Fears at bedtime are present in many toddlers. However, it is also between the ages of 3 and 6 that the most frequent fears occur: fear of the dark, fear of monsters, and fear of noises that the child does not recognize. Sometimes these fears can be resolved simply with a lamp on the kids nightstand. However, some fears bother your child for longer.
Why are your children afraid?
The child has a lot of imagination and does not yet distinguish very well between what is real or not. And since, in the evening, he cannot see well in his room, he can begin to imagine that a piece of clothing is a ghost or that the shadow of a doggie is a monster.
You have to understand that, for your toddler, the monster he says he sees in his room is genuine. He, therefore, feels a real fear in imagining it.
Is a lamp on the kids nightstand a viable remedy for fear of the dark?
Night lights are often used to comfort children during the night. It is believed that a night light can help children sleep better and experience less fear of the dark. However, some experts believe that it is not a good idea to use night lights for children under the age of two.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that there is no need for night lights for children under the age of two. They say that these lights can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep because they create an artificial sky in their room.
When your child expresses fears at bedtime, he needs reassurance.
Throughout the day, your child feels different emotions that he does not yet understand very well. Some of these positive emotions include the joy of having done an activity he likes with his friends or with you. But other emotions can also be negative. For example, he was afraid of falling, and he jumped when he saw a dog approaching him in the park…
Sometimes these negative emotions of the day express themselves in fears when your child finds himself alone in his room to sleep. Be aware, however, that your child may also have fears at bedtime, even if nothing, in particular, has happened during the day.
How to help him?
To help him overcome his fears, your child needs you to put words to his emotions by saying to him, for example: “You’re scared, and you can’t sleep, right? He also needs you to reassure him by helping him to make the difference between his imagination and reality.
Set up a calm ritual at bedtime: story, soft music, small massage. This will allow your child to get rid of the tensions of his day and prepare for sleep.
Reassure him that monsters don’t exist except in books and on television. You can check with him once under the bed, but no more. If you do it every time, you give him reason to be afraid. You can also tell him you’ll come to see him when he’s asleep.
It is not necessary to turn it on systematically. Instead, let him choose whether to use it or not. For example, you can turn on the lamp on the kids nightstand or leave a flashlight in his room that he can turn on if necessary to reassure him.
Talk to him about your fears when you were a child and your tricks, if you had any, to get rid of them. He will thus realize that he is not the only one to have fears and that there are several ways to overcome them.
Suggest an imaginary action to increase his sense of control. This strategy is to be used when your words do not reassure him. For example, give him a plastic sword to fight a monster. Knowing what to do gives your child enough self-confidence to fall asleep successfully. However, even if it reassures him, repeat to him that monsters do not exist. The idea is that he realizes that he never needs to use the sword, and therefore there is no danger.
Books about monsters or witches: a good idea?
Stories featuring characters who can be scary are not to be avoided. They allow children to name their emotions in front of these characters, and since most accounts have happy endings, they can overcome fear. Instead, choose books filled with humor. This will let your child play down his fears.
Fears are common in most children between the ages of 2 and 6.
The child’s imagination makes him perceive objects differently at bedtime: it is, therefore, essential to reassure him.
Sometimes a lamp on the kids nightstand or establishing a calm routine will allow your child to cope better with bedtime.