Phobias Types Coping With Teraphobia or the Fear of Monsters By Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 10, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Blend Images - JGI/Jamie Grill/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Young Children Triggers Treatment in Children Teens and Adults Treatment for Adults / Teens Teraphobia (fear of monsters) is extremely common in pre-school-age children. It generally lessens during the early elementary years and is highly uncommon by the time a child reaches middle school. In teens and adults, the fear of monsters is a rare but potentially life-limiting phobia. Young Children Fears are a normal, healthy part of childhood development. They help children learn to make sense of the world around them and develop coping skills to last a lifetime. For this reason, phobias are generally not diagnosed in kids under the age of 18 unless they last for more than six months and cause clinically significant distress or impairment. Triggers In children, the fear of monsters often takes a nonspecific form. Rather than fearing Frankenstein, Dracula, or Godzilla, the child is afraid that "a monster" lives under their bed or in their closet. Nonetheless, asking the child to draw a picture of the monster may provide clues to an environmental trigger. Some drawings could resemble a TV cartoon character, a kidnapper who appeared on the evening news or even a neighbor whom the kids in the neighborhood refer to as "creepy." In these cases, limiting the child's exposure may help lessen the fear. Treatment in Children There are a number of things that parents can do to help lessen their children's fear of monsters. Some ideas include: "Monster repellant:" Some parents use "monster spray" to help their kids battle this fear. Consider using a spray bottle—empty, partially filled with colored water, or an aromatherapy spray—in a nightly ritual. Spray the closet, under the bed, and anywhere else that your child thinks the monster might be hiding. Be sure not to use anything that might be harmful to the child or damage to fabrics or paint.Comforting routines: Encourage soothing bedtime routines to calm the child's nerves. A warm bath, a glass of water, and a bedtime story promote relaxation and a soothing sleeping environment. If the child is afraid of the dark, consider providing a nightlight. Sleeping with a family pet might also provide a feeling of protection.Reward "brave" behavior: Some kids thrive on the attention their fears draw, so refocus your attention. Provide a brief "monster check" (and spray ritual, if desired) and then leave the room. Use stickers or other markers to track the nights that the child stays in bed all night without calling you into her room. When a week's worth of stickers has been collected, allow the child to trade them in for a favorite treat, such as a trip to the park or a batch of cookies.Respect and reassurance: Never laugh at the child's fear, use fear as a threat to deter bad behavior, or belittle them for having the fear. Show respect and sensitivity for their feelings while reassuring them that everything will be fine. Teens and Adults In older kids and adults, the fear of monsters usually takes a more specific form. Horror movies are frequently responsible for many short-lived fears, especially if watched right before going to bed. These fears generally persist for only a few nights and are often eased by sleeping with a light on and pursuing mild distractions, such as watching light, comedic television. If the fear lasts for more than a few nights, it may be an early sign of a true phobia. A more persistent monster phobia may be rooted in religious or cultural fears. The fear may be generalized or it may be of a specific type of creature such as vampires, zombies, or ghosts. The fear of witchcraft is sometimes related to the fear of monsters. These phobias are often based on a blend of superstitions, urban legends, and religious teachings. For many people, knowledge is power. Studying ancient and modern myths about the feared monsters, particularly the science behind the legends, is often enough to curb milder fears. For more intense phobias, professional assistance may be required. An untreated monster phobia could worsen over time. Social isolation is a possibility, particularly for teens, whose friends may see the fear as babyish or ridiculous. Many teens thrive on legend trips, in which they go out in a group to face down nearby urban legends and horror movie marathons are a staple of teen nightlife. Kids who are afraid to participate are at risk of being mocked and shunned. Treatment for Adults and Teens Fortunately, like all phobias, monster phobia responds well to a variety of treatments. Because they are often based on other fears, it is important to decide on your primary goals of therapy. Do you believe that you may be harmed by a monster? Are you concerned about evil entities? Do you simply want to be able to enjoy scary movies and Halloween events with your friends? Are you concerned that your child might pick up your fears? The answers to these and other questions will help direct your choice of treatment. For example, if your fear of monsters is rooted in your religious or spiritual beliefs, your therapist might suggest spiritual counseling with your religious leader instead of, or in addition to, traditional therapeutic techniques. 15 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Taming the monsters: Helping kids deal with their fears. Paediatr Child Health. 2001;6(3):165-8. doi:10.1093/pch/6.3.165 Hendrikson E. Kid fears in adults: the dark and other phobias. Scientific American. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Anxiety, fears, and phobias. Boston Children's Hospital. Phobias symptoms & causes. Krisch JA. Fatherly. How monsters under the bed became a common childhood fear. Parenting. Ask Dr. Sears: mashing monster fears. Seattle Children's Hospital. Nighttime fears. Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Bedtime fears: helping overcome them. Leahy M. My 3-year-old says everything is 'scary' — including his chores. Is he manipulating me? The Washington Post. American Academy of Pediatrics. Understanding childhood fears and anxieties. Marotta LL. Ask the experts: kids and scary movies. Metro Family Magazine. Cox L. Extreme child phobias: more than fear, sometimes dangerous, even deadly. ABC News. De oliveira-souza R. Phobia of the supernatural: a distinct but poorly recognized specific phobia with an adverse impact on daily living. Front Psychiatry. 2018;9:590. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00590 Carpenter JK, Andrews LA, Witcraft SM, Powers MB, Smits JAJ, Hofmann SG. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Depress Anxiety. 2018;35(6):502-514. doi:10.1002/da.22728 Burstein M, Georgiades K, He JP, et al. Specific phobia among U.S. adolescents: phenomenology and typology. Depress Anxiety. 2012;29(12):1072-82. doi:10.1002/da.22008 Additional Reading Landau E. CNN. Ghosts, monsters, dragons: What to tell kids. Malawista KL. HuffPost. Magical Thinking: Fears of the Dark and What Lurks Under the Bed. By Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics. 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