How to handle your child’s bedtime fears

Between monsters, nightmares, and being alone, bedtime can be awfully scary for some kids. If your little one is struggling throughout the night, here are some of our go-to tips to get rid of the terrors so you all can sleep peacefully.

Monsters under the bed

If you’re worried that by acknowledging the pesky monster situation you are confirming its existence, don’t worry.  Your child’s feelings about monsters are very real! Try these tips to get rid of the monster for good:

Monster spray

It might sound silly, but parents swear by monster spray. Take a spray bottle, create a fun “monster spray” label, fill it up with water and a few drops of essential oil, and spray the areas where your child believes monsters may be present, like under the bed or in the closet. 

Go on a “monster hunt”

Save your big Amazon cardboard boxes for a monster hunt. When your child tells you about the monsters, grab a box and go “hunt” them. 

Watch Monsters Inc.

Watching a fun monster movie like Monsters Inc. is a great way to change the way your child thinks about monsters. 

Place “guards” near the bed, door, and closet

Tell your child that no monster would ever challenge his or her big fluffy teddy bears. Place the stuffed animals near areas where monsters would thrive so they can protect your child in the night. 

Fear of the dark

Fear of the dark is a common phobia in children because they are old enough to use imagination and their minds aren’t distracted during nighttime. It’s important to talk it out with your child to understand what scares them the most. Try these actions to get rid of the nighttime scaries:

Try a smart nightlight

I’m a big fan of the Hatch Baby Rest. While many parents with newborns love it, it can also work seamlessly in your toddler or big kid’s room. It comes with a whole rainbow of colors and an extensive sound library (white noise, anyone?). You can control the light and sounds settings straight from your phone or schedule them to turn off and on at a certain time. If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, a simple touch will turn on the light.

Find a security object

Ask your child to pick out their favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Tell them this object will protect them throughout the night so it’s important to keep it close. 

Use meditation 

Apps like Headspace offer kid-friendly meditation programs that help your child relax before bedtime. Getting in the right state of mind prior to sleep may help your child’s imagination settle down and keep the fear out.

Rearrange the room

Dark shadows can be scary, so sit down on your child’s bed and take a look at the space from their point of view. If anything makes a spooky shape, rearrange the room so the object no longer looks like a monster lurking.

Separation anxiety

For many kids, the idea of being alone in the dark produces anxiety which can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. While you don’t want to encourage your child to join you in your bed every night, there are a few things you can do to lessen the anxiety.

Keep things light

When your child sees you confident and relaxed about bedtime, they may follow suit. Act as though bedtime isn’t the end of the world and reassure them you are nearby if needed. 

Make routine a priority

By keeping a strict routine prior to sleep, you’re allowing your child to mentally prepare for what’s to come. 

Don’t sneak away

Sneaking away when you think your child won’t notice will only add to their anxiety. Say goodnight at the end of the routine and make your exit.

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