For about 6 months now, our youngest (Cypress – 7) has been struggling with overwhelming night time fears. She’s scared of allllll the things. She’s pretty sure there are monsters under her bed, bad guys that will break through her windows and kidnap her, and that bats will fly around her room and poop in her mouth and she will be Patient A of the next global pandemic.
In her defense, our kids have been through the wringer the last few years, and it’s understandable that there’s some underlying trauma that their little minds are dealing with.
Also in her defense, we do have bats on occasion. And we’re trying to fix that situation. But I too am terrified of them, so… VALID.
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We posted a desperate plea to our beloved Instagram audience, and got so many good ideas! I know we’re not alone in these struggles with out littles, so we thought we would share the love and maybe some of these things will help your kids too. Because mama needs her sleep too. Amiright?
Our first strategies were to make sure she had a working nightlight, not to ever skip bedtime prayers (thanking God for keeping us safe and making us strong). We even cut out sugar before bed, and dramatically reduced food coloring (which can impact kids more than you know)! But when those things were still not helping alleviate her fears, we started adding some other things to help her feel safe and sleepy.
First things first… Lavender! I’m not one to rely on oils for too much, but this is the one thing that has probably helped the most. You could diffuse it in your child’s room or put a dot of it on their temples. Or even dilute it and put in a spray bottle to spray their pillow. Cypress calls it her “sleepy time sauce” and it’s adorable. We love this brand.
Note- we do not endorse the idea of using a spray bottle as “monster spray” to trick the child into thinking the monsters are gone. In our opinion, this only reinforces the fact that THERE ARE MONSTERS. And we would rather just reiterate to them that monsters aren’t real. But you do you! No judgements! This is just our personal stance on this.
Our girl doesn’t have a tablet, but we keep one of our old phones in her room so she can listen to some peaceful music. A couple friends recommended Scripture Lullabies, and it is truly beautiful, sleepy music. You could play it on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and Pandora.
Since we live in an old house, there are always creaking sounds that send her into a fear spiral, so adding a sound machine has helped out with this dramatically. I almost bough one of those fancy Hatch sound machines, but those suckers are expensive! This one works just fine. It has lots of different sound options, and different glow-y colors.
I tried to stay away from Melatonin, because… even though it’s “not habit forming”, it just makes me nervous to create even a subconscious dependency. In desperation, I researched and found this brand that has no added sugar or food coloring, and Cypress loves them. This is one of those things where it’s reeeeally hard to know if it’s truly working. But things are better. Ya know?
I dug into the scripture and found a few Bible verses that specifically talk about fear, and chose the versions for each that seemed most child appropriate. I made these little posters to hang by her bed, and we read one together every night as part of our bedtime routine. By now, she has all 3 memorized. I thought it might be helpful for me to make these available for you to print too? Just click HERE or on the pics below to download a free printable version of these Bible verses.
This one I’m including because SO MANY people suggested this. However it didn’t seem to help for Cypress, and she didn’t like feeling “trapped”. LOL! Do your kids like weighted blankets?
Last, but certainly not least (because this has been the thing that has helped Cypress the most), is AUDIO BOOKS. Finding age appropriate audio books for your little one are a game changer. It’s the one thing that gets her out of her head and redirects her thoughts to the story. Of course you’ll need to screen the book for any scary parts or anything that you think might trigger your child. Cypress know how to put on her own audio book, and she always falls asleep listening to it. I turn it off on my way to bed, and set it back a couple chapters so she didn’t miss anything.
You can often “borrow” audio books from your local library using the Libby app. But we also have Audible through Amazon, and Cypress is listening through the Whatever After series (again). This series has been well loved by all our kids and is so clean and cute. The stories are captivating!
I hope this was helpful for you and your little one, and that bedtime will slowly get easier and easier. If you have any other ideas that have worked for your kids, please share in the comments below!
Go forth and get amazing sleep!
Psssst! Be sure to also check out this post I wrote about helping your kids overcome fear of things like insects, as well as how I overcame my own crippling fear of crickets. 😉
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Our middle son had horrible night terrors, nightmares, fears. A friend of mine said instead of trying to convince him the monsters are not there, make them not scary. We had story time with each of the 3 littlest ones contributing. The story was about a child (boy or girl) who saw something really ugly, big, whatever they came up with that night, hiding in the closet, under the bed, in the basemen. The end of the story was always it wasn’t really scary after all. It was a guardian angel, we just didn’t know what they looked like before. In about 3 weeks we were done with the night terrors and nightmares.
We also read some kids books about gangels that were published by Focus on the Family.
Bethany Sy says
I love this perspective! We definitely have to find what works for our specific kid, and they are all so different! When I was a kid… and even up until I was a teenager… I would peek behind the shower curtain IN MY OWN HOUSE every time I needed to use the bathroom to make sure there wasn’t anyone there. 😉
Mea Cadwell says
I know you said you didn’t want to do the monster spray but it helped my son. Here’s why:
I had told him multiple times that monsters didn’t exist outside of scary stories and movies. But then we talked about how monsters always seem to disappear when grown-ups are around. I took some of my perfume and watered it down and had my son spray it in his closet and under his bed (the “monster areas”) so those areas smelled like me.
In the process, he’d see there was nothing in the closet and nothing under his bed (except maybe dust bunnies) with the bravery of “Mom’s Monster Spray”. He, himself, could see for himself, no monsters existed in either place.
About a week after we started this I noticed he wasn’t doing it anymore. I asked him why and he realized what I said was true – because he never saw any monsters after several days the monsters must not have existed to begin with.
It worked for me.
Glad you found some things that are helping your little one!