Helping children turn mountains into molehills
A friend of mine recently put out a plea for help. Her 3 year old son was going through a monster phase. Bedtimes had become a nightmare and he was becoming so worked up he was inconsolable. She had no idea what to do.
She received several great suggestions. Monster repellent spray bottles, nightlights, and a monster website with some good ideas among others. My suggestion was a little different, and came from an NLP perspective, with the knowledge I have about how the mind works.
Children have incredible imaginations. The reason he was scared of monsters was that he had created an incredibly vivid and scary picture of what monsters were in his imagination. This meant the first thing my friend needed to do was to get into his mind and figure out what he was seeing and hearing in his head that was creating this fear.
I advised her to ask him some questions to get inside his world, and to acknowledge the answers: “What do they look like?” “How big are they?” “What colour are they?” “Do they make any noises?” “Woah! They do sound really scary!”
Once she’d got into his world and found out about his particular monsters, it was time to take him on a journey. “Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if you could get a magical shrinking machine and shrink them down to make them really small. Do you think they’d still be scary then?” “What if they had wobbly jelly legs and every time they tried to take a step they fell over?” “What if when they opened their mouths to roar, bubbles came out of their mouths instead? Would they be scary then?”
In order to answer these questions, her 3 year old had to change the monsters in his mind. And by making one adjustment at a time, it was simple for him to do and she could test each change to make sure it was diminishing his fear. She could also use her knowledge of her son to help him make changes she knew to be significant to him, and in doing so, help ensure that his fear of monsters became a thing of the past.