The Nail Biter, Episode I: The Monster In The Closet

Natalie was an energetic 7-year-old who was nervous about a few things in her life.  She was afraid of the dark, receiving immunizations, and being yelled at by her teacher.  When she became fearful or when she was bored, she often bit her fingernails. Her mother was concerned that her fingernail biting was an unhealthy habit that could lead Natalie to develop colds because she put dirty fingers in her mouth

To help with her nail biting, Natalie’s mother had placed bandages on all of her fingers, but Natalie chewed through those.  She painted the nails with a foul-tasting polish, but Natalie said the polish tasted good. 
I explained to Natalie and her mother that her fingernail issues could be a way of coping with her fears.   This is why Natalie may have not cooperated with the measures intended to help stop this behavior.  Another possibility was that the nail biting had become a habit.  I suggested that the ways to help Natalie stop her nail biting would include teaching her other ways to deal with her fears and how to use her imagination to change her habit.
“Why are you afraid of the dark?” I asked Natalie.
“I don’t like it because monsters can come into my room when no one can see them.”
“Do you have a nightlight in your room?”
“Yes!  But the monsters can still come in.  They are sneaky.”
“Hmm,” I pondered.  “Have you ever seen a monster?”
“Yes!  One time I saw it in my closet.  When I turned on the light it disappeared!”
“That does sound scary.  What did you do?”
“I screamed and ran to my mother’s room.”
“How often do you go to your mother’s room?”
“Almost every night.  I get into her bed, and then I go to sleep.”
Natalie’s mother nodded.  “Does that disturb you?”  I asked her mother.
“I’m usually tired because Natalie wakes me up every night.”
I scratched my head and looked at Natalie.  “So, we need to figure out how to protect you from monsters.”
Natalie said, “Uh huh.”
“Have you ever heard of monster spray?”
“What’s that?”
“That’s a spray that you squirt around your room at bedtime, which keeps the monsters away.”
“Really!  You can buy it at a store, or I can give you a recipe to make on your own.  I think homemade monster spray is the best.  It is much cheaper.”
Natalie appeared quite interested.
“I will type the recipe for you,” I offered.  I opened up a new Word document on my computer.  “Come over here and let me show you.”  Natalie came and stood by my chair as I typed:
Monster Spray
Take 1 glass full of water. 
Bring to a boil. (Let mom help you with that).
Let it cool off.
Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Add a pinch of salt.
Add a bit of cinnamon.
Add 3 drops of lavender.
Mix well.
Spray with a squirt bottle.
I illustrated the recipe with pictures of a cup of water, lemon, salt, box of cinnamon, a bottle of lavender, and a spray bottle that is used to mist plants, which I copied and pasted from the internet.
“Do you have lavender at home?”  I asked her mother.
“I do.”
“Excellent,” I smiled.  “Usually, when monster spray is applied, the monsters never appear again.
Find out what happens next, when you read The Nail Biter, Episode II: The Shark Tooth Test.