Hug Your Monster

Don't run away from your monster. Hug it instead!

By Momentous Institute | Nov 07, 2016

We love this idea from JoAnn Deak in her book “Girls will be Girls”. She calls it “hugging your monster”. Essentially, she encourages girls - but really all teenagers - to face their fears head-on. Rather than running away in fear from the “monster” in a child’s life, she can approach it and tame it.

Of course this is good for the idea of overcoming fears and obstacles, but that’s not the only reason. The way the adolescent brain is wired is to develop areas that are used, and remove areas that are not used. So if a child is afraid or apprehensive and doesn’t ever use the part of the brain that accomplishes a certain task, the brain will remove it. Conversely, as the brain tries new and novel experiences, it is forming new neural connections.

Of course we are talking about safe challenges here. Things like trying out for a sports team, even if a child isn’t sure she’s good enough to make it. Or applying to a college that’s a little bit of a stretch, or signing up for an advanced class even though it will require more work. The monster - the fear of rejection or the extra work or pressure - still exists. But as a child approaches this monster, it takes the power away. She can say, “I’m going to try this anyway!” rather than, “There’s no point. I’ll never make it.”

We can all use this reminder from time to time, but for teenagers, it’s especially important. As we know, the brain is under a huge amount of construction during this period. The more kids develop and grow their neural connections, the smarter and more resilient they will become as adults.