Preschooler Theology: “Why Do Monsters Scare Me?”

So, a while back, my oldest daughter started talking about being afraid of monsters. I don’t remember exactly where she picked up on this, but it caught me off guard.

See, it’s a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, monsters like what you see in Monsters Inc. don’t exist. But, demons are very real (whether we like to think about it or not), and it’s possible that our kids who are saying they see monsters in their closet are possibly seeing some sort of demonic manifestation.

So how do you start explaining that to your kids?

Here’s how my dialogue with Abigail typically goes:

Abigail: Why do monsters scare me?

Me: Monsters try to scare you because they don’t want you to trust Jesus. Monsters don’t have to scare you because Jesus is the King of the whole universe and everything has to do what He says. Jesus is bigger and stronger than any monster, so when He tells them to do something, they have to do it.

Abigail: So can we tell them to go away?

Me: Yep.

Abigail: Can you do it?

Me: Sure.

That in a nutshell is my conversation with Abigail every couple of nights.

I really hope I’m not traumatizing her with this.

Now what about you? If you’re a parent, how are you handling this subject with your kids? If you were brought up by Christian parents, how did they explain this to you?

6 thoughts on “Preschooler Theology: “Why Do Monsters Scare Me?””

  1. Are they necessarily demons???  Can´t they just be good souls that are in some way connected to this child?  I used to see my husband in my room often when I was a child, and used to think this image was of some character in a show I used to watch as a kid.  30 years later, when i met him, i realized it was him.  He´s a few years younger than me, so he wasn´t born yet when he used to visit me.  So, no, kids don´t need to think they are demons, they are probably other spirits  that love your children and are connected to them at a soul level.

  2. We watched a PBS show on TV about animals in Africa.
    Karli was on the couch, and the two of us dipped potato chips in dip, and eyeballed the lion in the grass on TV. A herd of gazelle was in the distance, and the lion was sneaking closer and closer.

    I leaned over to Karli and said:
    “Gazelles run really fast, That lion will be tuckered out chasing them.
    Watch what he does here. They ALWAYS go after the baby animal, because the baby animal can’t run as fast. WATCH!”

    As the lion pounced, the herd took off in all directions. His speed picked up, and his aim was direct. But only toward a sole target….a baby antelope. The baby was scooting as fast as it could. The parent had a choice; scoot away and be saved, OR turn your horns on this attacker, and protect your baby. The adult gazelle was no match for the lion. While running slower to allow the baby to draw near, the lion moved perilously close.

    The adult gazelle made only one effort, by quickly shooting its legs out in the air, aimed to kick the lion into disarray, and allow all to scoot. The adult missed and in a fleeting second, the baby was in the jaws of the lion. The adult glimpsed, pondered, and quickly evacuated the territory, to rejoin the herd.

    “You were right Dad” said Karli. “That mean lion took the baby and killed it!”

    “Oh honey, you never have to worry about that. The lion is not mean; it is just hungry and they eat other animals for food. When we want to eat, we dip these chips. But sometimes, we have a hamburger, and that is from an animal, the same as a lion would eat.”

    Karli pondered all that.

    I added: “But hamburger does not come from a baby animal. They make it from big animals to get the most meat they can. You saw it at the zoo when we watched the lion be fed a hunk of huge meat, remember?”


    I dipped another chip and munched it, then began anew.
    “This reminds me of the Bible”, I told her.
    Karli’s ears perked up; she knew a story was coming her way.

    The Bible tells us “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. ” [I Peter 5:8]

    “But the devil doesn’t eat the people like that lion ate the animal”, I continued.
    All he wants to devour is your mind. And, he doesn’t even want to devour or eat it, he wants to trick you, by making your mind think all thoughts that God teaches us NOT to think.
    That’s why the Bible says ‘be alert and of sober mind’ BEFORE telling us about the fake roar of satan.

    If that adult gazelle was more ALERT, the baby gazelle might have been protected better.
    But animals don’t think like people.

    “Listen to what God says in the Bible, and when satan roars around, any time in your life, you have no fear at all, because God took all his teeth out when He died on the Cross.
    Satan can roar, but now, he can’t bite.
    That’s our Jesus! He protected you even before you were born, by clamping satan’s mouth.

    But listen to God, or YOU take the clamp off satan yourself.
    Someday, you might do that by accident, or on purpose. We ALL do.
    So here is what I want you to do Karli. Listen to God, and turn to satan and say “YOU ARE CLAMPED BY GOD. GO AWAY NOW. He will, because God will make him go.”

    The potato chips were as gone as satan by that time.

    Slip “God Stories” in as often as you can. Be alert!

  3. Monsters are not alone. Nor is Christ. Nor the culture.
    Tooth Fairy?
    Santa Claus?
    Easter Bunny?
    Punxatawney Phil…..predictor of our weather!
    The list goes on.

    I have read much in recent times on the brain of a teenager, and how different it is from an adult brain. Yet, we as adults insist on reacting to teens with our adult brain (this is a tad wise, or we would be reverting to our own teen brain to teach them).

