Is your child one of the many children who has nightmares and a hard time falling asleep? Trouble falling asleep is a common problem parents of young children face. While for some the problem may be adjusting to a new home or sleepy’s mattress, for others the problem runs a little deeper. Here are the top ways to make the boogy man disappear so your child can rest easy.
1. Communicate with Your Child.
- Be patient and listen to your child as they talk about your fears. Never make fun of them or dismiss them, but try to see the problem through the child’s eyes. Once you have listened to them, they are more likely to listen to you as you explain safety to them and discuss coping techniques.
- Teach your child how to cope when they are afraid of something. Talk about “being brave,” or the power of positive thinking. Your child may benefit from hearing about how you have overcome a fear. Reading stories about children who have overcome their fears is also a great way to get the child thinking “if the character in the story can do this, so can I.”
- Talk with your child about his fears throughout the day and help him feel more secure in your home. These behaviors will carry through to night time routines.
2. Make the Dark Fun.
- Make shadow puppets on the wall to show how things that might look scary are actually really fun.
- Play flashlight tag
- Treasure hunt! Turn out the lights, grab your flashlight and search for things that glow in the dark
- When all else fails, introduce a nightlight.
- Purchase glow in the dark stars and make fun patterns on the child’s ceiling.
- Have your child draw a picture of the nightmare, then crumple it up and throw it away. Help him remember this action during the night when anxiety happens.
3. Comfort is Key.
- If your child is scared of being alone, try leaving his door open at night so that he still feels close to the rest of the family.
- Help him find a security object to cling to when afraid- a favorite stuffed animal, a blanket, or even having the family pet in the room can help a child feel more comfortable.
- Have your child assist you in determining the best object to help them feel less afraid at bedtime. Some pediatricians will even recommend mixing a “magic monster spray” (water & dish soap) to spray around the room and scare the monsters away.
- Avoid any media that may add to your child’s anxiety about the dark or bedtime.
- Help your child imagine relaxing images when falling asleep. Studies show it is physically impossible to be afraid and relaxed at the same time.
5. Enforce the Bedtime Rules.
- While it is hard to see your child scared, if you allow him to get out of bed and come to your room it may reinforce the “scared” behavior. Remind him to stay in bed and remember the things you have talked about throughout the day to help him overcome his fears.
- Don’t make a habit of staying in the room until he falls asleep or he may come to depend on it. Once in awhile it is ok, but not two nights in a row.
- If your child gets up in the middle of the night and comes to your room, reinforce the rules by tucking him back in his bed. Letting him sleep with you could complicate things further.
- Check on him every few minutes to reinforce that you are still there and that he is still safe.
- Ensure that the child’s fears are not simply a stalling tactic at bedtime, but be aware that nightmares are common in the preschool years as children’s imagination becomes more active.
Feature picture courtesy of apparentwisdom.com