Give Now

A Moment of Science

Monster Madness

Monster madness starts at the age of 3, when a child's imagination starts to run wild.

Scene from a shadow puppet play featuring scary flying creatures.

Photo: Eric Bartholomew (Flickr)

The imagination transforms paper cutouts into shadowy monsters.

For the first couple years of their lives, children are pretty fearless. But suddenly around three years of age, they become afraid of the dark and develop irrational fears of monsters and ghosts.

Imagined Threat

If you’re a parent, your child has probably informed you of the monsters living under her bed or the dinosaurs in her closet. These invisible threats have an equally invisible source: the imagination, which really starts to gain steam in the third year of development.

A budding imagination opens all sorts of wonderful worlds to a child. But combined with immature reasoning skills, it can also exacerbate her fears. Suddenly, a shadow on the wall becomes a hungry monster.

Ghostbusters

What can a parent do? Since fear is a natural response to something unknown or threatening, try making the source of fear less frightening. If your three-year-old refuses to sleep in her own bed because of the local monster population, take her seriously and fight fear with facts. Look under the bed with a flashlight, showing her that there are no monsters.

The more familiar your child is with the things that scare her, the less frightening they’ll become. Your child will sleep better at night, and as a result you will too!

  • @MonsterDefense

    Check out monster-defense.com. We have a wonderful-smelling spray available now & a fun, illustrated children’s story coming out in Dec 2013-Jan 2014 that tells the story of a little boy with a monster in his room, and how he overcame his fear of monsters. In researching online prior to writing the book, we read many articles from child & adolescent psychologists and parents about recommended methods for dealing with fear of monsters, and interpreted this into a fun, rhyming story which gives parents direction on how to help & gives kids the tools necessary to overcome their fear.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science