"When Monsters Get Lonely" is one of the picture books that I wrote for my granddaughter Hanaa (pronounce Hannah). The other two are still in the revision stage. This book is about empowering kids to take charge of their fears.
One night during a blackout, one of Hannah's worst childhood fears comes to life, when her monster pays her a visit in the dark of night. Hannah finds it difficult to control her dreadful fear, until Grams reveals how our thoughts magically create our lives.
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My granddaughter loves to watch monster movies, but some of the "badder" monsters used to scare her, and she occasionally had nightmares. That didn't stop her from watching monster movies though! She also loves monster stories.
Last year, my son and his family happened to be in Santa Fe during the annual Spring Fiestas. This is when they burn Zozobra, a fifty foot tall paper mache effigy of Old Man Gloom. This spectacle is accompanied by the loud sound effects of the old man eerily moaning and groaning.
Naturally, Hanaa's parents didn't take her to the fiesta. They took her to the movies instead. As luck would have it, they got out of the movies to the eerie sounds of Zozobra's moaning and groaning as it burned. That scared the daylights out of Hanaa, and the nightmares got worse.
So, how do you empower your kids to deal with monsters?
I recently watched an episode of "The Doctors" on the web: "How to Deal with Monsters in the Closet," and they had this really cool product "Go Away" spray! You can spray it under the bed, in the closet or wherever your kid thinks the monster is. It's a great idea! I'm no doctor or child psychologist myself, I'm just a mother and now a grandmother, and personally I would rather give my kid the self confidence to deal with the monster himself. I would definitely use the "Go Away" spray for extra measure though.
I'm not saying send the child back to bed and tell him that he's a big boy and shouldn't be afraid of monsters. I was afraid of monsters myself as a child, so I can empathize. Fear is a powerful emotion and when you're a child you can't tell the difference between what's real and what's imaginary.
Jean Piaget, the famous developmental psychologist theorized that kids, ages 2-7 years, endow animals as well as inanimate objects with feelings (Animism), and that they believe in magic and think that everything and everyone feels and thinks like they do (Egocentrism). I love that about kids, don't you? They live in their own little magical world! That's why a child will believe you if you say we can't go out because the car is too tired and must take a nap,
or when monsters get lonely they look for company.
When my son was six he used to wake up with nightmares and I didn't know how to deal with it then, but I knew how real his fear was, so I'd let him crash with us and then I'd wake him up at dawn and ask if he was comfortable enough to go back to his own bed. Thankfully, he soon grew out of this phase as kids usually do.
When Monsters Get Lonely
Being older -and just a tad wiser- I decided to write this little picture book, "When Monsters Get Lonely" to empower my granddaughter to take charge of her fear. Truth be told, when I began writing this book, it was not about my granddaughter at all, but when I heard that she was afraid of monsters, it became all about her. I wanted to empower her to take charge of her fear.
I sent my son a copy of When Monsters Get Lonely in a word file, with illustrations, just before I submitted it for publishing in April 2011. Hanaa's parents immediately began reading it to her... Now, she sometimes tells her mother, "the monster touched my neck, but I made friends with him."
Ask the right questions
It's up to us parents, grandparents, and caretakers to give our children the confidence they need to deal with life by being there for them, by asking the right questions and by attentively listening to their answers. I believe that that it’s always better to empower your children by pointing them in the right direction and trusting them to formulate their own solutions, with your guidance, rather than give them a readymade solution that they have had no part in creating.
I think that Hanaa has found the courage to deal with her monster on her own now, and she still enjoys monster movies and monster stories!