Dealing with 4.5 yr old fears - Mothering Forums
Gentle Discipline > Dealing with 4.5 yr old fears
Sungold17's Avatar Sungold17 01:33 AM 02-20-2009
This has been going on for so long. Garrett is constantly scared of dinosaurs, "bad guys," the dark, monsters, etc, etc.

I am very frustrated with it. I know he really is scared a lot of times. But he has also admitted to saying he is scared to get out of going to bed. Bedtime is a real fight and struggle. My husband doesn't help much with bedtime and I'm usually at the end of my rope by that time. So its a real struggle and I've resorted to saying things like "you aren't scared, you are just lying." which is I feel horrible for saying (but he has admitted to saying he is saying he is scared because he doesn't want to go to bed.)

At the same time I know he is often really scared. He will close the blinds in the living room during the day because he is scared of dinosaurs. He won't go to his room or sometimes even the bathroom by himself (and we have a really small house- its not that far away!) He doesn't want to go outside or if he is playing with friends and they get too far away he gets scared. When he opens the front door when we are going somewhere he will peek outside to see if there are dinosaurs. I don't know what to say or do to help him. And its frustrating for me because he doesn't won't even go to his room to play.

And...its confusing because I know he really is scared. But I sometimes see him totally turn it on and use it as an excuse. This happens mostly at bed time but sometimes happens during the day.

Any suggestions?

fritz's Avatar fritz 12:50 PM 02-21-2009
Empower him.

Just last week, my almost-4 year old pointed at the end of the hall and said he was scared. We finally got him to say he was scared of the dinosaurs in the wall. My DH turned on the hall light, said he didn't see any dinosaurs, and asked DS to show him where they were. DS pointed to a spot about head high on the wall and said they were behind the wall. (DH and I exchanged one of those, where did that come from looks.)

First, DH turned on the two bedroom lights, then he showed DS that there was another wall behind it in one bedroom, and the closet was behind the dinosaur wall in the other bedroom. He was trying logic to say that no dinosaurs could fit in the small wall. DS was still scared. DH thought for a second and proclaimed that DS needed a flashlight to fight the dinosaurs. Off they went to grab the flashlight. DS turned it on and shined it on the dinosaur spot while DH made various sound effects. For the coup de grace, DS gently hit the wall with the flashlight, and DH cheered at DS's victory over the dreaded dinosaurs. Afterwards it was clear DS had really enjoyed being empowered to take care of the dinos on his own. He's done the flashlight thing once more this week so far.

Other remedies that might work are monster/dinosaur spray (can be plain water in a little spray bottle), or having your DS change into his superhero persona (you know, when he's invincible), or a magic wand (my DS's magic wand of choice is any one of my 6 colorful crochet hooks).... Or make up a special song he can sing to scare away the dinosaurs?

I'm assuming you've already tried using a nightlight, and looking under the bed/in the closet for dinos is part of your bedtime routine?
foreverinbluejeans's Avatar foreverinbluejeans 11:35 PM 02-21-2009
Why have a bedtime? Let the kids go to bed when they are sleepy. There was no problems with my oldest two. My youngest son had to go to bed if it was dark out and he was bothering anyone. It only took once or twice of going to bed alone for him to figure out it was a good idea to be calm after dark. Sometimes I would have to remind him it was dark out.
Sungold17's Avatar Sungold17 01:29 AM 02-22-2009
We don't have a set bed time. But my son gets very wound up when he is tired and almost hyperactive. some nights he goes to bed easily but usually he fights it.

fritz- thanks for the suggestions. I feel like we have tried a lot of the typical approaches to dealing with it. I will keep trying though. I think your spray bottle idea is an interesting one.