How to rid a house of Monsters

My son doesn’t like monsters. Apparently they come out of his closet, play with/break/lose his toys, mess up his room and sleep in his bed. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about this monster activity, but it’s starting to get ridiculous.

He refuses to sleep in his bed, instead he sleeps on the floor on top of his animal pillows, he refuses to sleep alone, so a couple of times a night (when he realizes he’s alone) someone has to put him back to bed. We had a bit of luck by getting him a new bed that he was excited about, got 3 days of bed sleeping out of it before he demanded to be back on the floor.

In terms of Monster Management, we’ve held a strict policy of “there are no monsters” while being flexible about his monster related needs.

Good people of the Straight Dope, what would you recommend?

I have no advice since I’m not a parent, but how old is your son. His age will affect the advice people give. Like if he’s 23, I would suggest therapy. :wink:

Get yourself a felt magician’s/wizard’s hat, make up a phoney ili rite of exorcism, & get rid of his fears.

As I am a happy non-parent, take this with as many grains of salt as you deem appropriate.

I often read John Rosemond’s column. His advice would probably focus on stopping your being “flexible about his monster related needs”. Your son has learned manipulative, attention seeking behavior and sees that when he becomes disruptive then he gets attention he likes. Stop giving him this attention.

Refusing to sleep alone can be dealt with by allowing him to wake you up no more than once a night. If he persists in this behavior then tell him that he will spend the entire next day (other than meals, daycare or other significant events) in his bedroom which you have completely stripped of toys or entertainment. Repeat as needed.

Tell him that there are no monsters. If his toys are played with and not put away, broken or lost then it’s because he can’t take care of them. Remove them from his bedroom until such time as he will take care of them. The first two or three times you remove them should be for no longer than a weekend. Then tell him the next time will be for a week or longer and stick with it!

I wouldn’t get too worked up over his sleeping on the floor. Rosemond often appeals to an outside authority figure such as “the Doctor” when modifying this kind of behavior. “Jr., the Doctor says you need to sleep in your own bed and not on the floor” for example. My inclination would be to let this slide while carefully refusing to allow yourself to show any irritation with it. He’s doing it to get a reaction out of you. Don’t give it to him.

There’s actually a special Monsters-Be-Gone potion that you can make (with or without your son’s help). It works really well and has gotten rid of monsters at my house for many years. It also acts as a preventative to keep them away from places like closets, under beds, in basements and dark hallways.

Here’s my secret recipe. It’s important that you follow the directions very carefully or else you’ll have monsters coming into the house, instead of leaving.

First, take a small, clean spray bottle. You can get one of these at obscure places like the Dollar Tree. They’re worth the investment of $1.

Then, to that bottle, you add half a cup of water. Not 1/4 a cup, or 3/4 a cup, but half a cup.

Now, here’s the tricky part. To that half cup of water in your $1 spray bottle, you add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. (Now, on behalf of full disclosure, I have used imitation vanilla extract, and that works, but you might need to use more of it if the monsters have green scales. For some reason, the imitation vanilla extract has difficulty with green scales.)

Once you’ve added the vanilla extract, shake up the mixture, then spray liberally in places where monsters have been spotted, or are suspected to be located. For extra protection, spray in bedrooms as a protective measure in the rooms of children five and younger.

You can also use lemon juice in place of the vanilla extract.

(Yes, scents can really alleviate stress. This is just one example. We used vanilla extract at our house because it is often associated with “good”, like cookies or cakes.)

Give him something to really cry about: Dress up in a really scary monster costume, maybe a mummy or Janet Reno depending on his slant. Hide in his closet and then come out screaming like a banshee once he starts to go to sleep.

Now one of three things will happen: 1) After he realizes it’s just you, he may see how ridiculous it is, and problem will be solved. 2) You will find out, based on his true reaction this time, and it was previously all just a ploy for attention. Or 3) the incident will leave the child emotionally scarred and the shrink can solve his monster problem along with his new issues. :wink:

  • Disclaimer: I have been told that I should never be allowed to be a parent nor babysitter. Pshaw! Skinner boxes are for children.

Seriously, dude, I’m assuming this is a little kid. It’s also a very normal stage for little kids to go through–one they typically outgrow. It is very likely that this has nothing to do with manipulating his parents, or leaving his toys where ever.

If anything, I would advise against using “The Doctor” threat. Good way to instill a healthy fear of visiting the doctor in the future. (Ever heard of white coat syndrome? Also very typical in little kids, even those who don’t get The Doctor threats. I’m thinking The Doctor use wouldn’t help this.)

