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Kids waking up because they are scared of the dark....

upina2001upina2001 IndianaPosts: 763
edited November 2007 in All Encompassing Trip
My daughter, who is 4, has been waking up night after night because, as she says, she is "scared of the night." She has a night lite, a stuff Clifford dog (for protection), we leave the door cracked, the bathroom light on, and she still freaks out. I know kids have minds that race, I know because when I was a kid, I used to wake up, see people walking in my house or looking in my room, not be able to talk, have vivid dreams...etc.
My wife will allow her sometimes to sleep in our bed, which I am totally against normally, but I do allow it when she is scared. And other times, my wife will also end up sleeping in my daughters bed. My daughter normally asks for her mom, so its tough for me to ever console my daughter when she is scared. And normally, she wants to be consoled by the person that didnt get up....so that leads me to this:

how do you know if the claim of being scared by the dark is legit? And what do you try to do to sooth your kids? I assume her emotions are genuine, but kids are smart, and she knows that if she says she is scared, then it is more likely she can sleep in our bed. I do everything I can think of, give her long hugs, tell her its ok, and its just a dream, and Im here to protect her, nothing's gonna happen to her........etc....., so what's left?

9/22/96, 6/26/98, 8/17/98, 8/18/00, 8/20/00, 8/21/00, 4/18/03, 4/23/03, 6/22/03, 5/16/06, 8/5/07, 6/11/08, 6/12/08, 8/22/08(Ed Solo), 8/23/09, 5/6/10, 5/7/10, 7/19/2013, 10/1/2014, 4/26/2016, 8/20/2018, 9/4/2018

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Comments

  • upina2001 wrote:
    My daughter, who is 4, has been waking up night after night because, as she says, she is "scared of the night." She has a night lite, a stuff Clifford dog (for protection), we leave the door cracked, the bathroom light on, and she still freaks out. I know kids have minds that race, I know because when I was a kid, I used to wake up, see people walking in my house or looking in my room, not be able to talk, have vivid dreams...etc.
    My wife will allow her sometimes to sleep in our bed, which I am totally against normally, but I do allow it when she is scared. And other times, my wife will also end up sleeping in my daughters bed. My daughter normally asks for her mom, so its tough for me to ever console my daughter when she is scared. And normally, she wants to be consoled by the person that didnt get up....so that leads me to this:

    how do you know if the claim of being scared by the dark is legit? And what do you try to do to sooth your kids? I assume her emotions are genuine, but kids are smart, and she knows that if she says she is scared, then it is more likely she can sleep in our bed. I do everything I can think of, give her long hugs, tell her its ok, and its just a dream, and Im here to protect her, nothing's gonna happen to her........etc....., so what's left?

    It might be time to go Mr. Science on her. I did it with my son when he was about the same age and it seemed to work. Kids can be surprisingly logical. I just basically gave him the whole rundown on how the earth spins so the sun must go away every day etc, etc.....it seemed to make sense to him and give him comfort.
    one foot in the door
    the other foot in the gutter
    sweet smell that they adore
    I think I'd rather smother
    -The Replacements-
  • LikeAnOceanLikeAnOcean Posts: 7,722
    upina2001 wrote:
    so what's left?

    The orphanage...

    Come on, you weren't afraid of the dark when you were a kid???

    It's just a phase. Welcome to being a parent. It's a minimal 18 year job.. Just wait until she has parties and blasts music at 2 in the morning..

    :p
  • Ms. HaikuMs. Haiku Washington DCPosts: 7,077
    Get a football helmet, and one for her. Get knee pads and one for her. Get a baseball bat, and one for her. When she is scared, both of you put on your gear, and tour the house with a flashlight ready to tackle the boogeyman. Look behind the couch, under the beds, under dishes, and make it a fun game. It will wear her out, and she'll feel like a courageous hero because she was ready to take on the boogey man :)
    There is no such thing as leftover pizza. There is now pizza and later pizza. - anonymous
    The risk I took was calculated, but man, am I bad at math - The Mincing Mockingbird
  • soulsingingsoulsinging Posts: 13,211
    tell her she's a pansy and tht you'll give her something to be scared of if she doesnt quit whining and go to sleep.

    reason number 9376 i will never have kids.
  • Try not closing the curtains (or other stuff).... Sometimes this works when they are just opened!
  • mookie9999mookie9999 Posts: 4,676
    I used to sleep with not a nightlight on, but my bedroom lamp on. This helped me to sleep until I was no longer afraid. Which was about 6 months ago.
    "The leads are weak!"

