Rollo (represented in a life-sized plush replica) along with his Bedtime ‘Monster Manual’(the hardcover book) wasn’t born to simply entertain and play. He and the rest of his fellow NightSprytes came into this world with a mission: to scare, all who dare, to go BUMP in the night. Or, in laymen’s terms, NightSprytes were created to protect children from the monsters that already scare them.
We all know imaginary bedtime fears pervade the daily, or nightly, lives of many children across the world, but when you look at the actual numbers from today’s experts, it’s quite surprising. From WebMD, “Childhood fears are a common experience, but a new study of children shows that nearly 50% exhibit symptoms of anxiety.”1
And while such fear has for some time been associated only with children ages 2-5, Professor Patricia Sheets, of the U of Alabama at Birmingham, teaches, "Nighttime fear….is a normal developmental stage that goes on much longer than parents expect, up until at least age 8 or 9." 2
So, the number of kids that dread hearing “It’s Bedtime!” announced each night is larger than once thought, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. “Early childhood fears, ‘according to William Bernet, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University’ are a normal part of each child’s development and may even signal a leap in cognitive abilities.”3
It is good news that the professionals agree that this is a normal stage of childhood, and that it may, in fact, even provide parents with a good sign of cognitive development, but none of this offers any comfort or security to the numerous scared kids out there.
Fortunately, when Sweet Dreams™ examined the great variety of remedies offered by those in the field of pediatric psychology and development, we found three simple ideas that they almost all agree should be used in concert with one another until your child grows out of this stage.
1. Don’t Dismiss the Fear – EMPOWER your kids
“Recognize that the fear is real. As trivial as a fear may seem, it feels real to your child and it's causing him or her to feel anxious and afraid.” 4 It is especially important to, “Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing your child to overcome it. Telling your child, ‘Don't be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!’ may get your child to go to bed, but it won't make the fear go away.”5
“OK, so in reality monsters don't live inside the closet. They still, however, are found in the dreams. But give a child an empowering image, and he just might be able to chase that monster away,” says Alan B. Siegel, a California psychologist and author of ‘Dreamcatching: Every Parent's Guide to Exploring and Understanding Children's Dreams and Nightmares.’
- The Washington Times 6
Here are the second and third prongs of the solution, summed up best as suggested by the
American Academy of Pediatrics3 :
2. “Establish a pleasant routine that may include reading, singing…” 7
Dr. Bernet notes, “a regular evening bedtime routine can help. Brush teeth, read a gentle bedtime story until the child becomes drowsy,” 8 and the folks at parentcernter.com agree when they suggest ,“a gentle story or a few poems.” 9
3. Allow your child to take a favorite ‘comforting object’ to bed each night…
…like a safe plush toy. “Such comforting objects often help children fall asleep -especially if they awaken during the middle of the night.10
Again, parentcenter.com concurs, “Encouraging your grade-schooler to sleep with a beloved toy or blanket (reminding her she's not too old for this) may help, too.”11