All children engage in fantasy play, but what if the fantasies don’t stop when he goes to bed?? What if he suddenly starts having nightmares?
At around the age of 2 or so, just when you think you are getting over being repeatedly woken up by your baby, suddenly your little one wakes up screaming, or has a fear of the dark. Sometimes the solution is easy – if your child can tell you what is bothering him.
When my second son was about 2, I used to wake up in the wee hours with that feeling that someone was staring at me. And true as bob, there was my little one, just standing there and looking at me! I used to take him into our bed and once he was asleep return him to his bed, only to find him back at my bedside a few hours later!! This went on for quite a while and he never verbablised what was bothering him. Eventually, I had a light bulb moment and went out and bought a “night light”. From the night we first left that light on, my little boy never came through to our room anymore!
Nightmares rear their ugly little heads as our little ones apparently have a difficult time differentiating between what is real and what is fantasy and so they can be convinced that there are monsters under the bed or someone lurking in the cupboard!
Here are 6 ways to try to conquer your little one’s night time fears:
1: Light up
If your toddler hasn’t yet got a night light, now might be the time to go out and buy him one! Let him help you switch it on as he is going through his bed time routine. This way he knows the light is on and will stay on all night long to chase away any lurking monsters! https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the…/children-and-bedtime-fears-and-nightmares
Try to get your toddler to tell you what is bothering him at night. If he does open up and tell you, no matter how far- fetched his fears may seem to you, you have to remember that they are very real to HIM! So you have to be understanding and sympathetic and try to come up with a very good reason to allay his fears, if you can. If you can’t, you can always resort to saying you are always there at night and you will not let any bad thing happen to him!
If you can get hold of a children’s book in which the “hero” deals with a similar nightmare character as your child is experiencing, it may help your child to overcome his fears as he hears of the way the hero tackles the character in the book.
4: Comfort toy
A stuffed animal, the favourite blanket, the dog-eared soft toy –having his favourite item in bed with him can help your child handle his fear as he has a “friend” with him, who can watch over him whilst he sleeps.
5: Turn it off !
Turn off the television or electronic games at least an hour before your toddler goes to bed. If you are sitting watching the news and your toddler is playing on the floor next to you, without realizing it, your toddler also hears about whatever is going on in the world – a fire here, a tornado there. Although they are not consciously listening, all the images of natural disasters, terrorist acts which are being vividly reported and so on, may play a part in his night time fears.
If your tot is scared to even go to bed, reassure him that you are there for him and stay with him until he is calm enough to drift off. If he wakens from a nightmare, you have to reassure him again and stay with him until the fear subsides. Don’t tease or shame your child because they are scared of something. Eventually he will outgrow the monster type of nightmare and is more likely to have nightmares about what is going on around him in reality!!! But that’s for when he is much older!
Yours in photography