Let’s Talk about “Monster Spray”

Some of you have heard of “Monster Spray”, you may even have used it with your little ones, whilst others are no doubt making a funny face thinking “WTF” is this? I’ve never used it and wouldn’t recommend it, let me explain.

So “Monster Spray” is usually just water put into a spray bottle which has been labelled “Monster Spray”. Although you can buy some fancy bottles online, most parents resort to the homemade version … some even add glitter. Seemed like a good idea at time I’m sure, then your child’s room has a persistent subtle shimmer vibe for month. 

It’s very common for little ones who are around 2 – 2.5 years to actually become afraid of things. It is a typical stage of development for children around this age to start developing fears. It’s actually a sign that their neurological system, which alerts them to danger, is developing, so it’s a good thing. The fears of two-year-olds are numerous and varied. They are a product of your child’s developing imagination and their emerging ability to predict. Fears may arise from an actual incident or by images on screens or in a book. Other children also pass their new fears to your child by sharing their experiences, stories and beliefs. 

How we deal with these moments when they occur can either feed the fear or we can recognise it and try to help them to work through it. 

Did you know that the only fear that we are born with is the fear of falling, all other fears develop from experiences and many are actually us modelling our parents fears, e.g. if a parent is afraid of spiders, there is a good chance they will pass on this fear to their child without evening realising it. Thanks Mom! 

I love nature but as a child I would see my mother do “the spider dance” upon seeing an unwanted eight-legged visitor. If she was feeling kind of brave an old biscuit tin would trap the spider until Dad came to extinguish the situation. I have learnt from this; in twenty-five years of working in childcare I try so hard not to pass this on to any of my “nanny” kiddies. When I’ve seen a fast eight-legged beast whilst in the company of children I try to hide the fear… ‘awe look there’s “incy whincy”, he’s our friend he catches flies and makes beautiful web homes, maybe he is looking for a place to make his new home.’ This is being said whilst my Garmin watch is notifying me that my heart rate has risen above normal and, I’m finding an excuse to leave the room with the child and I’m simultaneously texting security to tell them to come quick and to bring a cage, or a gun … both are fine. 

Why do parents resort to “Monster Spray”?

Around two years when a little one is tired and sensitive and dealing with these new fears, well-meaning parents bring out the “Monster Spray” and liberally spray the room to get rid of the monsters, or to keep the monsters away, but they didn’t stop to think that this is actually reinforcing that there are such things as monsters …

This has been my approach when I have been faced with a two-year-old’s sudden monster fear. 

It goes something like this:- 

Child: ‘I don’t want to sleep, I’m afraid of the monsters.’

Me: ‘Monsters, what? There are no monsters, they aren’t real. What made you think of monsters?’

If I know the root of this I will try to address it:

‘Remember earlier you saw that cartoon / story / Halloween decoration, that was just pretend, or that story your friend told you was a made-up story.’ 

If I have something that I can show them like a drawing or Halloween decoration I will spend some time showing them there’s nothing to fear and remind them that they are in a safe place, loved and cared for. 

I don’t want to give the topic too much energy, but I also don’t want to dismiss it. I will recognise that they are scared and try to help. Sometimes I will say:-

‘Would you like me to show you there’s nothing in your room, lets look in the wardrobe together, behind the wardrobe … under the bed … Oh found a smelly sock but nothing else!’ 

Try to help their fear to dissolve without saying ‘you’re just being silly’, because to them in that moment, their fear is genuine! If they are afraid of shadows, show them how shadows are made, or ask them to show you which shadows are scary to them and then turn off the light and explain what it is, ‘Darling it’s the shadow of your teddy on top of the shelf’, make fun shadows with a torch in the downstairs bathroom with a torch during the day, the more they understand, the less fear they will have. 

Please don’t get me wrong, I know that in today’s world there are many things to be fearful of, but monsters are not one of them. Some of you may have used something like this and had a good experience, others may have been spraying a bedroom for months. This is my opinion based on my experiences. Each to their own, just sharing as some folk may not have thought it through.

I hope that you found this useful, please share with your friends.

Sweet dreams,