Let the kid sleep on the floor if he wants or it makes him feel safer. Where’s the harm? Hell, let him pitch a tent in his room if sleeping in that make his feel safer. (Yes, Hallboy had a tent in his room for several months until the novelity wore off. A twin sized mattress will fit into a two person tent very nicely.) As parents, it’s one of our responsibilities to make our kids feel safe and that they can turn to their parents in time of need.

–Phall0106, actual parent of three kids (all now healthy, responsible adults) and one, soon to be two, grandchildren.

Janet Reno?


And why not Billy Carter, while you’re at it?:rolleyes:

What a load of tosh. I accept that some children’s behaviours are manipulative but this is just nonsense. I remember being at that age and being shitscared of unnamed fears lurking in cupboards and under beds. It had absolutely nothing to do with attention seeking: I just used to lie in bed too scared to move or make any noise (let alone get up and get attention) until I fell asleep.

My five year old’s monster fears (currently) correlate well to how much he sees his older brother playing minecraft. Not to how much he wants attention.

I agree completely with Alpha Twit.
Father of 5 well balanced adults and two grandchildren.

Would putting a chair against the closet door keep the monsters in? I would try to find some middle ground. He can sleep anywhere he wants, but if he wakes you up, he’s back in his bed. Maybe if he feels like he has a little control over his monster issue, then he’ll sleep.

Here is Nigel Latta talking about it. My favorite expert on child rearing. The audio is 17 minutes long.

He has several thoughts that are worth a listen.

I was a child who was terrified of everything once it got dark outside. My parents didn’t do anything other than laugh at me over it, and my brothers would tease me about it.

I grew up scared of the dark and when I was old enough to find out about and purchase one, I got me a plug-in night light that comes on when it gets dark and goes off in daylight.

I wish I’d had one when I was a kid. One at each end of the room would be optimal to avoid shadows in the corners (where the monsters like to lurk). A bed with a divan base is also an idea, cos the monsters can’t get underneath it. Any form of closet or wardrobe is a bad idea in a kid’s room, as these are places where monsters like to lurk.

Glow-in-the-dark things aren’t a good idea, as they can look like evil eyes glaring at you.

Does your son have any cuddly friends in his bed? Teddy bear, cat, dog, that sort of thing?

You’d be surprised to learn that cuddly toys find monsters very tasty. The Taller Girl’s Timber Wolf (when she was about 3) used to demonstrate this very effectively during our bedtime chats, complete with crunching and nomming sounds.

This also provides you a handy excuse if said Cuddly Friends ever go walkabout - they’re off finding monsters to eat, since there aren’t sufficient supplies at your place. They’ll be back when their tummies are nice and full.

Monsters are delicious. I recommend hunting them into extinction.

I’m having a hard time finding a polite way to express how ridiculous I find this. This kid is frightened. You can either help him learn to deal with his fears, or punish him for having them. I’m gonna go with the first one being the healthier strategy.

Cheesesteak, assuming this is a fairly little kid, repeating ‘There are no monsters’ won’t be enough to fix this. His sense of reality just isn’t developed enough for that to work. To him, the monsters are real. In a couple of years, they won’t be, but for now, you need to deal with his reality, not just brush it away and expect him to do the same. He’s not able yet.

I think the anti-monster potion is good. So are the monster-eating stuffed toys. I’d also go with signs saying ‘NO MONSTERS ALLOWED’, and possibly a sword for monster-whacking.

don’t make the boy a bed that looks like a clown.

if you use a night light, have it and objects positioned that it doesn’t cast big shadows.

there have been audio memo devices (less expensive, does 30 seconds or 1 minute). one of these with you and him saying something good might help. he hits a single button and it plays the recording.

What do you guys think about giving him a video camera and $1000 reward for getting proof of a monster? I don’t know about child psychology, could this make him look forward to finding a monster?

Many years ago, my daughters (when they were five-ish and eight-ish) and I watched a documentary on black widow spiders. I thought it was fascinating, but they were traumatized, and began to obsess about spiders in their room.

I told them that the house had a “black widow detector” more or less to calm them down. I didn’t think about it at the time as the ploy was similar to telling them that Santa wouldn’t come if they didn’t behave and get to bed on Christmas Eve, but it worked. It was just a little white lie invented to preserve peace at bedtime. After they got over their fears, I forgot about it.

Years later, they (now adults in their late 20s) both told me that they really, really believed that this was true, and they are still to this day chagrined that I had fooled them with such a transparent lie.

I think I also used the “black widow spray” mentioned up-thread as well.

Put his mattress directly on the floor. He’s not afraid of the bed, he’s afraid of what’s under the bed.
Open closet doors wide and dimly light any dark spots in the room.
Think like a kid. He’s looking around the room at night, focusing on a dark non-visable area and letting his imagination run wild. Eliminate these areas.