"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

"I'm scared of the dark!"

Normally, our six-year old daughter is our champion sleeper. She limits last-minute negotiating for water, snacks, more dinner, or trips to the bathroom. She quickly settles into bed, flips through a book, then turns off her light when she's ready for shut-eye.

CasperRecently, though, she has been fighting her sleep, fighting her routine. She cries when her little sister isn't allowed (or doesn't want) to sleep in her upper bunk with her. She protests when we turn of the room lights. She complains if we don't leave both the room light and hallway light on. When I ask her, "What's wrong?" She tells me that her friends at school told her they saw "ghosts". We had a long talk about ghosts the other day: how ghosts can be good or bad, how her friends may not have even really seen ghosts, that she may want to ask her friends about the ghosts tomorrow. For all we know, these ghosts may be the happiest and friendliest Caspers around.

Still, my daughter cries that she's scared of the dark, which is when - apparently - the ghosts come out. Any thoughts on how to help my little sleeper get through this? I may not even be the best help when it comes to the dark: I'm pretty scared of the dark myself.

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Andrew's gone through some cycles like this and for a while he was sleeping with his lamp on. Finally Santa brought him a night light, which you guys may already have. Another thing that works for a 3 yr old but might not for a 6 year old is that I tell him his blanket is his "protective cape" and that while mommy and daddy are protecting him from outside his room, the protective cape will keep him safe from things inside his room. Then I tuck in his protective cape tight and then he doesn't fuss a bit. Usually his fussing comes from his need to spend more cuddle time/time with us, so again, this may not allay your little one's fear of ghosts. Good luck!

I also believed that my sheets had protective powers. I would usually take a flying leap into bed (so that anything under the bed couldn't grab me) and then pull the sheets over my head. I'm 35 and still afraid of the dark.

Aside from further exploring the reason for the fear, I am trying to come up with a creative solution that will help your daughter to get past the fear on her own. I was thinking maybe something like planning a night when you all put out sleeping bags on the floor and have a sleepover party in her room, in the dark, and stay up as late as she can stay awake so that you all can face her fears together. Of course at some point she will most likely fall asleep on her own, and it would go a long way toward showing her that you support her if she wakes up to find you asleep in your bag on her floor with her. You could give her a lot of praise for her bravery, for facing her fears head-on. Of course this could always backfire and she would want you to sleep in her room every night, but something else creative might not only help her, but be fun.

I have done a couple of things in this area, a spray bottle of glitter and water with some essential oil in it as "ghost spray" or monster spray, whatever it repels the scary things.

We have also done more ritual types of things that help the child feel safe, powerful and protected. Draw or make a collage of safe things or peaceful things, then we sprinkled salt around the bed and that only let the love in, stuff like that.

I haven't faced this challenge yet with our kids, but a friend of mine had a special broom for sweeping the monsters/ghosts/what have yous away. It helped her little ones.

these are such great ideas! i'm putting them all in my pocket - thank you mamas! we do a visualization as part of our sleep ritual. my daughter's "special place" is the beach. so we talk about the beach emphasizing all the senses so she can really "be" there - it's where she can go in her dreams if she feels scared, etc or if she just wants to go to the beach. this seems to have calmed her anxiety (for now!) also, our prayer at night says, "this is a house of love" so i echo what deb said about protective barriers - be they energetic or what have you. i think it's a powerful tool. i swear my daughter could see things that i couldnt see - maybe she knows about ghosts?

We took a spray bottle and filled it with water and a few drops of lavender oil (any nice-smelling oil will work). I hear tell that ghosts, goblins, and ghoulies do NOT LIKE nice smells. We labeled it 'monster be gone' and my daughter sprayed it wherever she felt it was needed before bed. It helped.

I have a 3 year old who has always been sleep-challenged. The biggest help was Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's (sp?) book "Sleepless in America". Since little sister was born her sleep issues became overwhelming...with patience I've finally (7 mo's later) got her back to mostly sleeping through the night. The most important thing is to make sure that going to sleep is peaceful--often I just give her what she asks for (light on? sure. sleep with toy train? sure...). She also went through a ghost thing (thanks to older cousin) & I found that books that talk about girls who make friends with ghosts/monsters help. The Monsters Inc movie was helpful because the monsters are scared of the girl. Also, try the "how to talk so children will listen & how to listen so children will talk" advice: just let her talk about it--don't look for a solution cause she'll find it on her own. Just help her name her feelings & fears. It will go away with time...

i have a 5 yaer old that has not waken up for 5 year and i dont know what wrong with her and she is not moving only every 5 minutres and she is an good sleeper and one day i wish to be just like her on the way home i saw her moving and she onlly just wake up for the first time in 5 year's and i feel really happy

I'm not a mom I'm only 12. But, I'm just scared of the dark. I have a very over-active imagination and I always hear things that aren't what I think they are,but I must mention that I do sleep in the basement of my house. I am also alone down there every night. I also cannot stop watching horror films, it is like I am addicted to them...it is like my muse. Horror is my muse.

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