Author Topic: Monsters in the night!  (Read 470 times)

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Offline Gobolinosmum

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Monsters in the night!
« on: December 19, 2016, 22:33:30 pm »
Hey,

It's been a while since I last visited and Arthur is now 4 so maybe a bit old for this forum but wondered if anyone has any advice on night terrors please?

He has slept through like a log for the last 3 years...Until this month. He had a terrible nightmare a few weeks back about some monsters trying to open his bedroom door. It was 4 am. First He was roaring loudly at them to try to scare them away and then screaming, shaking and crying. He was so afraid that I let him sleep in our bed for the rest of the night. The next morning he announced that he was going to make a sign for his bedroom door saying "no monsters". It worked for a couple of nights then he had the same dream again and announced in disappointment that monsters can't read.
Since then, he hasn't had the dream again but has been waking up every night for weeks. He's scared to go back to sleep in case he has another nightmare. At first I let him sleep on the day bed in our room a few times but obvs he then wanted to do that every night. He's not actually had a nightmare in weeks, he's just scared to sleep alone so I tried a reward chart to help him sleep in his own room. It worked to a certain extent. He now sleeps in his own bed again but is waking up 2-5 times a night and refusing to go back to sleep unless I sit in his bedroom floor until he's asleep again. It's exhausting. I'm so tired! I have tried everything to help him feel happy and secure and to make his room a cosy place to be. He has a night light, a little Xmas tree, teddies, soft blankets, the door open, a dream catcher etc etc. we spend time telling him funny stories and snuggling before bed. We discuss the nice things we've done and the nice things we're looking forward to. Nothing seems to make a difference. Does anyone have any other tips for helping a nearly-5-year-old get back into a good sleeping pattern? He has a very solid sleep history and I used baby whisperer methods with him from a very early age but we just seem to have got out of kilter with his newly developed imagination.

Thanks everyone!  :-*


Offline Scottishmummy

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Re: Monsters in the night!
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2016, 12:21:08 pm »
Hi there!
Sorry not had any experience of this but bumping post for you and hopefully someone who can offer advice will come along soon.
"Touchy/Spirited" DS


"Textbook" DD



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Re: Monsters in the night!
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2016, 13:37:24 pm »
Sounds exhausting having to sit in his room several times per night!
Honestly I think it's just time to have a chat with him, be straight forward about it and be clear on what is going to happen.
Nightmares and monsters are horrible and truly terrifying BUT they are not real.  You've given him the due sympathy for the bad dreams and fears he had but IMO if you continue to sit in his room you may be feeding the fear by agreeing that Mummy needs to keep guard. You have already said he hasn't had this nightmare again but rather it is fear of having the nightmare, he needs you to guide him away from that fear by reaffirming that he is safe to go to sleep alone.That's not to say I think you have done anything "wrong," I don't, I think you did absolutely the right thing in the first instance and going forward, BUT now it's time to stop.
I would make time in the day for a proper chat, tell him there is something we need to talk about. Then cover a few different things:
1. Monsters are not real. The only people in the house are (name them, Mummy, Daddy...sibs, pets) and Mummy and Daddy are ALWAYS looking out for him, no matter what.
2. Our brains can make things up. Dreams about monsters are made in the same place as dreams about ice cream. You don't want to put "blame" on him by saying it's his own fault and his own brain making this stuff up but I do think it is also possible to explain how the brain works a little and that the existence of good and bad in his dreams is from his own creation. The monsters are no more real than the ice cream.
3. Tell him he hasn't had the nightmares for some time and it is now time for Mummy to get some proper sleep.  Mummy can't play properly or be the best Mummy if she is awake lots of times in the night and you want to be the best Mummy you can be.  You need your sleep and he needs his sleep - tell him that.  Tell him how important sleep is for growing, developing and mending our bodies.
4. Repeat he is safe
5 Repeat Mummy and Daddy are ALWAYS looking out for him and taking care of him.
6 Introduce what is going to happen - if/when he wakes in the night he is to snuggle down, remember Mummy loves him, grab his lovey/cuddly, think of happy thoughts and go back to sleep.  This is his job now, to go back to sleep.
7. Tell him what will happen if he calls you - you will respond but you are not going to sit in his room until he falls to sleep.
8 Be clear what you expect from him - a good nights sleep for all the family, we all need our sleep.  Turn over and go back to sleep.

