Children may experience night terrors at some stage of their development. If this situation is not managed properly, some problems may arise for both the family and the child.
What are the ways to overcome night fear in children, what do experts recommend? Let’s get into the details!
What is night fear?
Night fear is when the child has difficulty falling asleep, is afraid of the dark, and does not want to go to bed alone because he has nightmares, or wakes up with screams.
What causes night terrors in children?
exp. Ps. From. Özlem Mumcuoğlu says that the period when children ask the most questions and develop their abstraction skills is 3-6 years old. While this development, which is reflected in the imagination of children, enriches their world, it can also lead to the emergence of new fears. For this reason, night fears are mostly seen in the 3-6 age period.
Especially when children are alone with their own feelings and thoughts, they may experience night fears because it is usually time to sleep. At the beginning of the night fears in children is the fear of the dark. A 4-year-old child experiences night terrors mostly because of the fear of the dark, while at the age of 6, abstract concepts such as monsters and ghosts are more effective. We can list the reasons that cause the child to be afraid at night as follows:
- Hearing clicks and noises,
- Images watched on television and computer,
- Monsters and ghosts seen in cartoons,
- Watching horror movies
- Telling each other horror stories with their friends,
- Being constantly worried
- One of the parents is worried
- Incorrect parental behavior.
What symptoms do children have night terrors?
- The onset of the child’s fear of sleeping alone,
- Prolongation of falling asleep
- fear of the dark,
- Not wanting to go to the room
- Difficulty sleeping if parents are not at home
- To want parents with him until he falls asleep,
- Frequent interruption of sleep at night
- Waking up at night and wanting to sleep with mom and dad,
- Intense stubbornness and crying attacks when the request to sleep with the mother and father is rejected may indicate the onset of night fears.
What should be the parent’s attitude towards night fear in children?
- An unplanned separation, long-term hospital treatment and conflict environments can cause night fear in babies. Children are affected by such stressful periods. Teeth grinding, tantrums and sleep disturbances can also be seen at such times. What you need to do is stay calm and provide a safe and peaceful environment for your child as soon as possible.
- Being able to empathize with your child is very important. First of all, you should show your child that you understand by saying “I know you are afraid” instead of approaching them as “There is nothing to be afraid of”.
- Show your child that you can solve problems together. You can gradually go over the factors that cause night terrors together.
- You shouldn’t underestimate what your child is going through. You shouldn’t criticize or make fun of him because of his fears.
- Being afraid at night can cause children not to want to sleep in their own beds. He may think that the child will be safer when he sleeps with you. In such situations, it is important that you try to understand his feelings and show him understanding.
What can be done to help the child overcome night fears?
In this process, the more developed the child’s ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, the better he can express himself and the easier it will be for him to overcome this situation. exp. Ps. From. Özlem Mumcuoğlu gives the following advice on overcoming the child’s fears:
- Painting works are very useful for night terrors. Since the pictures that children draw during these periods are very cute, they have a lot of fun when they draw a picture of a monster or a witch. His fears are greatly reduced when he realizes how cute the thing that makes him wake up in the night with fear is actually.
- Make yourself a monster spray. The bottle can be made more interesting by filling a chemical-free spray bottle with water and putting grass, colored and plastic things in it. Whatever the child is afraid of (bogeyman, witch, monster) say that when he uses this spray, the monsters will run away. Spray together this spray all over the child’s room before they go to bed. In case of nightmares, leave the spray by the bedside so that the child can use the spray. This method works very well.
- Engage your pet. 🙂 Some parents assign the pet in the house to protect the child from what scares the child at night. At night, while the dog or cat is doing their usual tour around the house, the child feels safe and can sleep peacefully.