works, it is less forbidding or scary to them. Maybe during the daytime... see and touch it with him... tell a silly story about it... make it seem less threatening....

Poor little guy... i remember being scared of the dark too when I was little. It passes.
Take care and hope this helps,
~Susan
www.cafepress.com/littlegoogoo

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D.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

He's just learning, whether there are things to be afraid of, and how afraid you are of stuff, he's testing your reactions to his fearful actions. I like the 'monster spray' idea though. Also, I suspect 11-year-old might have something to do with this. Don't make fun of his fear, but make it more light-hearted.

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

We use Febreeze "monster Spray" and it works like a charm.. There is also the book "Nightmare in my Closet" by Mercer Meyer you may want to get. Has he seen Monster's Inc.? Sleeping with a flashlight or glowstick might help for late night potty trips.

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J.W.

answers from Reno on

M.,

It is natural for a child to be afraid of monsters in the closet (heater vent). The best way to have him get over it is to talk to him. Ask him what the monster does. The monster just might want to talk or play. It is a good learning tool for you child and you. Make a game out of it. If it still continues, I would suggest you talk to your Pastor. He might have some ideas on how to move the monster from the vent.

If you want to know more, just e-mail me at: [email protected]____.com.

H.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

M.,

My son went through that (as most do) and NO amount of calm, rational talk worked for me either... so I began usig "moster spray". It comes in a bottle that looks just like frebreeze... hee hee and it's safe to use everywhere, anytime;) we would liberally spray it anytime there was a concern and each night at bedtime (after a thorough inspection under beds and in the closet). After several weeks the fear began to slowly disapear.
Normally I don't indulge in fostering fears, but this approach worked and I never had to deal with it again!

Good Luck,
H.

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A.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Monster spray worked for my nephew-we covered up a spray bottle with water (or febreeze or something like that) and "sprayed" the monsters before bed. It worked for him--I think that he was also 3 when he went through that. For my 2 year old niece my other sister just tells the other monsters that it's time for bed and that their mommies are calling them and that they have to go home--she likes that.

Good luck! My own 2.5 year old hasn't hit that yet...he did wake up the other night screaming "ow! ow! ow!" because he had "spiders biting his toes" the other night. Oh the joys of motherhood ;)

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E.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M.,
Well we've tried a few things with our 3 yo DD and they have all been pretty successful so far.
First of all we let her know that no monsters live in our neighborhood.
We also let her know that mommy and daddy are super tough and can take care of any monsters should they get lost in our neighborhood.
We also had her show us her meanest face and told her that if on the rarest chance that she should encounter a monster, she should show that face and the monster would run away scared.
Also, she goes to a church school and I overheard a child in her class say something about "the monsters" and her teacher said "Oh friends, remember? God didn't make monsters, so there aren't any." Simple, but it seemed to work.
If all else fails, I say go for the spray!

Good luck!

E.

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G.P.

answers from Las Vegas on

I have actually seen monster spray for sale at either walmart or one of the grocery stores. I think it might also help to give him a flashlight.

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B.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

I hope he's not afraid of this "monster in the vent" because someone told him there was a monster in there. That drives me CRAZY when people tell kids stuff like that to scare them- people forget that kids don't have the experience and logic to figure out that monsters, etc aren't real.

That said, just comfort him as the other person says, and tell him over and over that there is no monster. Ask him if he wants to look inside to make sure (don't make him), or if there is anything else that will make him feel better, and ask him why he thinks there is a monster. Be open and honest with him and it will pass.

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J.L.

answers from San Diego on

Hi M., it sounds to me that maybe your 11 year old just playing told your 3 year old about a monster in the vents, small kids don't come up with those things on their own, when my daughter was little one both her big brothers told her that the vacum cleaning can suck her in and of course since they were her big brother she believed them, and after not being scared of the vacum all the sudden she was so I put the vacum hose to my arm to show her that it could not suck her in, so if you have vents in your house, take the vents off show him with a flash light that there is nothing down in there, give him a flash light at night when he goes to bed, so he can use it when he goes to the potty, even though you have night lights, some times kids need something tangeble to help make them feel secure, J.

