“I’m scared please can you check in the wardrobe”?
“Are there monsters under my bed”?
“Please can we have the landing light on”??
Is this something you are going through right now with your child?
If your child starts to have night time worries and is going through this phase, don’t worry. It is just a phase that will hopefully pass quickly for you all.
Firstly, you need to support them as best you can. Using gentle, soothing techniques and making them feel as safe and secure as you can.
Below is a list of techniques for you to use if your little one is going through this phase.
Just before we jump to the tips I want you to know that this is perfectly normal and occurs mainly due to your infant’s imagination developing & sometimes running wild so, like any phase in their sleep, try & remain consistent…… yes that phrase I use constantly (but it really does work!!!) CALM.
???? Let your child express their fears…attentively listen to them. Don’t interrupt.
Ask questions about the fears & let them offload to you. This in itself, may be enough to help your little one sleep, feeling like they have offloaded all their worries to somebody, so make time to listen. A nice part of a bed time routine at this stage is to ask what their favourite part of the day was. Say happy things and let them think happy thoughts…. Check if anything has made them sad. This will help them express their worries rather than bottle them up.
???? Have empathy & really try to understand & acknowledge your child’s fears. It’s a big deal & it is real to them. Don’t just dismiss them. Really concentrate & discuss the whole story that is in their minds. If they want to check under the bed or in the wardrobe, wherever their fear may be, do it calmly, with understanding. You may find that it could be a shadow causing the problem and by moving a light or an object it removes the issue. Or you may just need to acknowledge what’s happening and show them that there are no monsters hiding in the room.
???? If listening and acknowledging their fears doesn’t help to resolve the problem, then try to turn it into a positive. If your little one is seeing a shadow and thinks it’s a monster, maybe turn it and say you think it’s a fairy or a superhero, for example. This way you are still acknowledging but turning it into a positive experience.
???? Be creative…….make some “magic sleep spray” for their room. This only needs to be some water and let your little ones (or you) spray some into the air at bed time…think creatively and utilise your little one’s imagination.
I do speak with lots of parents with this challenge and it’s really common so offer your little one the chance to talk, lots of cuddles and reassurance. Be patient with lots of love and know it will pass…
Another tip to bear in mind is that over tiredness can add to this. Also if they have had busy days and no quiet time. So structuring the ideal amount of sleep into your day if possible and bringing bedtime forward for a few nights so you can stay and settle them in their safe sleep space. Then when they are settled into a routine and getting the ideal amount of sleep, you might find the fears subside.
If they do happen to wake in the night feeling scared, simply sooth them in their sleep space, remaining nice and calm and keep on repeating until this phase has passed.
– Written by Heidi Thompson | Certified Sleep Nanny Consultant