    "The leads are weak? Fuckin' leads are weak? You're Weak! I've Been in this business 15 years"

    "What's your name?"

    "FUCK YOU! THAT"S MY NAME!"
  • You never should've given her a nightlight. They are bad news. It can lead to bad eyesight and a dependancy on having the stupid thing. But pointing out past mistakes won't make any difference now, sorry.
    I don't know if this will help, because my daughter's fear was slightly different. She was scared of ghosts in her room when it was Halloweentime. She woke up in the middle of the night 7 days in a row. She wanted to sleep in our room. After the 2nd night, I told her the ghosts are gone now and she seemed fine with that. Then she woke up because she thought spiders were crawling on her bed. So I vacuumed her room and told her I vacuumed up the spiders. The next couple nights it was monsters. Finally, one night at bedtime, I told her all the spiders, ghosts and monsters were gone... that they went to "Halloweentown," because Halloween is over. She's slept in her room, through the night now, for the last 5 nights. :D
    Obviously, your little girls fears are legit. Maybe you could start a bedtime routine that involves reading a story about a fear of the dark. Routine works very well for my girls. They are ages 2, 4 and 11.
    I really screwed that up. I really Schruted it.
  • DerrickDerrick Posts: 475
    Probably too late for this solution, but from a very young age it's good to get kids to sleep in perfect dark:

    - good blinds (not cheapo ones)
    - no night light
    - door shut

    But...you seem to be a bit past that stage so try the following:

    - Make sure she knows it's ok to be scared.
    - Keep her room free of clutter (remove old toys, clothes, furniture etc.)
    - Tucker her out during the daytime (sports/activities). An alert mind wanders...a tired mind falls asleep.
    - Make her tidy her room weekly. She will develop a distinct knowledge of what is (and isn't) in her closet...under the bed...etc.

    There are other tips but seriously try those first.
  • LikeAnOceanLikeAnOcean Posts: 7,722
    You never should've given her a nightlight. They are bad news. It can lead to bad eyesight
    I agree. I slept with a night light until I was about ten. Until I had lasik, I was nearly blind..
  • upina2001upina2001 IndianaPosts: 763
    thank you all for the good suggestions. We do have a good routine for her; reading books, relaxing before bed, but Derrick you are right, she is one tough cookie to wear down. She attends pre-school during the day, and they still make her nap, so yeah, she will go to bed some nights, CLEARLY, not ready to settle down. I would keep the door shut but she freaks OUT!!! and when the lite goes off, she is spastic!!!
    I've done the "let's search for monsters" bit, and everything...and believe me Soulsearching, I'm already past the "tell her she's a pansy and that you'll give her something to be scared of if she doesnt quit whining and go to sleep."--that didnt work either... :D

    9/22/96, 6/26/98, 8/17/98, 8/18/00, 8/20/00, 8/21/00, 4/18/03, 4/23/03, 6/22/03, 5/16/06, 8/5/07, 6/11/08, 6/12/08, 8/22/08(Ed Solo), 8/23/09, 5/6/10, 5/7/10, 7/19/2013, 10/1/2014, 4/26/2016, 8/20/2018, 9/4/2018

  • DerrickDerrick Posts: 475
    Sometimes you just have to let your kid freak out. If you cater to these reactions, imagine what she will do when she doesn't want to go to kindergarten, or doesn't want to brush her teeth. Explain to her there are appropriate times to be upset, but being in her room with the door shut is ok.

    Be calm and smile with love even when they are at wit's end. Monkey will see and do...eventually.
  • upina2001upina2001 IndianaPosts: 763
    Derrick wrote:
    Sometimes you just have to let your kid freak out. If you cater to these reactions, imagine what she will do when she doesn't want to go to kindergarten, or doesn't want to brush her teeth. Explain to her there are appropriate times to be upset, but being in her room with the door shut is ok.

    Be calm and smile with love even when they are at wit's end. Monkey will see and do...eventually.


    Granted I may sound like I am trying to cater to my child, and unlike a lot of parents that dont see what's really going on in certain siutations, I try to see the bigger intent and purpose.
    Ive been tempted to close the door and lights and say deal with it, but then again, I was terrified when my parents did that to me when I was little.

