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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My almost 4yo ds is afraid of the dark and afraid of being alone in a room even when it's light out. Even though we all sleep in the same bed and we all go to bed together, he still says he's scared in bed with me. I'm not too concerned about his fearfulness. I figure it's a stage he's going through, possibly a little more pronounced than usual because his dad is deployed and has been gone a long time. When asked, he says he's not scared when daddy is home.<br><br>
What I need help with is validating his feelings about being afraid without making them worse or dismissing them. Anyone have any ideas?
 

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I don't have any real suggestions but I wanted to say that it's great that you're concerned about not wanting to exacerbate his fear.<br><br>
The only thing I recommend is talking with your child about why he's afraid of the dark. I still have an irrational fear of the dark and think monsters (be they movie monsters like zombies or real monsters like rapists) are going to jump out and get me. This all stemmed from when I was around 7 or 8 years old and the babysitter let me stay up late with her to watch horror movies. Hopefully talking about the why will help erase some of his fears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, we do talk about what and why he's afraid, if he knows. The problem is I don't know where to go from there. If I try to tell him monsters don't exist or are just pretend, for example, then I'm dismissing the fact that he is really afraid. What I do tell him is that I'm there and I won't leave him. I'm sure that makes him feel better than if he were left alone but I get the sense it doesn't really make him feel any safer. I actually just read a little about this last night in the book I'm reading right now. The author said, "You are afraid of the dark. The dark can be scary when we can't see what's there," or something like that.
 

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Maybe it be worth while talking about his Daddy?<br><br>
Sounds like maybe the fear of the dark is masking the fact that he's scared because Daddy has gone away, and may not come back?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Learning_Mum</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9845791"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Maybe it be worth while talking about his Daddy?<br><br>
Sounds like maybe the fear of the dark is masking the fact that he's scared because Daddy has gone away, and may not come back?</div>
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That's a hard one. When I talk about Daddy it's in the context that he's gone to work. I don't think a 3yo is old enough to understand Daddy going off to war. We do talk about Daddy being gone, though, and that he will come home. He came home for a 2 week visit in September/October. This has been an extra long deployment, a year instead of the usual 6-7 months. It's been long and hard.
 

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Have you given him any tools to get rid of the monsters? We tell my 3 year old that if she roars at them they'll go away. Sometimes she needs to roar several times but it usually works.<br><br>
Good luck. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> Hopefully when Daddy comes home the monsters will go away.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>elmh23</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9847265"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Have you given him any tools to get rid of the monsters? We tell my 3 year old that if she roars at them they'll go away. Sometimes she needs to roar several times but it usually works.<br><br>
Good luck. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> Hopefully when Daddy comes home the monsters will go away.</div>
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I second this. I gave my dd sweet dream dust (silver glitter) when she was having nightmares and it helped. We used green glitter as monster repellent<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My dh suggested that. He said he'd go monster hunting with ds when he gets home. I'm not very creative or imaginative when comes to stuff like that. I appreciate you giving me actual ideas and examples.
 

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We make Monster Spray, which is a squirt bottle with water and lavender oil. DD drew a picture of the monster on the bottle and then we crossed him out. We spray all over before bedtime. That said, she's recently gone from sleeping in her own bed/room all night to joining me about halfway through the night. She'll be 5 in February. Several kids in her preschool class are back in the parents' bed, I figure it's an age/development thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>april77</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9852162"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">she's recently gone from sleeping in her own bed/room all night to joining me about halfway through the night. She'll be 5 in February. Several kids in her preschool class are back in the parents' bed, I figure it's an age/development thing.</div>
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Yes, I think a lot of it is an ages and stages thing. That's one thing I always chuckle about when parents say that co-sleeping with a baby means you'll never have your bed to yourself again. Even parents who put baby in a crib in a separate room from the beginning usually find themselves with their older child in bed with them at least part of the time.
 

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I did an ages and stages story on this for a Canadian magazine:<br><a href="http://www.dianeselkirk.com/PDFs/Canadian%20Family%20Banishing%20beasties.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.dianeselkirk.com/PDFs/Can...20beasties.pdf</a><br>
The experts I spoke with said monster spray and things like that can actually reinforce the fear in some kids - ie if I need a spray, they must be real.<br>
Basically they said it's a stage and the steps are to talk it out (or draw lots of pictures) then face the fear in their own way and own time.<br>
good luck!
 

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Do you use a nightlight? DS started saying he was scared, and a nightlight helped. He's said he's afraid of monsters because some big kids told him about them (grr). I told him that monsters aren't real, and he was okay with that.<br><br>
I will say, though, that I'm still afraid of a completely dark room. It stems from a childhood trauma, but I've never been able to get over it, so I'm probably more relaxed about being afraid of the dark than most. For me, I know it's irrational, and I've tried lots of methods to get rid of the fears. I just can't, and I've learned to live with it.<br><br>
The biggest thing I think is not to force the lights out if he's afraid. Some people (my husband, lol) believe that if you can stay in the dark room, you'll eventually realize there's nothing to fear. He used to try to convince me of this because he had trouble sleeping with a light on, but I can't. The dark just heightens the anxiety, and I've known some parents who are terrible with making the kids turn out the lights anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
We have a nightlight. I'm definitely not one to force my child to be in the dark if he's afraid. I'm also not concerned about the fact that he's afraid right now. I just want to find ways to respond to his fear with feeding it or negating it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I picked up a book at the library entitled, <i>Seven Scary Monsters</i>. DS really wanted to read it and even had me read it to him at the library before we got it. After we read it at home a couple of times my ds said he didn't like it because it scared him so we stopped reading it. Then this morning he picked it up and read it to himself (he can't really read but he repeated what he remembered). Later he told me he wasn't afraid of monsters anymore. Tonight when we went to bed he only asked me once if a noise was a monster. He never once said he was scared like he usually does.
 
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