A past client contacted me today about her toddler showing fear at bedtime. She was worried that her rockstar sleeper has regressed FOR GOOD! I assured her this is not the case, this is very common after 2 years of age and even great sleepers have bad dreams from time to time. But when it becomes a nightly “habit” or go-to worry for children then its time to bring in your Bedtime Fear Tools. You want to equip your children with their Bedtime Fear Tools in a fun and encouraging way. NEVER get upset at your child for having a bad dream. Yes, it’s frustrating to be woken up but your child was so brave to come and tell you and that is something that needs to be praised. I can remember how scary that walk was from my bed to the door…remember feeling like something was going to grab you from under the bed? It’s terrifying! So praise your child and give them lots of love in those moments.
- First do not tell them its not real. You need to empathize with them and validate their feelings. Remember you may have felt this way as a child at some point or another too.
- Eliminate electronics in all forms 2 hours before bedtime. Studies have shown that children who watch TV, play IPADS or video games 2 hours before bed are more likely to have nightmares.
- Talk to your child about how its OK to have fear, and how telling mommy that they are scared is great.
- Provide a comfort item for sleep, teach them a special song for when they are scared or have them count to 10.
- Look into deep breathing exercises that you can teach them when they’re scared.
An example of a breathing exercise is as follows:
Inhale slowly for 4 seconds through the nose.
- Ask your child to pretend that he or she is blowing up a balloon in the belly, so your child’s belly should inflate when inhaling.
- Wait 2 seconds, and then slowly exhale through the mouth. …
- Wait 2 seconds, and then repeat.
- Good Night Yoga is a great book to read and practice before bed. There are SO many great books on bedtime fears too, such as “Love Monster & The Scary Something” by Rachel Bright, Emily Brown and The Thing by Neal Layton. I personally love Mercer Mayer books, check out “What a bad dream”.
- Play Marconi Union, “Weightless” for night sleep on repeat or your Lil’Beans fave sleep sounds.
- Talk to your kids about how the dark is healthy for their sleep. It provides us with our BEST sleep and how bright night lights are going to cause them bad nights sleep or fragmented sleep, which then causes sleep debt.
After you have provided them with their night time fear tool belt, you should keep encouraging them to keep practicing their new tactics to manage their night fears when they occur. You can still help them for the first few times if you would like then just slowly do less and less while encouraging them to use their new fear tactics. Lots of day time talk and encouragement will help them get through this. It can take a few days but like anything the more consistent you are and the more you practice the better and easier it will be. If you’ve tried all of the above and it still doesn’t seem to be helping contact Nicole for more support.