Are you a parent of a preschooler? I am, I have a 3 year old who’s imagination can run pretty wild some days. He is always running around the house playing at something or other, sometimes he is one of the pups from Paw Patrol, or deep in conversation with his Thomas the tank engine. It is fun to watch him play, to see his little personality develop in that imaginary world of his, but what happens when that world takes a turn into the scary?

Around Halloween my family was out picking up some things at our local dollar store and our son decided he wanted to go down the spook isle. Our son loved it, he thinks a good scare is fun, but the down side to these trips was his imagination took over at bed time. He started seeing ghost and ghouls everywhere he looked, in the closet, behind the curtains and of course the classic under the bed.

So for weeks we would show him that there were no ghosts anywhere in his room. We close the closet door, we kept it open, we left on a soft light for him to sleep by, but no matter what we tried, no matter what suggestion we followed, our son was up until after midnight watching for ghost until his little body could take no more and he passed out. We knew we couldn’t let this go on, we have a new born in the house and that little guy keeps us hopping at all hours of the night, so what to do? Neither my wife’s parents or mine had any real suggestions to offer. My wife didn’t have any real lengths of time in her childhood in which she would see ghosts and goblins for weeks on end, according to her mother. My father could only retell the story about the time I was scared that the fire people were after me in my dreams. This was apparently some imagery that I had pick up from a cartoon back in the early 80’s, but it only took my folks a couple of times showing me that nothing was coming for me and that it was all a dream before my young mind moved on.

So now it was time for some out of the box thinking, I looked at my wife the other day and said something along the lines of “What do you think would happen if we bought him a dollar store toy gun to shoot the ghosts with?” To which she responded, “I don’t know, what have we got to loose? Everything else we have tried hasn’t worked, it’s worth a shot.” With that the next time we went out to the dollar shore we picked up a cheap pistol for our son to use to protect himself form the ghosts with.

We laid out some ground rules for the toy gun. Rule 1: this gun was for shooting spooky things only. Rule 2: Pointing the gun a any person with the intent to “shoot” them results in the gun being broken and no other toy guns in the house in the future. Finally, after an attempt to shoot a ghost off my shoulder, Rule 3: If you see a ghost on someone, pull it off of the person and throw it in another direction before shooting it. With these rules we have actually accomplished two things, one: our son now has a way to proactively protect himself from the scary things in his imagination and two: he learns some basic gun safety.

So there you have it, agree or not, this was our way of dealing with an overactive imagination.


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