A couple of years ago, I noticed my son wasn’t sleeping well. He was always awake when I checked on him and he was always cranky. I tried talking to him and finding out what was wrong, but I always got the same answer.
Nothing. Nothing was wrong. But still, he wouldn’t sleep.
Then one day, I finally got the answer. He thought there were ghosts in his room.
He would go to bed at night with the sheet wrapped tightly around his head. I often tried to remove it, but he would keep putting it back again. I wasn’t sleeping well either, constantly worried he wasn’t breathing properly.
Sometimes it would take hours to get him to sleep. It didn’t help that I was about five months pregnant. Every time I got up, I went and checked on him. The whole process was absolutely exhausting.
I did a lot of research, trying to come up with ideas of how to get him past this stage. I tried telling him they didn’t exist, but of course that didn’t work. In his mind, they were real. And there was no convincing him otherwise.
He wanted his light left on at night, which we tried, but he still wouldn’t sleep.
I tried just about everything. His moon night light was his “pew pew” light that would hit anything that came in. His dinosaurs would “Raahhrr” anything away.
Tried telling him the dog’s bed was just outside his window, so nothing could come that way, but that didn’t help either.
We told him that they only existed on television and were made up to tell stories and of course there was that mummy is scarier than anything that could possibly come in.
But none of that really did anything, if at all.
The part I think that helped for me, was when I said ghosts were like tissues – so wipe your bum and flush them down the toilet. We did it and I think it worked or at least helped. I think the act of flushing them away made him feel like he had some control over it.
It took awhile, but gradually I managed to convince him they were friendly and he waved to them, and he started talking about them less.
So, it’s been awhile now since we’ve been visited by the ghosts.
He never really went through being scared of monsters.
Until recently, that is.
Once again I had the signs that my son wasn’t sleeping properly. I could hear him moving around at night, and he would have the sheet over his head in the morning.
I didn’t know if I could go through months of that again. Especially after just getting my daughter sleeping better.
I wanted to nip it in the bud before his overactive imagination went too far and the fear of monsters became ingrained in his brain.
Once again, it took awhile to get it out of him, but he finally told me that he was seeing mouths at night. At first I thought he was going back to seeing the ghosts, but no. The mouths belonged to monsters. Even though he only saw mouths.
I was dreading months and months of no sleep once again but we had a good chat, gave him some “Monster Spray” (I just added a bit of water to an empty spray bottle) and put new batteries in his night light. He hadn’t needed or wanted it in awhile, so when the batteries went flat, we just never replaced them.
It seems to have worked. Pretty much straight away. I haven’t heard him moving around and his head is uncovered when I check on him.
I think it helped a lot this time that I was able to recognise the signs earlier and stop his imagination from getting too carried away. That, and being a bit older might have made it a bit easier.
I’m just hoping these curses of the night decide never to return.
It feels so good when I check on him and he’s sleeping, especially without the sheet tucked around his head. Removing the scary things from their imaginations is hard, and finding something that works will be different for every child.
If your child is going through this, persist and persevere. Try anything you can think of. Something will work eventually.
Here’s what I found helped
Tips for Banishing the Ghosts and Monsters
Talk to your child
It sounds obvious, but they can be very insistent that nothing is wrong and hold things back. Be persistent, but not pushy. The only way to work out a way to help them is to find out what they are scared of.
Have a cuddly toy
Sometimes it helps for them to have a toy to cuddle, usually a favourite that gives them comfort and helps them to feel safe.
Get them a night light
Has to be one of the best things we bought him. A purely dark room can be scary, especially for kids who have an overactive imagination. And a normal light can be way too bright. That bit of light it creates helps them to see that there is nothing there and helps to put their mind at ease.
Make Monster Spray
I actually wish I’d tried this with the ghosts as well and could see if that helped. He liked having the Monster Spray. I’ve only seen him spray it the first night I gave it to him, so I think it definitely helped. You could just add water like I did, or maybe with a few drops of essential oils. You can be decorate the bottle to make it seem more “authentic” if it helps.
Flush the Ghosts or Bin the Monsters
You can make a big deal about rounding the ghosts or monsters up, containing them and ridding them from the house one way or the other.
Sprinkle Fairy Dust
Monsters and ghosts don’t like Fairy Dust, do they? You can get them to sprinkle a bit of whatever you’ve got, cornflour, glitter, sand etc, around their room, and remind them that the ghosts and monsters don’t like it.
Sleep in their Room
Not always the easiest. My husband did this for a few nights which helped him to sleep a bit. It definitely isn’t a long term solution, but a bit of sleep is better than none, and it helped him feel a bit more at ease.
When you’re in the midst of dealing with never getting to sleep, it can be difficult to see the light that is finally getting a decent sleep again. Hopefully you can find something that helps.
Have you had to deal with a child who is scared to sleep at night? What did you find helped?