have you dealt with this? almost 3 year old TERRIFIED of her bed (monsters) - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > have you dealt with this? almost 3 year old TERRIFIED of her bed (monsters)
ekh's Avatar ekh 06:02 PM 02-02-2011

Our almost 3 year old was awakened out of a deep sleep by our cat scratching at her bed. she woke up screaming, telling us there were monsters under her blanket. sounds funny, but she was completely undone, shaking and screaming for 45 minutes. she cowered in the corner of our bed, staring out the door, waiting for the monster to come again. she did not fall asleep again. 

we explained about the cat and that there are no monsters, etc. she seemed fine when i dropped her off at the babysitter's and also seemed to understand that it was the cat. 

BUT, last night, she WOULD NOT get in her bed. she stood next to it, sobbing, telling us she wasn't tired and that she didn't like her bed. she finally fell asleep in my husband's arms but woke repeatedly throughout the night, again crying and not wanting to be in the bed. (she also didn't want to sleep in our bed, or anywhere else. she never falls asleep alone, btw.) we finally got her to stay in the bed by giving her a pillow to perch upon and with no blanket. 

and, tonight, my stepmother was buckling her into the car, and she told her that there are monsters in her bed. my stepmother assured her that they were gone, to which she answered, "They'll be back." 

SO, what can we do to help her with her terror? it's very real to her, clearly. we're all exhausted!



puddle's Avatar puddle 07:30 PM 02-02-2011

My 3-year-old had some sort of crazy nightmare where her closet door shrank.  She was absolutely terrified of going to sleep in her room in case the door shrank again.  I acknowledged her feelings (You're really scared that the door will shrink again!) and tried to explain that it wasn't happening for real--just in her dreams.  I'm not sure she really completely grasped that so the explanation wasn't very helpful.  I told her lots of stories about her falling asleep, the door shrinking (or window, fan, whatever she picked, etc) and then her doing a magic wiggle dance to make it go back to the right size.  She helped me make up the story formula and then wanted me to tell it OVER AND OVER AND OVER again.  Whenever she was afraid, I would remind her that if the door shrank again, she could just do her magic wiggle dance to fix it.  Eventually she got over it. 


Trinitty's Avatar Trinitty 02:59 PM 02-07-2011

Hello,

It has been a very long time since I have posted on MDC. :) Busy with the bubba.

That's so sad that she was so scared, I know how awful that is.

What about having a little ceremony that sends the monsters away?

One that she can participate in? 

This has worked for a dear friend of mine, whose DD (3) was scared of monsters and bad dreams in general, not caused by a specific noise. 

This way, you really hear her on her fear (as you have been doing so well) and she gets to feel powerful.

Are there customs in your culture that would be useful? Lighting a candle, burning sweetgrass, spreading special water, that sort of thing?

Do it on a nice and sunny day when she is most engaged.

That's what I would do.  My DD is the same age.

Good luck!

Trin.


kittykat2481's Avatar kittykat2481 08:22 PM 02-07-2011

I love the magic wiggly dance. :) I posted on here once a story about our 3 year old constantly "getting stuck", as if his feet were magnetically drawn to the center of the earth and he was unable to move. My husband grabbed the first thing handy - a leather business card holder - and thus the magic wallet was born. A few weeks later I picked up a silver jingle bell necklace, wrapped it in glittery silver paper, and presented DS with a "magic necklace" (presumably easier to keep up with than the wallet) and he wanted nothing to do with it. For some reason all the glitter in the world didn't have the magic of Daddy's wallet.

 

Could you maybe find something that's magic to DD? Maybe something new? A magic unicorn pillow pet? Or maybe something special of Mommy or Daddy's that keeps the monsters out of THEIR room? A handkerchief? Special pillow?

 

I remember being very young (although maybe older than 3) and having the most terrible recurring nightmare that snakes were crawling out of my Strawberry Shortcake toy box in my bedroom. Talk about vivid... I can still remember it. My mom told me to think happy thoughts before I fell asleep, and I would have happy dreams. I remember laying in bed, eyes closed tight and thinking with all my might "Rainbow Bright, Rainbow Bright, Rainbow Bright." It was the happiest thing I could easily visualize. How can you be happier than rainbows? :p In any case, it must have worked, because to this day (I'm 30) if I'm spooked or trying to fall back to sleep after a bad dream, I visualize Rainbow Bright. lol


meemee's Avatar meemee 03:13 AM 02-08-2011

we had monster be gone perfume. i made it wierd smelling to make it more authentic. spray bottle with essential oil and vinegar and water. 

 

my friends gpa was the monster scaring guy. he'd take the child out of the room and then be in teh room by himself. he'd go in with a broom and bucket. and make quite a racket. he'd scare the monsters away.

 

i also taught my dd how to protect herself. help her figure out what kept her safe. we tried all sorts of things - her fav. was that she came up with was locking herself in a giant rainbow bubble during nightmares. 

 

btw this is really age appropriate. its an emotional and intellectual growth spurt reaction. they are becoming more aware of the world but not understanding why things are how they are. 


