Bedtime Fears: Children and Nightmares

Bedtime-fears-How-To-CopeBedtime fears is one of the commonest cause of sleep problems in pre-school children though it can extend up to early teenage. At this point it is to not that as annoying and disruptive to sleep as they may be, this fears are normal.

It is however important that bedtime fears are manages so as to help the child to understand the difference between real and unreal fears/dangers. This fears are caused or at least exaggerated by external as well as internal factors such as:

  • Parental conflicts..
  • Horror movies.
  • General anxiety
  • Stress – and yes children do experience stress.
  • Watching scary or sad news late in the evening

In fact, most experts agree that bedtime fears show that your child’s imagination is developing normally. These fear help the child to under that not everything in world is safe and kind like their immediate family.

Toddlers are more likely to have bedtime fears involving imaginary things like ghost and monster. On the other hand, school-age and teenage children are more likely to be scared of real things like bugler attack or natural disaster. It is therefore important to understand the fear before attempting to help the child.

Bedtime Fears: Effects on Sleep

Bedtime fears can have mild as well as serious effects on the sleeping patterns of a child. This fears are considered to be mild if the child is at least able to achieve sleep but is woken up at sometime in the night. In more severe bedtime fears, the child is so afraid that he/she prefers to be awake in order to avoid the bad dreams.

Bedtime Fears: Coping Tips


Reassurance is important is treating bedtime fears especially in young children. You should try to drive home the point that they are safe and that you are always watching over them.

Try to explain the fear to the child and at no point make fun of this fears. For older kids, you will have to take more practical measures than to help them cope since you will realistically not always be by their bedside.

Play in the dark

Most of the bedtime fears emanate from the belief that bad things happen in the dark. It is therefore helpful to play fun game with your child in the dark or at least under minimum lighting. Examples of games you can play with your child in the dark include:

  • Hide and seek.
  • Police and thief.
  • Treasure hunt.
  • Flashlight tag.

Imagination to Fight Fear

Bedtime fears are just imaginations. It therefore makes sense to fight these fears with positive imaginations. “Safety objects come in handy here:

  • A picture of Jesus or angels helps to ease the bedtime fears.
  • Let the kid sleep with their pet in the bed.
  • A family photo of parents holding the child.
  • Spray the room with “anti-monster spray”.

Needless to say, the child’s bedroom should be free from any items that may make the child feel scared.

Bedtime Fears: Big Mistake

Most parents are busy during the day and would want good night sleep. For reason, parents prefer a quick fix to bedtime fear that is sleeping with child. Even worse is moving the child’s bed into the parent’s bedroom.  This only serves to reinforce the “fact” that these fears are real.

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