Banish those bedtime fears with these simple tips.
WORDS MELISSA K
“Mummy! There’s a monster under my bed! Come quick!” exclaimed four-year-old Seth. Jenn Lim, mum to Seth, shares “Seth used to sleep on his own from 7pm till 7am but recently he is afraid to fall asleep in his bed on his own. Now we have to be by his bed until he is in a deep sleep. Otherwise he’ll just keep crying out for us. It has been quite frustrating.”
Well-adjusted young children frequently experience anxiety when they are separated from their parents, and most children also experience night time fears. Bedtime fears — of the dark, monsters under the bed, and sleeping alone — are common from the age of three till five.
Dr Janice Wong a paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre shares some tips to deal with your child’s bedtime fears.
First try letting your child sleep in his own bed in their own room with the lights on. If the child’s fear is so great that he needs to sleep in the parents’ room, you can put another bed or mattress on the floor so when your child gets scared, he can go to the parents’ room and head to the extra bed or mattress without waking the parents. You can slowly move the mattress or bed closer to the bedroom door and gradually into your child’s room.
Understand and accept that your child has fears as it is part of growing up and he is in distress. Do not scold the child for having fears as this can cause their fear to escalate. Allow your child to calm down first before dealing with the fear.
Associate the place where the child sleeps with positive and fun activities
If fear is connected to the room, spend time with your child in the room to do positive and fun activities like reading, playing with a torchlight or pasting fluorescent stars on the wall so that it looks like space. Do this until your child is able to spend time alone in the room.
Once your child can overcome sleeping in the room with the lights on, slowly proceed to switch off the lights and install night lights. Once your child is ready, get him to also switch off the night light when he sleeps.
Children aged from three to five years also suffer from fear of monsters. The solution for it involves going on a hunt for monsters with him. This includes looking everywhere like under the bed, in the wardrobe, behind the curtains for the monsters. Declare the room monster-free after the hunt. You can also hang a “No entry to Monster” sign on the door. Parents can also take an empty spray, label it “Monster Removal Spray” and proceed to spray the room to rid it of monsters.