During circle time at Friday’s Play Shoppe, we read Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly, much to the children’s delight. It’s a fun book that, as the pages turn, we watch the monster appear. When the intensity and suspense is highest, however, we realize the control is really with us.
“We’re not afraid of you, Big Green Monster, we can make you go away” and as we turn the remaining pages and watch him disappear, we’re left with the power to say – and believe –
” AND DON’T COME BACK UNTIL I TELL YOU!”
Ironically earlier that morning my own big green monster was a scary MRI machine whose “mouth” was not as big as I wanted it to be. But even as the Big Green Monster story goes, I too realized I was the one in control, so I focused on that power and met the MRI monster with confidence.
As parents and children, we all deal with fears, big and small.
Getting a haircut on Saturday, I watched a 2-year-old suffering through one near me. His eyes were filled with fright as the sheet was fastened around his neck, his hair squirted down with water and as the scissors began to snip, he couldn’t control it any longer and the tears came.
But his mom was there to support, distract and help him to gain control – which he did. I saw his face again as he was handed a sucker at the end. His look was deliriously happy. I like to believe it was not only about the treat he was given but also his own recognition of his accomplishment toward conquering his “monster”.
As adults we often fail to appreciate the types of fears our children have because they seem so childish. Well…appropriately so. Fear of the dark, monsters in the closet, flushing toilets, (especially those automatic ones), shots, barking dogs, scary masks, loud noises – the list goes on.
Rather than dismissing these feelings as silly, take some time to give your child some control. Offer a night light or flashlight, stories that explain or present opportunities to relate, your “own book” you make especially for her about this situation ( see Parent Pulse June 28th, 2010 post), empathy, and sometimes, just a little more time.
I know a dad who after watching a movie or reading a story that contains a part that is scary to his young son, acts it out together, as frequently as his son asks, until the process of doing that puts the control of the fear in its rightful place – within his son. He can pretend it, exaggerate it, change it, be silly with it, understand it, dissolve it.
After our story at Circle time on Friday, we sang the song“If you’re a monster and you know it – grunt and groan, stomp your feet, make a face, wave your arms, show your claws, gnash your teeth.”
The children relished the idea of being monsters themselves – being silly, being scary, being ferocious with menacing faces and grunts and groans. What better way to diminish the importance of the monster than by imitating him in such a fun way.
As I endured my MRI experience, listening to the strange and unusual sounds occurring all around me, thinking of things to distract and amuse myself, I repeated a children’s poem I had found recently.
If in the dark you’re frightened,
here’s all you have to do…
Say “Igga Bigga Dinka Danka Doo“.
These words give you protection
from monsters and witches too.
Say “Igga Bigga Dinka Danka Doo”.
So if at night a monster whispers
“I’ll get you!”
Yell, “Igga Bigga Dinka Danka Doo!”
So I did.
“Igga Bigga Dinka Danka Doo!”
I think it worked!