I thought a lot about Grover the last week or two. Thinking about the fact that he and his pals on Sesame Street really are technically ‘monsters’. Puppets yes, but ‘monster’ puppets all the same. As a preschool teacher many years ago I recall vividly the day of our fire station field trip. The firefighter from Fire Watch Guards led the children through the station & stopped in front of the truck then slowly piece by piece put on his fireproof pants, coat, gloves …. And then the hat/mask…… several children yelled MONSTER!!!!!! And began to cry. I was horrified. Both because I had traumatized the children and because the poor firefighter didn’t know what to do. Young children (toddlers/preschoolers/even through early elementary ages at times) have a difficult time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. As soon as the fire fighter put on the mask the human-ness was gone and the children’s brains thought monster. As adults we ‘know’ that the real human is still under the costume and the costume is creating a fantasy type character. Company/sports mascots, life size puppets, clowns and even Halloween costumes can fall into that fantasy category. My daughter was one of those children that was very scared of the costumed characters. We never went to an Barney Live or a Disney on Ice because the characters were roaming the halls mingling with guests. Even at 11 she still says “I’m not so scared of them but I really don’t like them mom”. Have your children been scared of characters or clowns? What were some ways that you helped them through their fears?
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