“I Tell My Son, There No Monster Under the Bed” – Query

“I Tell My Son, There No Monster Under the Bed” – Query

Question: My son is 5 years old and every night keeps telling me that there are monsters under the bed and every night I put my head under the bed and show him that there are no monsters. But he doesn’t believe me. And every night we repeat the same thing over and over again. Any ideas.

This is such a great question and is shared by many parents sometimes as monsters under the bed or in the cupboard or insects on the wall or noises from the roof. Whatever the situation when parents try using reason and logic to trying to assure their children that everything is fine. Well, it’s obvious that technology is not working so assuring your daughter that they are no monsters under the bed. Clearly doesn’t seem to be enough. Often we rely on reason and logic and thus doesn’t seem to unlock the situation.

I had one of these kinds of situations where a boy kept saying that he didn’t want to go to sleep alone because the spiders would come through the windows and even though I knew there were no spiders like the ones he was saying he kept insisting that this is what was happening. So I always ask myself the following question. Would I rather spend my time trying to prove that these insects don’t exist or do I want to spend my time on making sure we can prevent this ongoing pattern from happening again? So instead of trying to disprove what my child is saying I have found that moving towards what they are saying is far more effective.

I try on helping children deal with their emotions and that goes like this. So instead of denying that those things exist and move towards trying to find a solution to how we can work with those feelings ok. It seems like you are the person who can tell if those monsters may or may not be there as dead he can’t seem to see them at the moment. So I’m wondering what would need to be in place so that the monsters realize that they can come into this room and they can stay away leaving you safe.

So what do you think need to be in place so they can come in here anymore? You are asking her what she needs such that the problem is solved. You’re sitting here trying to convince her that there is no problem. I want to say that again as it really underpins this approach. You are asking her how to solve this problem instead of trying to convince her. There is no problem. Now you may already be saying to me but Robin or she will say is Dad you need to stay in the room with me. And yes I suspect that is what you would say. So you don’t try and argue that is not a possibility but I acknowledge and re-ask the question so I could stay here with you. That is one possibility and we are exploring other possibilities so that you can feel safe and go to sleep by yourself and dad can also be in his room while you are feeling safe.

What else can we think of that might make this work? These kinds of questions move us closer to finding solutions instead of trying to deny the problem in the first place. In the situation, with the boy and the spiders, this is what I said. I wonder what we can do or put in place so that will prevent the spiders from coming into your room in the first place. He replied. We could use that mosquito netting over the window. Then they can come in. That sounds like a good idea. They would be far too large to climb through the small holes in the netting and that was that before I could even get to putting up the net in the next few days. It never came up again and he seems safe and comfortable in going to sleep in this specific situation just as talking about it and me not trying to deny his feelings it seemed to have been enough for him. Remember that often what they’re asking for is more to be heard and the feelings are acknowledged. When we do that a whole lot of other possibilities seem to fall into place.

This is such a great question and is shared by many parents sometimes as monsters under the bed or in the cupboard or insects on the wall or noises from the roof. Whatever the situation when parents try using reason and logic to trying to assure their children that everything is fine. Well, it’s obvious that technology is not working so assuring your daughter that they are no monsters under the bed. Clearly doesn’t seem to be enough. Often we rely on reason and logic and thus doesn’t seem to unlock the situation. I had one of these kinds of situations where a boy kept saying that he didn’t want to go to sleep alone because the spiders would come through the windows and even though I knew there were no spiders like the ones he was saying he kept insisting that this is what was happening.

So I always ask myself the following question. Would I rather spend my time on trying to prove that these insects don’t exist or do I want to spend my time on making sure we can prevent this ongoing pattern from happening again? So instead of trying to disprove what my child is saying I have found that moving towards what they are saying is far more effective. I cover this technique in depth during my course on helping children deal with their emotions and that goes like this. So instead of denying that those things exist and move towards trying to find a solution to how we can work with those feelings ok. It seems like you are the person who can tell if those monsters may or may not be there as dead he can’t seem to see them at the moment. So I’m wondering what would need to be in place so that the monsters realize that they can come into this room and they can stay away leaving you safe. So what do you think need to be in place so they can come in here anymore? You are asking her what she needs such that the problem is solved. You’re sitting here trying to convince her that there is no problem.

I want to say that again as it really underpins this approach. You are asking her how to solve this problem instead of trying to convince her. There is no problem. Now you may already be saying to me but Robin or she will say is Dad you need to stay in the room with me. And yes I suspect that is what you would say. So you don’t try and argue that is not a possibility but I acknowledge and re-ask the question so I could stay here with you. That is one possibility and we are exploring other possibilities so that you can feel safe and go to sleep by yourself and dad can also be in his room while you are feeling safe. What else can we think of that might make this work?

These kinds of questions move us closer to finding solutions instead of trying to deny the problem in the first place. In the situation with the boy and the spiders, this is what I said. I wonder what we can do or put in place so that will prevent the spiders from coming into your room in the first place. He replied. We could use that mosquito netting over the window. Then they can come in. That sounds like a good idea. They would be far too large to climb through the small holes in the netting and that was that before I could even get to putting up the net in the next few days. It never came up again and he seems safe and comfortable in going to sleep in this specific situation just as talking about it and me not trying to deny his feelings it seemed to have been enough for him. Remember that often what they’re asking for is more to be heard and the feelings are acknowledged. When we do that a whole lot of other possibilities seem to fall into place.

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