Children at different ages are afraid for different reasons. According to developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, kids aged two to seven are afraid of things not based on reality. Kids endow animals, as well as inanimate objects with feelings, which is why at this age, kids are usually afraid of monsters and ghosts. This is one reason why debut author Maha Huneidi wrote, When Monsters Get Lonely. Huneidi shares her experience:
“My younger son had nightmares on and off when he was six. I didn’t make him go back to his bed, and my husband protested because he thought that our son would get used to sleeping in our bed, and for good reason, too. We had some friends whose kids didn’t outgrow that habit till they were nine or 10. I knew that that wouldn’t be the case with my son because kids get into this habit at a much younger age. I think that this problem arises from separation anxiety, and not from nightmares or fear of monsters.”
Parents do tend to dismiss such fears as unreal or unjustified, but for the child this fear is very real. “There’s no way a child at this age will believe you if you said there’s no such thing as monsters,” states Huneidi. “I was afraid of monsters and of the dark — where monsters lurked — as a child. My parents did come into my room and looked for them to prove to me they didn’t exist. Of course, they didn’t exist when the lights were on! As far as I was concerned monsters were afraid of light and of adults, which is why they scattered when adults came into the room and turned on the lights!”
Huneidi began writing When Monsters Get Lonely and later found out her granddaughter was afraid of monsters. “It was not about my granddaughter at all, but when I heard that she was afraid of monsters, it quickly became all about her. I wanted to empower her to take charge of her fear,” remarks Huneidi. “I sent my son a copy of When Monsters Get Lonely in a word file, with illustrations, just before I submitted it for publishing in April. Hanaa’s parents immediately began reading it to her ... Now, she sometimes tells her mother, ‘the monster touched my neck, but I made friends with him.'"