Afraid of the dark. Afraid of monsters. Many children will subscribe to one of these fears, if not both.
One night I woke up only to discover my two year old daughter huddled in the corner in our bedroom, sitting quietly clutching her tigger. Surprised and a little disturbed, I took her back to bed and she went back to sleep without issue. This really weird behaviour recurred a couple of times, and my baby girl also started waking in the early hours of the morning with cries and moans.
I didn’t think it could be the dark – I mean, she was brave enough to get out of bed and make her way to our room in the pitch black of night. But my husband, who was afraid of the dark as a child, was sure that is was the dark that was unsettling her.
We decided to remove the blackout blind from her window at night, and her strange behaviour stopped, automatically! I think the blind probably made the dark a little too dark; waking up and not being able to see your hand in front of your face is a little disconcerting if not downright horrifying – especially for a small child.
The point of my true tale is that children don’t always make an obvious fuss of their fears. They can’t always articulate what their feelings are; never mind what is provoking those feelings. So we have to play detective some (a lot) of the time – it’s part the guessing game that we all know as ‘parenting’.
If you think (or know) that your child is scared of the dark it’s worth checking out littlechildrenbigdreams.com; a site authored by child psychologist and mum of three, Dr Kaylene Henderson.
Dr Henderson’s daughter (aged 3 at the time) suffered from horrible monster dreams for months, and in desperate need for a solution Dr H developed a personalised story to help her child manage the dreams.
In only a week Dr H’s daughter was free of her monster dreams. Inspired by the success of the story, Dr H wrote a second one to help children who are scared of the dark – the most common night fear affecting children’s sleep.
Little Children Big Dreams offers the two stories (which are personalised with first the name, gender and town/suburb relevant to your child) as well as parent guide to help your child’s fear of the dark or fear of monsters.
The Tale of the Brave Boy/Girl and the Dark Shadows is perfect for young children up to the age of 10 who have a fear of the dark, and The Tale of the Brave Boy/Girl and the Monster is ideal for younger children, aged 2-5 who experience monster dreams and/or a fear of monsters.
The stories, based on cognitive-behavioural, narrative and art therapeutic principles, are a form of therapy. Hopefully they’ll work for your little one!