Imaginary monsters can lurk behind curtains, in closets or under beds. Wherever they are, these creatures can cause many sleepless nights for young children and their parents. “Monster fear is real. This is a very common problem among children between the ages of three and six,” said Dr. Richard Sherman, an experienced clinical psychologist and long-time board member of the Los Angeles County Psychological Association. Kids often have difficulty distinguishing between their imagination and reality. Their fears can transform the ghosts and ghouls of their mind into creatures as real as their playmates. Parents need to take these concerns seriously rather than simply telling their children that monsters do not exist. Parents can help children spook their nocturnal nemeses by: Giving them a flashlight to illuminate a monster’s favorite hiding spot. Playing games in dim light to make them feel more comfortable in the dark. Having them pretend to be a monster that scares adults. Monitoring television shows and movies to prevent exposure to mature content. “The key to helping children defeat imaginary monsters is to make them feel empowered, while disposing of their nightmare creations,” Sherman explained. Sherman also recommends The Magical Monster Trap (www.monstertrap.com), which allows children to take an active role in capturing their nighttime foes. The trap works by imprisoning monsters in a gold chest, where they undergo a transformation into a colored liquid that children can pour down the drain. “It’s important to provide physical evidence that the monster is truly gone,” Sherman concluded. “Two of my youngest children were scared of the dark,” said Crystal West, a mother in Green River, Wyoming. “After using The Magical Monster Trap, my youngest can’t wait to pop out of bed in the morning and see what color the monster is.” Parents who acknowledge and work to solve their children’s fear of monsters can win their trust. By taking a proactive approach to dealing with the fictional phantoms of the night, moms and dads can regain control over bedtime and help ensure a peaceful night’s rest for the entire family.