Clever idea! It caught my attention as I remembered my kids struggling with childhood fears of monsters under their bed, ghosts in the closet and witches outside their windows. Dentist appointments were dreaded almost as much as the school bully. And super heroes were in short supply. Like most moms, I sought ways to help my kids to deal with the challenges life brought their way.
When you are little, the world is filled with so many scary things. And kids need their parents to help "armor" them against these fears. In our home, story books came to the rescue. Books like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak provided my children with a humorous way to take a closer look at what monsters really were and enlightened them to the fact that scary looking things didn't have to be scary at all. We read the story over and over again along with another one of their favorites, Rumpelstiltskin. In our version, the characters were dark and scary looking but our youngest grew to love the story, frequently reciting the words of Rumpelstiltskin, "The devil made me do it!" By reading a number of different story books to our children, we took things that initially appeared scary and made them understandable by giving each child a chance to listen, ask questions and clarify their understanding. Yes, Mr. Stiltskin appeared ominous at first glance, but after reading the story again and again, he was soon recognized as just an unhappy little man who jumped around a lot making threatening demands. Poof! Not so scary after all.
When you read a story to your child you are providing guidance and support. But you are doing something even more important. You are giving them the tools to better understand and address challenges, fears and concerns. Story lines can easily promote conversation and allow parents to provide strategies kids need to better deal with their daily and nightly challenges. The unknown becomes less fear inducing when demystified, clarified or debunked by mom and dad. What better way to do this then by reading a story together?
Read daily to your kids. Help your children to identify the super hero in each of them. Give them the tools to fight nighttime monsters and daytime challenges. Show them the joy in life through fairy tales, silly stories and colorful narratives. And a sprinkle of Monster Repellent or Super Hero Spray couldn't hurt either!