How many movies feature the “Mommy! There’s a monster under my bed!” theme? That’s only because bedtime fears like fear of the dark or recurring nightmares are common amongst preschoolers. By the pre-school age, children begin to develop an untainted imagination built of everything they see or hear. They begin to understand fear and pain a little more and become aware that some things can hurt them.
Some of these fears come from experience, or from parents fears passing down to the children. Some children may even feign fear as a tactic to avoid bedtime.
The first step to do is to identify the source of fear and then follow the steps below.
Do not ridicule or dismiss your child’s fears. Listen and be understanding about it. Your child’s only security so far is you so laughing may have some serious rebellious repercussions and feel like rejection.
Reassure and comfort your child, making him feel safe from whatever may be scaring them.
Teach them how to cope :
Once your child is reassured, begin to teach them how to cope. You can tell them stories of bravery, help them think positively, or tell them how you would choose to deal with fear. Give them examples of people who have overcome fear so that they can be inspired and encouraged to get over their own.
Be creative with solutions :
If your child fears something imaginary, use your creativity to battle it. Tell your monster-fearing child that daddy has already sprayed some great monster-spray around and they can now sleep soundly again.
Objects for security :
A lot of children get attached to a particular soft-toy or blanket and it becomes an object of security. Introducing your child to a security object can help him feel more relaxed at bedtime.
Nightlamps add faint ambient light to the room so that the child can watch the room fearlessly as he falls asleep. If your child sleeps in a separate room, leave the door open so that he doesn't feel isolated.
Avoid fear-inducing shows :
Scary movies or shows can feed on your child's fears, leading to nightmares. It is best not to expose your pre-schooler to them at this sensitive age.
Shift your child’s focus to something that comforts them or makes them laugh. Distracting them from what is scaring them can take your child's imagination on a different trail and can help them sleep better.
Discuss during day time :
Night time discussions can aggravate the fears so try and discuss their fears in broad daylight. Working on self-confidence in the day can help your child feel more secure during bed-time.
Set up a system where you reward your child for being brave. Give him stars every time he sleeps on his own without any crying/tantrum. This reinforces good behaviour and over time will become a habit.
Don't worry; you're little one will eventually break out of night-time fears and learn ways to cope – just with a little guidance and inspiration from you. And before you know it, this nightmare will be over. Pun intended!