Help! There's a Monster in My Closet!
You’re walking down the hall after putting your 4-year-old daughter to bed when suddenly you hear her shriek. You run into her room where you find her standing on the bed, pointing at her closet and whispering that something is “hiding.”
- Sing a special song about “no bad guys allowed.”
- Look under the bed and in the closet to comfort your child; not because you recognize danger.
- Read a favorite book or tell a comforting bedtime story.
- Put your child to bed with a special blanket or stuffed animal.
- Have your child draw a picture of his fear and then throw it away as a means of letting go and moving on.
“By getting on your kids’ level and acknowledging their fears are real to them, you’re helping them achieve a sense of security that will be invaluable for the rest of their lives,” says Flotte. “If you’ve tried all these techniques and your child’s fears don’t disappear, ask your pediatrician about it at your child’s next regularly scheduled appointment.”
“The first thing parents need to do is take their children’s fears seriously,” says Pam Flotte, RN, Answer Line nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Then you can help them learn to overcome their fears.”
Night fears most commonly affect children ages 3 to 6 who are still trying to understand the difference between real and make-believe. Use these suggestions for handling night fears before you turn out the light:
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