Dear Savvy Auntie,

My cousin has a five year old boy who recently saw a scary movie and now believes that a 'boogeyman' is hiding in his bedroom closet at night. He also has fears of the dark, large dogs and large, loud men. To help,  I gave him a powerful flashlight to keep with him and I bought him a nightlight for when he sleeps, but it just makes more shadows in the room.

He does well in kindergarten but he is shy and timid and still clings to his female teacher at times. Any advice?

Savvy Cousin

Dear Savvy Cousin,

The idea of a night light and flashlight are excellent and may be very useful in the future. I suggest you supplement the idea with a power old remote (batteries removed), a toy truck/excavator/tractor, special stuffed animal, or anything that represents force to him.

I suggest bedtime be elongated (started earlier) and closets, drawers, and under the bed be searched and reported empty with some drama. A special 'power' drink (water with a splash of cranberry juice) could be introduced as a 'safety agent.'

Keep in mind that many five year olds are still clingy to their teachers, timid and shy. If this continues for another two months, I suggest a consultation with a child psychologist.

It is often thought that children with fears of aggression and harm are projecting their own wishes pushed by unexpressed anger. Whether this is the case or not, aggressive activities (constructive) can be introduced... like hammering nails into a piece of wood, tearing up newspapers and stuffing the pieces into an old white pillowcase and making a punching pillow, and building with LEGO or blocks and knocking it down before putting the pieces away,
are all great activities.

On another note, have you looked at the book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak? This works for many kids, but has to be thoughtfully evaluated.

I hope this is helpful.
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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