DidiToo's Avatar DidiToo 11:15 AM 02-08-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

we had monster be gone perfume. i made it wierd smelling to make it more authentic. spray bottle with essential oil and vinegar and water. 

 

my friends gpa was the monster scaring guy. he'd take the child out of the room and then be in teh room by himself. he'd go in with a broom and bucket. and make quite a racket. he'd scare the monsters away.

 

i also taught my dd how to protect herself. help her figure out what kept her safe. we tried all sorts of things - her fav. was that she came up with was locking herself in a giant rainbow bubble during nightmares. 

 

btw this is really age appropriate. its an emotional and intellectual growth spurt reaction. they are becoming more aware of the world but not understanding why things are how they are. 


I also got rid of the monsters with monster-spray.  Make sure to get under the beds, in the closet, in the air ducts and anywhere else in the room where monsters congregate.  DS1's monsters went to live with the neighbors, where they were tragically eaten by the neighbors' dog. 
 


kittykat2481's Avatar kittykat2481 05:04 PM 02-08-2011


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DidiToo View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

we had monster be gone perfume. i made it wierd smelling to make it more authentic. spray bottle with essential oil and vinegar and water. 

 

my friends gpa was the monster scaring guy. he'd take the child out of the room and then be in teh room by himself. he'd go in with a broom and bucket. and make quite a racket. he'd scare the monsters away.

 

i also taught my dd how to protect herself. help her figure out what kept her safe. we tried all sorts of things - her fav. was that she came up with was locking herself in a giant rainbow bubble during nightmares. 

 

btw this is really age appropriate. its an emotional and intellectual growth spurt reaction. they are becoming more aware of the world but not understanding why things are how they are. 


I also got rid of the monsters with monster-spray.  Make sure to get under the beds, in the closet, in the air ducts and anywhere else in the room where monsters congregate.  DS1's monsters went to live with the neighbors, where they were tragically eaten by the neighbors' dog. 
 

 

Haha, this reminds me... When my sisters and I were kids my sister was scared of a possum that lived around our house so my mom told her he went to live at Denny's. I guess this possum liked pancakes. lol
 


hakeber's Avatar hakeber 05:20 PM 02-08-2011

At DidiToo:ROTFLMAO.gif 

 

 

We also did monster sprays.  I made a label for the bottle with a picture of all his various monsters (crabs, sharks, whales, spiders, snakes, zombies and THE monster) in one of those red circles with a line through the middle.  It was just water, but I would spray him all over like bug repelant and the spray in the corners and everywhere sneaky and just out in the hall as well.  We did this every night from 3.5-4 yo and then periodically thereafter.  He out grew it.

 

I like the idea of the rainbow bubble...CUTE!


shanniesue2's Avatar shanniesue2 07:13 PM 02-10-2011

My almost 3 yo DS is going through a huge monster phase, but in kind of a silly way... he started talking about it in a silly way, and I didn't/don't want it to turn into a scary thing for him... so we started playing silly monster games (i.e. tickle monster, hug monster, kissy monster, etc)... where in I do whatever that monster does.... so I might start being the kissy monster and give him kisses all over... and what he does during a monster "attack" is give me a big "RAWR!"  And immediately, I squeal and jump away.  It's become a really funny game for him, and he'll ask to play the "monster game."  And I've started seeing him address "monster" in the same way that another kid might address an imaginary friend.  He's even tucked "monster" into bed with him and told him goodnight.

 

I know that my DS's situation is way different.... but the whole "RAWR" game I came up with so that he has a way to "get rid" of the monsters if they ever do start to scare him.  I'm hoping that treating monsters this way gives him power over them... if that makes any sense.

 

Basically, I agree with the other pp's about coming up with some sort of ritual that she can use that will scare the monsters away.  And I don't know if it's too late for your DD at this point, but I really think that if you can turn monsters into something silly that she will feel like she has even more power over them...ykim?  Although, since she is already scared of them, that may come off as not honoring her feelings about it... so turning monsters into a game may not work in your situation.


ekh's Avatar ekh 05:08 AM 02-12-2011

Thank you for the responses. Bedtime has gotten ever so slightly better, every night. She still won't sleep under the blanket, but she will get in the bed and has started asking to go to bed when she's tired again.

My mom and sister tried the "routine about monsters" by telling her there was a box that the monsters could go in.  I had mixed feelings about this because if I'm interacting with the "monsters", I'm telling her that the monsters ARE there. I want her to know that they are not real, and that it was the cat. She seems to understand that, and even told the cat not to scratch on her bed again, but she's still a bit afraid. In any case, she did ask me to put the monsters in the box one night, and I did, and she was pleased.

Before this incident, monsters were fun for her and her little sister (the baby monster) did a lot of growling. The fun monsters are not associated with the bed monsters, though, for sure. 

  


hakeber's Avatar hakeber 04:40 PM 02-12-2011

I used to feel the same way about the monsters and DH does too, but for him they really really were REAL, so my denying it and trying to show him that they were not real and that for instance whales could NOT come and bothers us in the mountains did not convince him and made him feel even more insecure because we weren't believing him.  They were very very real to him and all the denials in the world, all the grown up logical explanations I gave him only made him more scared, because he could see the monsters and I couldn't, which meant I couldn't protect him from them.