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S.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi! M.,
This is an old remedy and maybe some of the younger moms have some new ideas, but this seems to work. Get a can of spray air freshener, another sent than you usually use. Make a label that says "Monster Repellant" and maybe you can come up with picture of different monsters. Then before he goes to bed, or any time he is concerned about monsters, this can be sprayed. Now you have realize that this is a very powerful can of repellant and that a little goes a long way!!! The more you play this up the better. Be excited when you come home from the store because you just found this, etc.
Also, you might want to show him the movie Monsters, Inc. I think that is the name. I am a grandma and don't always remember as I usually only see a movie once, if at all.

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T.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

He might have heard some noises coming from the vent, maybe a mouse in the vents, you might have to take the vent cover off look inside of it right in front of him, then show him there is nothing there. Tell him if he hears the noise again to come and get you right away so you both can look. If he doesn't face his fears then nothing worse then not knowing the unknown.

___________________________________________________________

On the other note, I am an paranormal investigator, yes I work and deal with ghosts , I have for over 15 yrs now, I can't tell you how many small kids see ghosts, yet they don't know how to explain what they have seen, 9 times out of 10 they end up being the kids imaginary friend. Many times a grandparent who has died will come back to visit them, maybe a angel ( based upon your beliefs ) and it scares the child.. I would not mention to him about ghosts but you can ask these questions,
can you draw me a picture of what the monster looks like.
did the monster talk to you .
did it make sounds can you make the sound.
it doesnt look like the monster hurt you right ?
not lets look in the vent I bet there will be no monster.

he is not going to forget it unless you let him see and talk about the monster he has to make reasons with it.

Lets us know how it turns out

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L.G.

answers from San Diego on

You could try giving him a small bottle of "monster spray." This is just a water bottle filled with a little colored water. He may feel empowered to carry it with him to the bathroom, etc. Knowing he can spray the monsters away may turn it into a game, and not make it so scary!

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M.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

What your son is going through is very normal for his age. The not wanting to be alone phase will pass. As for monsters, I have another take on them. My understanding is that it is important to reinforce that monsters don't really exist, and that they are ideas that people make up for stories. Often times when well meaning adults make big nightly rituals to protect the room from monsters, they can actually feed into the idea that they do exist. I know that this probably works for many people, which is just great. I'm just offering an alternative. I came across this idea (monsters don't really exist) over ten years ago in my child development studies. I have taken this approach when the topic has come up with kids, and it has worked. When my son was very little, from the very beginning, when the topic of monsters came up, I would tell him that I would need to take a moment to try to imagine what one might look like, since I've never seen one, as they are not real. When he came up with fears about things (like getting sucked into the drain), I would read to him about how the drain worked, the size of the pipe, etc, etc, and he then he was no longer afraid. Now mind you, I was always respectful of his feelings. I just very calmly gave him information so that the drain wasn't this mysterious hole into which things just disappeared.It might be helpful to actually explain to your son that the vents are connected to the air conditioner, as he may have an image in his mind of them being some random entry passages into the house. Now granted, my son is very mechanically inclined, so he loves knowing how things work, and this approach really demystifies things for him.
Back to the monster thing - one time my son did come home from his dad's house saying that he had been afraid of monsters in his room, and his dad was doing the monster spray thing. When my son and I talked about it, we talked about that since monsters are a made up idea, that he also had the choice to make up a different idea to think about. He went to bed that night with no problems. My son complained about there being monsters only at his dad's house. When I spoke to his dad about the monster spray thing, he eventually stopped, and so did my son's concern about monsters at dad's house. This happened when he was 4.
Just another option. All the best!

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E.V.

answers from Los Angeles on

Our daughters tended to lay in bed after lights out and listen to every sound possible and make it into something scary. What solved this was getting a "noise" machine. The one we have makes various nature sounds (waves, thunder, rain, crickets etc.). Not only that but it has a projector which displays the time on the wall or ceiling. Even though they don't get that it's the time, the light is very soothing and gently lights the whole room. The other thing we used to do was spray a light perfume all around the room to scare away the monsters.

It's just a phase and they do grow out of it if that's any comfort right now in your sleep deprived state! :o)

Good luck and 'this too shall pass'!

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