    9/22/96, 6/26/98, 8/17/98, 8/18/00, 8/20/00, 8/21/00, 4/18/03, 4/23/03, 6/22/03, 5/16/06, 8/5/07, 6/11/08, 6/12/08, 8/22/08(Ed Solo), 8/23/09, 5/6/10, 5/7/10, 7/19/2013, 10/1/2014, 4/26/2016, 8/20/2018, 9/4/2018

  • DerrickDerrick Posts: 475
    Well, if it's worth $50 bucks to you, you could buy a REALLY cool toy she's wanted and leave it (unopened) on the kitchen table.

    - "OH WOW, is this for me? I can't wait to open it!"
    - "Well, that's your present for when you have a tear-free bedtime with no lights and door shut."

    If she regresses after one night of no issues (and subsequently wins the toy), just take the toy away and gently remind her the requirements for that toy.

    Some call it bribery, I call it rewarding positive behaviour.

    --- Do distinguish between a bad dream and simply being a brat over the bedroom conditions. If they were ligitimately asleep and wake up due to a bad dream, that's ok...no need to be a hardass there.

    But as for the bratty stuff, I'd say be a hardass. Just say the rules of the house are that everyone sleeps with the door shut and lights out. Tell her when she grows up and has a place of her own she can make her own rules.
  • JaneNYJaneNY Posts: 4,438
    If she says she's scared, believe her. If its not true it doesn't matter because she needs to be with you for some reason so fill that need. Needs that are met will go away; needs that remain unmet hang around.
    R.i.p. Rigoberto Alpizar.
    R.i.p. My Dad - May 28, 2007
    R.i.p. Black Tail (cat) - Sept. 20, 2008
  • JaneNY wrote:
    If she says she's scared, believe her. If its not true it doesn't matter because she needs to be with you for some reason so fill that need. Needs that are met will go away; needs that remain unmet hang around.


    Well said.

    If she has to get into bed with you for a while, why is that such a problem? She's only four, a baby really. How many ten yr olds do you know who still sleep with their parents. In the grand scheme of things, if your baby needs to be close to her parents for a few months of her life, where's the harm in it.
    As for night lights, there is no link between the use of them and poor eyesight.
  • Just leave the light on for her, she'll grow out of it in a few years....or sooner hopefully.
    "It's all happening"
  • Ms. Haiku wrote:
    Get a football helmet, and one for her. Get knee pads and one for her. Get a baseball bat, and one for her. When she is scared, both of you put on your gear, and tour the house with a flashlight ready to tackle the boogeyman. Look behind the couch, under the beds, under dishes, and make it a fun game. It will wear her out, and she'll feel like a courageous hero because she was ready to take on the boogey man :)

    My child's not old enough yet but that sounds like great advice. I'll remember that! :)
  • catefrancescatefrances Posts: 29,003
    reassurance i guess. i went the whole there's no monsters in the dark, i would never let anything happen to you while youre asleep yes i'll leave the hall light on route and over time my kids grew out of it. now all i have to worry about is my youngest daughter sleepwalking.
    hear my name
    take a good look
    this could be the day
    hold my hand
    lie beside me
    i just need to say
  • It's probably just a phase unless she's covered in cold sweat and often talks about seeing dead people. Also if her head starts spinning around her shoulders in circles, and she's frothing at the mouth, that could require more than a gentle tucking in.

    holy water....lot's of holy water...
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    and reveling in it's loyalty. It's made by forming coalitions
    over specific principles, goals, and policies.

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  • I wouldn't EVER go to sleep by myself until my dad bought me the sweet dreams CareBear or whatever it was called. the first night, I went right to bed. I'm therefore surprised the Clifford doll didn't work.

    I doubt kids actually wake up to lie about being scared though. if she goes to sleep and then wakes up afraid, I'd bet it's legit.

