For months bedtime went smoothly. 

You follow the daily bedtime routine; tuck your children in, give a kiss, leave and they drift off to sleep. 

Recently, one of your children has become scared and is afraid there is a monster under the bed. 

You reassure your child that there is no monster, but he insists.  Despite all your promises, “magic sprays” and pep talks, the fears escalate into bedtime tantrums or your child ends up coming out of the room screaming and in tears. 

You are stumped and exhausted from the drama.

There are many different types of bedtime problems parents may experience. To get the best results, your response must address and resolve the core issue causing the bedtime problem. If all you do is try to trick them without resolving this core issue, you won’t get good results and the bedtime tantrums will continue. This article addresses bedtime tantrums caused by fears that prevent them going to sleep or cause them to get out of bed.  Bedtime Fears

Children’s fears are real — to them.  Belittling your child or denying the emotion will not make the fear disappear. Instead, acknowledge your child’s fear without agreeing that what they are afraid of is real. For example, say “It must be scary to think there’s a monster under your bed;” instead of “You’re scared of the monster under the bed.” 

Brainstorm ways your child can overcome the fear. Empower children to be their own heroes instead of putting on your cape and rescuing them. Use their imagination to conquer their imaginary fears. Here are a few ideas:

  • They can make magic spray and use it themselves.
  • Tell them since it’s their room all monsters must get their permission to come in. Have them practice telling the monster to get out in an assertive forceful voice.
  • Tell them they can control the size of the monster. They can point at the monster. As they move their finger down, the monster will get smaller. They can do this until it is so small they can stamp it out or kick it like a ball. 

With children ages three-years-old and older, explain that fears always start with a thought and can be controlled by choosing a different thought. Help them create an imaginary safe place or protector to recall when they are scared. Guide them through this calming visualization the first few times. Then encourage them to do this for themselves when they are scared. 

If they fear something that actually happened that was traumatic, explain what steps you’ve taken to assure it won’t happen again. Teach children EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to de-program the post-traumatic reaction that haunts them. See http://www.energypsych.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=225. 

Having a child that is fearful and having bedtime tantrums is only one type of bedtime problem.  For details on how to solve all ten bedtime challenges get the teleseminar that summarizes all my bedtime articles.   Click here for more details about “The Halting Bedtime Hassles” teleseminar.  This one hour audio contains the solutions you need to help solve all top ten bedtime battles with children.  Click here to check it out!

 

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Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop and president of Parent’s Toolshop Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. She has 30 years experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. Currently, she hosts the Parents Tool Talk radio show and is a parenting expert columnist for Chic Mom magazine. She has produced almost 100 multimedia resources, which are available at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.org.  

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