 

Somehow by admitting they were real to him and talking to them, it made it him so feel much safer.  Now we were on his side AND we were on the look out and ready to pounce should there be an attack in the night.

 

It felt silly, but he really felt so much better when I believed him, even if I don't believe in monsters.


hakeber's Avatar hakeber 04:43 PM 02-12-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by ekh View Post

Before this incident, monsters were fun for her and her little sister (the baby monster) did a lot of growling. The fun monsters are not associated with the bed monsters, though, for sure. 

  



 I think this part especially might be freaky for her because if you went along with the fun monsters and now you don't believe in the scary monsters, that doesn't mean monsters don't exist in little person logic, it means the bad monsters are invisible to grown ups, and that means they can hurt them when you are sleeping and you'll never know.


A&A's Avatar A&A 05:01 PM 02-12-2011

When my ds went through this phase, I got an empty spray bottle and told him it was special "monster spray" to make the monsters go away and stay away.  So he "sprayed" his room (with empty air, but he didn't realize it was empty) every night before bed.  It worked like a charm.

 


shanniesue2's Avatar shanniesue2 06:42 PM 02-12-2011

I don't think that you have to admit that monsters are real in order to acknowledge that they are real to HER.

 

I don't talk about this very much because it's kind of embarassing, but even as an adult, I sometimes have some very real night time fears... mostly surrounding ghosts and other supernatural sorts of things.  Any time I've ever said anything about it to anyone, they always tell me there's no such thing.  Of course, this never works to soothe my fears... the only thing it really does is make me feel stupid and ridiculous... so then, I'm not only dealing with the fear, but also with embarassment surrounding the fear.  Rationalizing my way out of the fear doesn't work because the fear isn't rational, if that makes any sense at all... And honestly, the more I try to convince myself that what I'm afraid of doesn't exist, the more my fear works to prove that it does...

 

Now, I don't think that a 3 year old is going to understand the situation in these terms, but this is basically why I don't think that it's helpful to try and convince children that the subjects of their fears aren't real.  I think that instead, it's important to validate the fear (i.e. wow, DS, that would be scary.  I'm sorry that you feel so afraid) and then follow up with a tool that she can use to overcome the fear (i.e. "you know what I have in my drawer?  I have a special secret monster spray.  And when you spray it, all the scary things run away b/c they think it stinks so bad.  Do you want some monster spray to keep in your room?" or whatever you think would be helpful in dealing with this fear)  I think that eventually, she will come to realize that monsters aren't real all on her own... plus she will feel empowered to face and overcome other fears that might pop up


DidiToo's Avatar DidiToo 12:13 PM 02-14-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by ekh View Post

Thank you for the responses. Bedtime has gotten ever so slightly better, every night. She still won't sleep under the blanket, but she will get in the bed and has started asking to go to bed when she's tired again.

My mom and sister tried the "routine about monsters" by telling her there was a box that the monsters could go in.  I had mixed feelings about this because if I'm interacting with the "monsters", I'm telling her that the monsters ARE there. I want her to know that they are not real, and that it was the cat. She seems to understand that, and even told the cat not to scratch on her bed again, but she's still a bit afraid. In any case, she did ask me to put the monsters in the box one night, and I did, and she was pleased.

Before this incident, monsters were fun for her and her little sister (the baby monster) did a lot of growling. The fun monsters are not associated with the bed monsters, though, for sure. 

  


I learned that it was useless to try to convince DS1 that monsters did not exist.  When I sprayed his room for monsters, though, I think he kind of got that we were dealing with something imaginary.  It helped him to control the imaginary world that seemed so real to him.

 

Anyway, I believed in monsters as a kid, and I later believed they weren't real.  Now I know they are real; the problem is that they walk around on two legs, looking like the rest of us.
 


Btlit13's Avatar Btlit13 09:06 PM 02-14-2011

No sure if someone mentioned this already, but have you tried 'monster spray'?

You buy a special new spray bottle (one she hasn't seen) and write "Monster Spray" on it and fill it with scented water. You can use water with some essential oil in it, or you can just take some linen spray (like Fabreeze) and pour it in there with a little water to dilute it.

Then you just spray it wherever the monsters are.

With my niece we made a magic "go away" wand because it was ghosts AND monsters for her. The wand would take care of anything scary, she could just keep it by her bed, wave her wand in the direction of anything scary and say "go away." That kinda gave her ownership of defeating the 'scaries,' which I think she liked.

It's tricky at this age because you don't want to lie and pretend the monsters are real in order to get rid of them, but yet you want her to really think you're getting rid of them!

My daughter sleeps with us, so she hasn't had those issues. Not sure if you're interested in going down that road though :)


puddle's Avatar puddle 11:19 AM 02-15-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by Btlit13 View Post

My daughter sleeps with us, so she hasn't had those issues. Not sure if you're interested in going down that road though :)

 

I sleep with my daughter and she still had her bizarre shrinking door fear.  Sometimes I wonder if co-sleeping makes the nightmares harder to deal with, because she can't just come climb in bed with me to feel safe for a few nights.  She knows the scary things can happen even with Mommy right there...


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