Childhood nighttime fears are a challenge that many parents face. Young children are vulnerable to vivid imaginations and have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality. No matter how silly it may seem, a child’s fear is real. Knowing healthy techniques to alleviate nighttime terrors can mean the difference between a quiet evening and a wakeful one for parents and their children.
Halloween is a highlight of the year for many children. The excitement of trick-or-treating can make getting little ones to bed a challenge, particularly with visions of vampires dancing in their heads. According to the Kids Health website, children ages 4 to 6 are particularly susceptible to non-reality based fears, such as ghosts or monsters. Adding favorite pictures to the child’s bedroom wall or hanging a mobile near his bed can help him calm down after a stimulating night.
Animals and Insects
Animals and insects are a part of every day life. The dramatic images of a Bengal tiger in the pages of a beloved story book may translate into a tiger in the closet after dark. A wasp in the garden may become a terrifying memory once lights are turned down. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ website, Healthy Children, says that allowing a child to have a night light or a flash light can help reassure the child that he has nothing to fear.
Things Outside the Window
In the dark, the shadow of a tree waving on a window blind might terrify a young child. Nighttime animals, such as bullfrogs and owls, or tree limbs scratching against the house, all create noises that little ones may find difficult to fall asleep to. Experts at Zero To Three website suggest assigning a favored toy as your child’s nighttime protector and role-playing situations during the day when the protector-toy is in charge of the bedroom.
Things That Are Real
Children ages 7 to 12 begin to experience reality-based fears such as kidnappers, natural disasters or house fires. These older children require a non-critical listening ear when it comes to voicing their fears. Medline, the website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, recommend that parents censor their child’s television exposure, including news programs, and that parents encourage their children to ask questions. A secure, predictable home puts children at ease. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that most children will outgrow age-appropriate fears.