Then only go in once per night, cuddle, kiss, everything is fine, go to sleep. Leave the room.
If he is very upset stay a little before leaving the room, but do not sit and do not agree to sitting whilst he falls to sleep.
From there verbal reassurance from outside the room or WI/WO - whichever you feel is more suitable.  Use your usual key phrase if you have one, otherwise "everything is okay, go to sleep" is fine.

I think really at this point you have to show him the way and you can. He can be back on track soon.

I've had phases of multiple call backs etc, usually around the birthday and half birthday. I'm having a phase now with my almost 6yo and have told him now that he gets to choose how I spend my half hour at BT, I can either cuddle in bed and read his book with him (which is what we usually do part of wind down) OR he can call me back in for half an hour and I'll go up and down the stairs or sit outside his room telling him to go to sleep - his choice. I've told him what I am not prepared to do is spend half an hour reading books and cuddling and then a further half hour up and down the stairs.  He went to sleep right off one night after making his choice for me to read, but the next night started the call backs again. Tonight I am not reading with him, he will read alone, then I will go up to kiss him goodnight and tell him I'm available for call backs for half an hour.  The truth is I will ALWAYS respond to him, but honestly when I've been up and down the stairs 6 times my response is unlikely to be what he wants, yk?
I know it's a phase.

Hope this helps.



Offline Gobolinosmum

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Re: Monsters in the night!
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, 08:57:51 am »
Hey! Thank you, I think this is what I needed to hear. I've been feeling like a terrible parent as My mum says I shouldn't tell him monsters aren't real as they're real to him. She thinks I should be making "monster spray" for him to use to keep the monsters out of his room. She also thinks that in telling him monsters don't exist, he will feel like I'm not listening to him and inevitably end up alienated from me and probably on the streets taking drugs ...mothers have a special way of making you feel good eh?!  ::)
I my opinion, if I perpetuate his fears by going along with the monster story, I am not only lying to him but also setting him up for more potential stress about other imaginary evils. I think I'm doing a thorough job of listening and discussing his fears and giving him plenty of understanding and cuddles but equally, we all need sleep and he needs to know that he's safe. There are many kids out there in the world who are not safe in their own homes so I think there is immeasurable value in being lucky enough to be able to tell my children (with reasonable certainty) that they really are safe in their beds. They're so lucky to be having such peaceful secure childhoods and I think we as parents need to harness this opportunity to help them feel the benefits of it.

Anyway, we did as you suggested and had a good chat while he was awake, with cuddles, about how we all need to sleep and how safe he is in his bed etc. He then got up every half hour until 3am  :o but he said he was feeling poorly so I gave him benefit of doubt as this is extreme even for him. I'm going to see how he does over the next day or so and when he's feeling better I'll try again. I think you're right in what you say so I'll report back soon... Thanks again so much!  :-*

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Re: Monsters in the night!
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2016, 08:20:33 am »
Glad to me of help.
Your mum sounds very caring and I can understand her point of view to an extent (not the part about ending up on the streets taking drugs I think that's a tad extreme if you don't mind me saying), but, yeah, otherwise she sounds caring and wanting to guide you to keep the bond of trust which in essence is a wonderful thing.
There is a huge difference though between a parent who responds to monster fear with "Don't be stupid, monsters aren't real. You are stupid. Shut up and go to sleep" or just not responding at all and leaving LO alone in the dark scared half to death. And on the other hand a parent who responds "I know you are very frightened, I am been very frightened too when I have bad dreams but I know it is my own mind inventing them. It is really scary, I know that.  Mummy is keeping guard all night, I am in the house, I am right here."
I think you can feel confident that you are being kind and caring about the monster fear whilst also providing factual information. You aren't expecting him to just deal with this alone but you are expecting him to take on board everyone needs to sleep.  Going in once and then using verbal reassurance from outside the room is still responding - obviously if he was screaming in terror you'd go in cuddle and stay longer, but if he is just holding you hostage saying you have to stay until he is asleep - it's different.
Waking more times could be him trying to process what you have said, or illness.  If he is trying to process it, he could be waking more frequently to "test" if you really do respond, which you do, you just don't get held hostage.

Good luck - I think you will find you way well in this :)