    But THAT is what Christ did. He went from God, to human, to communicate with us on our level. I submit that the teenage brain is vastly more developed than the small child brain in topic here with Monsters. Indeed, the children have yet to reach the age of reasoning, thus society can convince them of a Santa, a Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy…..the latter broke my wallet to keep him alive.

    Imagine a world of nostrils. That is what our children see every day as they look up.
    We look up to God to make it through each day; the child sees a nostril.

    Communicating with God, or children, makes it incumbant to get on your knees.
    In the former case, it is a sign of respect and awe.
    In the latter case, it brings the adult down to the level of a child to communicate with them on THEIR level. I can’t stress this enough!

    This part of the above conversation captured my mind:

    Abigail: So can we tell them to go away?

    Me: Yep.

    Abigail: Can you do it?

    Me: Sure.

    In a court of law, filled with adults, an “OBJECTION, your Honor”, would come swiftly here.

    The question has been asked and answered already.
    “Can WE tell them to go away”, is followed by the redundant “Can YOU tell them to go away”

    The child has already received the answer, yet does not comprehend it. She comprehends that DADDY can do it, and that is enough!
    [Sidebar: This becomes true for adults later, when we learn that Our father can do it all !]

    We give children picture books, for they have not mastered the alphabet. Later, we teach words, sentences, and more. But in early years, they walk around (or crawl, closer to the floor than the ceiling, and see a world of nostrils.

    I built a snowman with my daughter one year, when she was an Abigail, or thereabouts.
    The lemon-sized snowball has little mass, and it takes a long time to become orange-sized, then grapefruit-sized, then basketball-sized, and more. But in a critical moment, I turn it but three times and can no longer move it. The mass is so great that weight makes it grow as insideously as summer weeds.

    The process was repeated to make the middle of a snowman. But the “good snow” up close to the base has all been used to make the base. I moved further out to find snow for the middle. But it was so large that if I tried to roll it, the middle would become larger than the base. I had no choice; I rolled it and it grew. I huffed and puffed moving that snow ball of immensity, and soon realized IT would be the base, and the first ball would be lifted upon it to make a middle (I also was determined to give this snowman a very small head too.) 🙁

    It drained my energy to lift the original base, onto the new base. I could NOT lift it, even with Karli’s little fingers helping me within her mittens. So I rolled it slowly up the side, to NOT mash the base and have to start over. I was exhausted and breathing furiously, like a pregnant woman doing her “huff-huff” they teach you in Lamaze class.

    And those “huff-huff’s” looked like tiny marshmallows being poured from a huge bag.

    “Did you see that Karli? Did you just see my breath?”

    “Yeah DAD!”

    You do it too”. And she did.
    We looked like two cooling towers for a nuclear reactor, having great fun for her, and catching my breath for me.

    “Do you realize what just happened Karli? The “invisible” became “visible”.
    Do you ever see your breath in summertime? Or Fall? Or Spring?”

    “No Dad”

    “Then how can we see it NOW? The invisible breath is always there all the time, but we can only see it during the coldest times. What else can’t we see, but know that it is there?”

    Karli pondered, then came up with TWO.
    “Electricity…..and God”

    I told her “we KNOW electricity is around when we turn on the light. But God, like our breath, often shows up in the coldest times of our lives. When you find yourself in a cold time, alone, and don’t know what to do, I want you to breathe in-and-out, just like we did now, and ask God to be with you closely. He can handle any cold problem you have, and any warm one too.
    I could not push the snowman middle without your help. And someday, you will need help and I am not around. Ask God”

    Speak Monster Theology in the language of a child.
    Prepare them ahead of time….particularly by emphasizing TRUTH, everyday on other topics.
    The enemy cannot confuse a child brined in truth, … easily as a child on its own.

    And look for moments every day, like the snowman moment above, to preach Monster Theology and answer the question before it is asked.

  4. Josh & Becky, that’s hugely helpful feedback. One of the things I’ve been trying to remind her of in particular is Hebrews 13:6 – “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”

    She struggles to remember this (like so many of us do), but I’m hopeful that reminding her of the character of God will help in the long run 🙂

  5. What about teaching them to fight their own battles, their own fears with the Scripture? It would be great to teach our children few verses and have them memorize them and then use them in those moments of fear.

    Have a blessed week.

  6. I had a similar discussion with a developmentally disabled lady in our church a couple of weeks ago. She did understand there are demons, and was looking for a mantra to make them go away..

    I think the real key is to focus on truth. She wanted to know that she could say “leave me alone in the name of Jesus” and that they would go away. I told her that may work, but the lies that they have planted will remain unless you replace them with the truth. It is much better to pair those phrases with truths like “I am an new creation, Jesus is my protector, I can do all things through Jesus who strengthens me” etc.. Fear is a lack of faith, and faith is built by hearing the Word. Rather than just condemning what is bad, it is best to meditate an remember that which is true.

    She came back a few weeks later and said that that helped her a lot, and her fears had subsided.

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