Every child, at some point in their life, is scared of the dark.
My oldest daughter began having bad dreams and coming to my room at the age of 5. I use to let her crawl into bed with me until she fell asleep and then I would move her back to her own bed. That was when I was a single Mom and it was just her and I.
This lasted until she was in grade two.
My second daughter, Little B, is five and a half. Up until just this past Christmas break, she was sleeping in a queen bed in her own room. We would put her to bed after story-time, tuck her in, kiss her cheek and then say good night. Off we would go and she would fall asleep all by herself.
During Christmas Break, she started having bad dreams and waking up calling our names in the night. When she did this before, we would hug her, tell her everything was okay and then tuck her back into her bed. She would go back to sleep on her own.
Now she calls us in the night but won’t go back to sleep unless we lay with her. She’s literally shaken up from her dream. She’s now telling us she’s afraid of the dark.
On average, she only calls us once a night. Laying with her till she falls back asleep only takes 15 minutes but ocassionally, it has taken up to an hour depending on how scared she is.
We have given her a special teddy to sleep with.
We do a room inspection before bed to assure there are no monsters lurking anywhere.
We remind her that the curtains only move because of the heat coming up from the duct in her room and show her how it works.
We purchased and added a night light to her room so that it’s not completely dark.
We’ve read a story about being afraid of the dark.
We switch the light on and off repeatedly so she can see that nothing changes in her room when the light goes off. It’s still the same as when the light is on.
We’ve tried everything or so we think.
She still wakes up and call us in the night.
We still lay with her until she falls back asleep. ( Note: If we don’t lay with her, she cries and calls and gets louder by the minute. We have a 3 yr old we don’t want to wake up.)
We are losing sleep.
She is losing sleep.
We are tired of having to do this every night.
We don’t want to bring her into our bed because we’re scared THAT will become a habit.
What do we do?
Most nights are manageable but some nights it takes her forever to fall back asleep and then 3-4 hours later, she’s calling us again.
I love my little munchkin and I want to be there for her when she’s scared but I also want her to learn how to deal with her fears in a way she can manage without relying on us.
I don’t want her anxiety about the dark to build to a point where she feels helpless.
Any suggestions for me? Have you gone through this? What works at your house?