Ahhhh the old Silly Monster. A crowd favourite with kids, an arch nemesis of parents and adults alike. What is the silly monster? Is it what happens to Mummy when she’s had one too many wines and thinks that singing karaoke and staying out partying until 5am is a good idea? Not quite. That’s a monster of a different kind I think (hello alco monster, I hope to meet you again in a matter of months….).
For kids, the Silly Monster represents that little part of us that can get a little too active sometimes. At the wrong time. Not understanding personal boundaries, not picking up those subtle cues that people might be getting a bit put out. Getting so excited our little brains get a bit scrambled and we can’t really put our impulse control or regulation skills into place. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, but the act of putting it into practice can get short-circuited by this Silly Monster. Sometimes the Silly Monster is just a by-product of excitement, or over-tiredness, or sometimes it can be a symptom of something bigger. Anxiety, ASD, ADHD can all feature the Silly Monster.
How can we tell if the Silly Monster is a temporary phase versus a more complex issue? We look at the pattern of behaviour over time. If the Silly Monster is persistent, happens across settings, and appears to be a chronic issue, then it might be time to go and chat to someone. If your young cherub is an active little thing, and doesn’t appear to have an ‘off’ button, don’t fret! It’s quite common for little ones to be all over the shop- it’s part of growing and learning about boundaries. It’s when that kind of behaviour doesn’t seem to be changing, while other same age peers are, that it then becomes a matter for further exploration. Prevalence rates of ADHD in Australia are a bit all over the shop. In a huge national survey conducted in 2000, the rate was about 11% of children diagnosed with ADHD. And as we now know, it’s not a ‘disorder of childhood’. It doesn’t magically disappear. It’s actually a neurological issue, meaning it’s there for life. What happens though is the person with ADHD learns and adapts.
A big factor that we need to acknowledge when it comes to the Silly Monster affecting our cherubs, is that quite often, these kids are the most emotionally sensitive children going around. Even though on the surface it may appear that they have no clue, and that they don’t care. They really do. I promise. They internalise a lot of that stuff, and many kids with lingering Silly Monsters will end up with a low self-concept, thinking they’re just the ‘naughty kid’ and that they can’t do anything right. They often feel like everyone hates them, and are at risk of having the Sad Monster come and pay a visit too. It can be really tricky to deal with a Silly Monster!
So how do we explain this to our kids? Let’s try this one on for size:
Have you noticed that sometimes we get so super excited that it’s hard to control ourselves? Or we have so much we want to say and do all at once, that our brains kind of get scrambled? It can happen to everyone from time to time, but if it’s happening too much to us, when others seem to have stopped, and we can’t seem to control it, then it looks like we might have a visitor making things hard for us. A little creature called the Silly Monster. Have you noticed the Silly Monster hanging around a bit lately? Cheeky thing, isn’t it? The Silly Monster jumps into our body and gets us all hyped up. And being hyped up can feel fun, for a little while. We have all this energy! We feel like we can do anything!! But after a while this can get a bit much for us to handle. And when the Silly Monster has taken over, it can make it hard for us to see what kinds of behaviours we’re actually doing. We don’t notice that it’s hard for others to learn, or that they might be feeling hurt or upset. We don’t mean to do these things, we definitely don’t want to hurt or upset anyone but the Silly Monster just takes hold and almost puts a blindfold on us in a way. If this keeps happening, how does the Silly Monster leave us feeling? Pretty darn sad about things, huh? We feel like everyone is cranky with us, we can’t seem to do things right and we don’t even know why it’s happening. It can be tough. But, the Silly Monster is something we can learn to manage. It might not go away entirely, but we can learn tricks so that we can keep the Silly Monster a little quieter, and feel better about us and what’s going on around us all at the same time. We just need to slow down, think about things, and plan ahead. We can do this together!
I think really the biggest thing to impress on a cherub who is stuck with a Silly Monster is that there is nothing wrong with them. They are fine! They are amazing! If it’s a temporary Silly Monster, it’s just a growth thing that they will go through, if it’s a more complex Silly Monster (i.e. ADHD), then really it’s just a different way of processing things- which can have it’s benefits as well! It’s all about letting them know that they have many, many strengths- they’ve just got to be able to stop and see them. And then working together to harness the strengths while slowing down that Silly Monster. When that pesky monster comes to visit, we know that we can sort it all out. There is hope! And that’s just what our kids need to hear. And sometimes we need to hear that too. We can really worry for our kids when we discover the Silly Monster. But they will be fine. Because they’ve got you.
Do you have a Silly Monster? Or is yours related to my alco monster? The two seem to go hand in hand, yes?