I grew up in a haunted house. And not the type of haunted house where the translucent person in old-timey garb floated around with a blank look in their eye ala Hollywood. Oh no, in this house, the feeling you got from venturing into the basement made your skin crawl and your hair stand on end. Things moved, lights turned on, and often there was a feeling of unease. Maybe, later on down the road, I’ll share more of my ghost stories with you, but this is a parenting blog and my point is that, while growing up, my “bumps in the night” were definitely more than “the house settling.”
When I was a little girl and afraid of the dark, my parents would ask me what I was afraid of. I would typically answer “ghosts” or “monsters” and sometimes even “I don’t know, but something.” To which they would respond “there’s no such thing.” But I knew there was such a thing. I could see them, I could feel them, they were real. Hearing my parents say that they didn’t exist didn’t make me feel more confident in the dark, it only made me lose confidence that they could protect me in the dark. After all, if they didn’t believe or couldn’t see the “things” in my room, how could they make sure they didn’t “get” me?
If a child believes they can see and feel a monster or ghost, what does it do to a child’s feelings when we tell them “there’s no such thing?” I’m not a child psychologist, but I remember how it felt to be told this. I can imagine that being told “there is no such thing” when you truly believe that something terrible exists, could cause you to feel helpless, belittled, and possibly make you start second guessing yourself or your guardians.
My child is currently in a huge “afraid of the dark phase” and some nights, I understand why a parent might want to tell their child that there is no such thing. But I believe that empowerment is so important. I have a few tricks up my sleeve:
- Give them confidence in you –
“Mommy, I’m afraid of the dark.”
“What do you think is in the dark that isn’t in the light.”
“I don’t know, something.”
“What am I?”
“Yes, and I know all about protecting our house from anything that might want to hurt us.”
Then we talk through the visualization that I’ve written out below.
- Give them tools –
For Zombies – We decided that Zombies hate music and flowers, so we bought him a flower for his room and he began to listen to some of his favorite tunes to go to sleep.
For Monsters – We made some monster spray. I filled a squirt bottle with lavender oil (for relaxation) and sage leaves (to help get rid of bad energy or anything that actually might be there) and gave it to him to spray around the room when he feels scared.
For Ghosts – We practice nicely asking them to leave (a practice that has worked for me on many occasions).
General Purpose – Grab some gemstones, totems, herbs, anything that might empower your child. My son often sleeps with Angelite (to bring the angels to keep him safe), flowers (to bring the fairies to keep him safe),Clear and Smokey Quartz, and Amethyst (both to keep bad things away). Sometimes he even sleeps with a bundle of sage on his nightstand. Just knowing that these things are there help him out.
- Talk it out –
Sometimes, there is a reason a child is afraid of the dark that might not have anything to do with the dark. They might have seen some frightening images at a friend’s house or a school, they might just need extra cuddles because they are dealing with some tough stuff at school, or maybe they heard that they are supposed to be afraid of the dark and are acting out accordingly. It’s always a good idea to check in with your kiddo and find out what their reasons for being frightened are. It’s never a bad idea to talk about what it means to be brave, that it’s all right to be afraid, and that you’ll always be there for them.
Visualization of Home Protection
Let’s be honest, sometimes as adults, even we are afraid of things that “go bump in the night.” On nights like that, I often use this visualization myself. No props are needed, unless you’d like them, and the whole family can participate. As always, make this yours, feel free to omit certain symbols and add your own!
We start by cuddling or holding hands. We close our eyes and I start to say to my child:
“Picture a golden, glowing circle all around our house and yard. Picture a beautiful gold star in that circle, forming a pentacle (omit if you don’t use this symbolism in your practice). Now picture a bright golden light coming up from the circle, it’s creating a gigantic bubble of protection around the house. It’s going up, up, and up, until it reaches the top and comes together.
Let’s picture the same thing happening underneath the house, the bubble is going through the earth and all around our basement, until it meets in the middle.
Now, let’s send our energy, strong protection energy into that wall, that bubble around the house. Think about only letting love in and keeping anything that would want to harm us out.”
And we focus, we squeeze each other tight or we squeeze our hands together.
“Take a minute to think about our wonderful protective bubble. Picture a monster trying to get in our house, but he can’t! He keeps bouncing off of the bubble! (I typically get giggles here) Look at him just bouncing off! Oh, here comes another one! He bounces too!”
From here on, we are typically rolling around laughing while we picture all kinds of ghouls and zombies and goblins bouncing off of our bubble. It works, every time.
Bright Blessings and Monster-less Nights to you,