“It’s too scary, I don’t want to be by myself!” “Can’t you stay with me?” implores your child for the sixth time. Once again you are going through those bedtime battles. Tired at the end of the day, just needing some time alone to gather your thoughts before you then tackle the lunchboxes for tomorrow. ‘Just lie down and go to sleep’ you sigh under your breath. Does this sound like you and your house every night?
I am frequently working with children who have anxieties and fears of being alone in their own bedrooms. Yes the same one you have made a nice and cosy as you can with fairy lights, nightlights, teddies, blankets and more trying to head off their fears. Maybe you have sprayed some monster spray or hung a dream catcher or two. My biggest tips to you as a parent in this scenario is to sit down with your child no matter the age and ask them: What are they scared of? And then: What are their bad dreams about?
Both of these questions will give you clues as to their fears. Try to get them to be specific. Then ask where they saw this or heard it? This is a very important question as I can guarantee you most children have seen something similar to their fear on a tv show, dvd, book, app on a phone, dad’s wii game, overheard adults talking about current news or from other kids at school eg clowns.
Until you find the source of their fear and eliminate that ie. deleted the app, stop watching scooby doo, ninja turtles, war games, Harry Potter, Monsters Inc just to name a few, can you then help your child to be free from bad dreams.
And yes, this may be their favourite show that they ask and pester you to watch/do every single day. Once the source has been stopped it will still take 3-6 months for their mind to let go of the scary piece that plays over and over again in their mind, when they laydown to go to sleep at night. Not until then will your child be willing to be by themselves in their room at night with their teddy and fairy lights. Also you can get them to draw their bad dreams and then have them rip the picture into tiny pieces and put them in the bin – we throw away these dreams. Then draw a nice dream picture and put it on their wall – we keep these ones. Happy struggle free bedtimes for you all!