Location: Lang, Saskatchewan CAN
Number of kids: 1
Ages of kids: 3
Problem: About six months ago our da ughter (then 2 years old) began waking in the middle of the night screaming because of nightmares and monsters. This came out of the blue and we can only speculate on the causes. Her behavior since has been (at least to us as new parents) bizarre. She has gone through a phase of sleeping with only one blanket (we solved that one), sleeping only with all of the lights on - still), changing her clothes numerous times through the night (ending up nude nine out of ten times.)
Solution submitted by Cathy T. from Blenheim, Ontario, CAN: I have a three yr. old girl who seemed to accept the fact that it was time to give up her soother. She did not protest or question the event and it just seemed to go much to easily. The first night that she went to bed without it was even uneventful. As some time passed she began to cry out in the middle of the night claiming that there were spiders in her bed, then more frequently it became things like monsters. Eventually she began to cling to me and rage war in the middle of the night that I had to lay down with her because "something scared me." She got progressively worse in about 2-3 months time including holding her bowel movements. Then out of the blue during one of her episodes of screaming out from bowel pain she asked for her soother for the first time since having it removed. When it was discussed and returned to her all "downhill" activities ceased and life returned to normal as per life with a standard 3 yr. old.
Another solution submitted by TWS: I noticed that no one has responded this one yet, and that Is probably because It Is a very difficult one, and I am sure that you have had your share of cliches and pat answers. I hope I can share some Insights that might help.
Where has your child learned the existence of "monsters"? Saturday morning cartoons, watching adult horror movies with you at night? Small children cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy. For example, a child seeing the a cartoon character like Bugs Bunny get shot a dozen times by Elmer Fudd, or Wiley Coyote falling great distances only to get up again, might actually believe these things are real, and act-out these things In their play time. Same for monsters, most early morning cartoons are not at all like we when we were kids. Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Jetsons and Flintstones are no longer part of the fare, instead there is mysticism, demons, monsters and the like. You need to find the source of the "proof" of existence of monsters, and replace them with the "proof" of "no monsters." For example Disney uses many unreal monsters In their films, and many have no monsters at all. Compare the snake on "Aladdin," with the codgery old man In the "Fox and the Hound."
My oldest son is extremely susceptible to monsters on TV, even at 9 years old, he still hides when he sees a scary part on a Disney movie, but at the same he is also an incurable romantic, always delighting when boy gets girl. Your child may benefit from watching adult love stories, ("While You Were Sleeping," "Sleepless In Seattle," and other movie classics). Even at a young age we found that he enjoyed these films, we just had to be careful to make sure that there nothing offensive before letting him watch them.
My younger son can take it all in stride. He knows TV is fantasy and has a firm grip on reality. Unfortunately he is not as nearly romantic.
Another idea, is an alarm system. Now you don't need to go out and buy an real alarm system, your "alarm system" could be the dog, or even yourself. What does an alarm system prove? When I showed my kids that nothing could enter the house without the dog barking, or daddy waking up they became convinced of their safety. We had to play a little game. I pretended to be asleep and the kids pretended that they were a bad person trying to sneak into the house. As soon as I heard a noise, I jumped and acted out my most hostile and protective mode. The kids were delighted that daddy was an alert and constant watch dog. Later our dogs proved that they were incapable of sleeping through any noise or intrusion, and even later when we actually installed an alarm system (I have a home business and needed to protect the equipment in the office area), I demonstrated how impossible it was to even slide a window screen out of place without every siren and light going off at once.
I sure hope this helps. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any other ideas.
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