I can remember as a kid being terrified to stay out at my Grandparents house. In the daytime, it was the greatest place on Earth… to me it was better than Disney World. My Grand Pap worked in the coal mine for many years and did OK for himself. He was always buying my brother and I the coolest things, and we were spoiled rotten from it. We each had our own Go-cart (which I learned to drive before I could ride a bike), we had mini-bikes, they had a pool, a pool table, BB guns, etc. It really was a little boys paradise.
However, as the sun started to set I could not wait to get in our car and go home. What I didn’t mention is that they lived on a 69 acre farm in rural Western PA. The roads were quite and there were always strange noises coming from the fields and the woods. Not really my cup of tea! As much as I liked spending the day there, I hated staying the night there even more. Still to this day when we go back to visit, I feel the same way.
Our youngest son Ethan has had some trouble (on and off) falling asleep at night, and when he does, he will also wake up a few times in the middle of the night. When we ask him “what wrong”, he will say that he is “scared.” As an adult, it is easy to get upset because of the lack of sleep, and tell him to “go to sleep!”. As an adult who was afraid of the dark, I have sympathy… because I know how he feels.
So how do you keep your kids from being scared at night? There are several things we did to help.
- We added an extra night light and put one in the hall next to his bedroom door. We found that he actually fell asleep faster when he could see the light coming in his room from the hall. It also adds the “Yellow Brick Road” affect in the middle of the night. Just follow the light to a “safer” place… Mommy and Daddy’s room.
- We replaced one of his night lights with a color changing and dimming light bulb, like the ilumi bulb. The calming red tones help sooth and relax at night and it turns to a great play toy in the day. Our kids love to have dance parties. Since this light changes to like a bazillion colors, he is able to host the dance parties in his room. With this light, we can control the color with our phones. (Did you know that blue stimulates alertness?) So its a win-win for everyone.
- We opened his closest instead of closing them. I can remember as a kid lying in bed, staring at my closet door, hoping nothing would come out. I think this was partly due to the movie “Poltergeist,” Thanks Mom and Dad! With the closest being opened, there is nothing to worry about- he can see right in, so he can just see that there is nothing in there.
- Let them pick out a “special” flash light and keep it near their bed. I will say at first you will burn through some batteries because they will love playing with it, but this will only last a week or so. The flash light will be their “light saber” if they get scared and can shine it to kill the Boogie Man.
- Pray for them. As soon as you tuck them in, pray for them (before you do the rest). Talk about how God will keep them safe and ask him to send his guardian angels to watch over our family and house. Becky tells Ethan that his praying is like putting an invisible bubble around him to keep him safe.
- Add a little bit of white noise to the mix. All of our kids have small fan, or a noise machine in their room. The background noise will help relax them and help keep them asleep for longer periods. It also will help hide the unexpected noises of car alarms, sirens, thunder, fire works, etc. I still like to sleep with a fan next to the bed (Becky says that I use it to quite the sound of the kids if they wake up in the middle of the night, calling for us. She still hears them. Another win-win for the Dads. …just kidding)
- Spend a little more time at night lying with them and talking to them before they go to sleep. It will help reduce the stress and pressure they feel of going to bed. Becky and I have found that if we just spend a few extra minutes with the kids, they actually fall asleep faster. Also you will find it is the time that they will “open up” to you more!
- Talk about ONLY happy things before they go to sleep. An upcoming trip. Something fun that you are doing tomorrow. A funny thing that happened the past week.
- Hang up pictures near their bed. Ethan has pictures of what he wants for Christmas (to remind him of happy things), pictures of his siblings, Becky and I, his cousins and friends. He loves to look at them when he is going to sleep.
- Be patient with them. This is the hardest one, but I had to throw it in there. If you get upset, it only makes the going to sleep part MUCH harder, after their adrenaline is rushing. This is a phase. This, too, shall pass.You might like this post: