Monday, 23 September 2013

Things that go bump in the night...

At the moment, my 6 year old son is going through a 'scared of the dark and anything else that he feels like being scared of' phase! He's always been close to me emotionally, but over the last couple of weeks he's got to the stage where if we're in the same room and I leave the room (without him noticing I've gone), he has a mini-panic because he can't find me!

There's also a growing list of things he's scared of, including any empty room, school, the dark and the back door! Bed time is becoming a bit of a challenge too. Usually, a quick bed time story is all it takes to send him off to sleep, but lately he just won't settle! We've ended up having a story, then leaving the light on for him when I've left the room. But I know that he then gets back out of bed and plays with his Lego because when I go to bed, I always peep in his room to see that he's asleep and there will be a Lego creation on the floor! He will be in bed asleep though!

On occassion though, he just won't stay in his own room. We've tried night lights, music, various teddy bears and all sorts. Today an email from The Good Toy Guide dropped into my inbox, covering how to deal with nightmares. He doesn't tend to wake during the night having a nightmare or bad dreams, but the recommendations make sense for any child who is scared of 'something'!


A nightmare is a bad dream that both children and adults experience. It can produce feelings in a person that they cannot control and often makes a person feel angry, shameful, scared, in fear, anxious, or upset. Remember nightmares are not real and can't harm anyone- they are figments of a person's  imagination. Nightmares occur during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep when a person is at their deepest point of sleep. Nightmares are triggered by psychological stress, anxiety, when witnessed an accidents/natural disasters/scary TV programme.

All children are different and prevention methods may not work for all children. You need to find the best way that suits you and your child with techniques that are favourable to you and your child.

Reassure your child- providing comfort for your child and tell them that there is noting to worry about. A kiss and cuddle may do this.
• Listen and discuss- Listen to your child’s worries and concerns and discuss how they are feeling and why. This will give you an indication of the cause of the light terrors and could enlighten you on a solution.
Have fun in the dark- Get a torch and have a treasure hunt in the dark or play tag in the dark. By a child having fun in the dark they will associated the dark with fun and will become less scared.
• Provide security for your child- Allow your child to sleep with something that provides them with comfort, such as a soft toy or blanket.
Get into a healthy sleep routine- Try and devise a bed routine together and adhere to this as much as possible and hopefully you will see a positive difference.
• Let there be light - Some children feel happier with a nightlight on. This is fine and maybe the comfort your child needs. Just ensure that the nightlight does not prevent the child from falling asleep, make it as dim as possible.
• Keep the door open- Keep the child’s door slightly open to prevent them from feeling isolated.They may fall asleep easier with background noise and hearing their parents voices. Also if a child is experiencing a nightmare and becomes distressed then parents have more of a chance of hearing them with the door open.
• No scary TV- Ensure that your child is not watching or witnessing anything scary before bed that could provoke a nightmare.
• Encourage positive thoughts-- Read a story and let them imagine the rest of it, encourages a positive dream.
• Visit a doctor – if nightmares persist then visit a doctor as there may be an underlying health issue.
The Good Toy Guide, September 2013.

This has given me some further ideas to help him calm his fears. He can't describe to me what he is scared of so instead of understanding the cause of the fear, I'm going to try and help him deal with the fear, whatever it may be! I'm sure in time, he will be able to explain what he is scared of.... but for the time being, we'll work on tackling the fear! 

The Good Toy Guide recommend these friendly worry-eater dolls and so we might give these a try too! Simply zip the 'worry' into the mouth and it will disappear, leaving you with nothing to worry about! Do these work for adults too!?!?

Wish me luck!