    I feel bad for her though. When I was a kid I was scared of everything when I went to sleep (and still am a bit). I was scared of the usual boogie men, ghosts, monsters, but also aliens (my mum made me watch "V"), tornadoes, earth quakes, volcanoes (all in massachusetts mind you), fires, murderers, and the end of the world. I would never tell my mum what I was scared of though, but if I remember correctly, I always felt better after. Maybe if you can work on getting her to tell you exactly what she's afraid of, you can "solve" it together.
  • spongersponger Posts: 3,160
    Get her a dog or a cat or a goldfish or something that "has been trained in attacking boogie men." Be sure to adopt, not buy.
  • Did you notice what set off the behavior? Perhaps there is a tv show or a book they read at preschool that scared her?
    I remember seeing Unsolved Mysteries when I was about 5 or 6 and being afraid of the dark after it.
    "Don't lose your inner heat...ever" - EV 5/13/06
  • upina2001upina2001 IndianaPosts: 763
    Derrick wrote:
    Well, if it's worth $50 bucks to you, you could buy a REALLY cool toy she's wanted and leave it (unopened) on the kitchen table.

    - "OH WOW, is this for me? I can't wait to open it!"
    - "Well, that's your present for when you have a tear-free bedtime with no lights and door shut."

    If she regresses after one night of no issues (and subsequently wins the toy), just take the toy away and gently remind her the requirements for that toy.

    Some call it bribery, I call it rewarding positive behaviour.

    --- Do distinguish between a bad dream and simply being a brat over the bedroom conditions. If they were ligitimately asleep and wake up due to a bad dream, that's ok...no need to be a hardass there.

    But as for the bratty stuff, I'd say be a hardass. Just say the rules of the house are that everyone sleeps with the door shut and lights out. Tell her when she grows up and has a place of her own she can make her own rules.



    Good idea....too bad we just used bribery for getting rid of her pacifer. ($200 Dora 4-Wheeler.) We had to make up the idea of a paci-fairy. (she's the tooth fairy's cousin.) :)


    JaneNY: If she says she's scared, believe her. If its not true it doesn't matter because she needs to be with you for some reason so fill that need. Needs that are met will go away; needs that remain unmet hang around.
    good point.

    GreenTeaDisease: Maybe if you can work on getting her to tell you exactly what she's afraid of, you can "solve" it together.
    I hope so!!! THANKS!!


    dontloseyourheat Did you notice what set off the behavior? Perhaps there is a tv show or a book they read at preschool that scared her?
    I remember seeing Unsolved Mysteries when I was about 5 or 6 and being afraid of the dark after it. ----no, nothing really freaks her out. We do have a woods behind us and occasionally the wild cats will fight and she freaks out about that......and back in the day she thought there were lions in the woods, but she doesnt mention that too much anymore.

    9/22/96, 6/26/98, 8/17/98, 8/18/00, 8/20/00, 8/21/00, 4/18/03, 4/23/03, 6/22/03, 5/16/06, 8/5/07, 6/11/08, 6/12/08, 8/22/08(Ed Solo), 8/23/09, 5/6/10, 5/7/10, 7/19/2013, 10/1/2014, 4/26/2016, 8/20/2018, 9/4/2018

  • elmerelmer Posts: 1,683
    I use t beieve that there was something alive under my bed and that it'd crawl out when all light had ceased. Very intense fear I recall, was never an excuse for anything though maybe I was a bit of a wuss as it still happened into my teens (not the wanting to share a bed with mummy part though).
  • Steve DunneSteve Dunne Posts: 4,962
    This may have been said already, but maybe try letting her 'look at books' and fall asleep by herself with the light on. Turn it off later on that night when she's passed out.

    Another good one is when my 3 year old creeps downstairs cause she 'can't fall asleep'. I give her a kiss, have her watch a little hockey, and then tell her she came down by herself, she can walk upstairs and put herself to bed. Works every time.
    I love to turn you on
  • I know a parent that had this elaborate display they would do at night right before they put their child to bed.

    They had a spray bottle with "monster repellant" written on it and went all around the room and sprayed for monsters and then left it on the child's nightstand for them to use during the night if they awoke afraid. They said it worked.

    I could see how that might work if you really sold the idea to your child and involved them in buying the spray bottle and filling it up and spraying the room. Sure, you're kind of messing with the kids head. But isn't that what every good parent does from time to time? :p

    I think the child's fears are real and you have to teach them how to cope with those feelings. Even if you are kind of manipulating the whole scenario. At least you are giving them a feeling of strength and confidence by giving them some tools to help them be unafraid.

    My daughter used to try to get in our bed. I would just get up and put her back in bed and say "you just need to hug your friend (a stuffed toy) and think happy thoughts". She would do that. But she is very compliant and trusting of what I tell her. How I lucked out with that I have no idea. :)
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