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To struggle not to lose it when 5 yr old is scared at bedtime?

(139 Posts)
Yomammasapyjama Tue 15-Oct-19 20:59:40

Every night he has me up and down the stairs because he is scared - of monsters, or things he's seen on TV (I don't let him watch anything inappropriate), or just imaginary stuff. I was sympathetic at first because I know it's perfectly normal for a kid to be frightened at bedtime and of course I don't want him to feel like that. But I've tried everything and I'm starting to lose patience and I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I tell him off.

We've tried talking about his fears, promising him that monsters aren't real, that we would never let anything happen to him, leaving the light on, extra cuddles/kisses etc. But BT is taking between 1-2 hrs every night.

Thing is, while I do believe he is frightened, sometimes he just snaps out of it, just like that - and I wonder if he's enjoying the attention.

I do think he's genuinely scared though... what can I do to help him? I really dread BT at the moment.

Iggly Tue 15-Oct-19 21:00:27

Just sit with him until he falls asleep. Works better than up and down. Minimal attention. Maybe sit in the hallway and read a book.

Yomammasapyjama Tue 15-Oct-19 21:12:18

But what about rod and back and all that??

Lllot5 Tue 15-Oct-19 21:14:15

Is he scared? Or is he playing up? I think it depends on that as to what you do.

GettingABitDesperateNow Tue 15-Oct-19 21:14:48

Tell him you'll go and check on him every 10 min and increase the time between visits. Give him something of yours to cuddle? Get a 2 way baby monitor so you can reassure him you are listening and will be there if there is a problem? Read a book about overcoming fears before bedtime? Try a soothing audio book? Make sure he isn't watching anything scary, my daughter loves traditional fairy tales but they're actually quite dark. I had to show her a map of the uk and explain wolves can't swim to reassure her that no wolves were going to come and get her.

Eminybob Tue 15-Oct-19 21:16:22

Dh reads to 5 yo ds and then lies with him until he’s asleep. He’s fast asleep in 10 mins max.
I don’t understand the rod for your back thing, wouldn’t you rather make your life easier now? Plus it’s hardly a hardship even if you do have to do it long term.

Branleuse Tue 15-Oct-19 21:16:28

hes 5. Hes tiny. Has he just started school properly?

There is no such thing as a rod for your own back with stuff like this. Some people never like sleeping alone for their whole life, and other people are fine with it. Can he sleep in your room if hes scared?
Or maybe can he have the radio or an audiobook on?

Yomammasapyjama Tue 15-Oct-19 21:18:27

He is scared but I think sometimes some playing up is involved. And it's hard to tell when.
He's got a scarf of mine he cuddles in bed. I've tried telling him I'll check on him. I try not to let him watch anything frightening but sometimes he'll see something random in an ad or something that he sees as scary.

Jollitwiglet Tue 15-Oct-19 21:20:25

Have you tried a monster spray? A water spray bottle that you can decorate and spray at bedtime to keep the monsters away

HT85 Tue 15-Oct-19 21:20:28

He is 5 years old and you are his parent hmm Jesus wept. It might be exhausting but he isn’t doing it to wind you up, why can’t you just stay with him until he falls asleep? He’s not going to be asking you to do it when it’s at university/married. Rod for your own back bulls**t strikes again.

earlynightneeded Tue 15-Oct-19 21:21:05

How about an empty spray bottle?? Fill with water and lavender oil or something and write monster deterrent on the bottle and spray itnround the room at bed time.

Or how about a worry monster?? Or whatever they're called. They're little teddy bears with a zip that you can write down on a bit of paper what you're scared about and the worry monster eats it away x

drspouse Tue 15-Oct-19 21:21:45

If you sit with him you can gradually retreat and sit a bit further away etc.

Yomammasapyjama Tue 15-Oct-19 21:22:31

I suppose I'm a bit worried that if there is a bit of playing up going on and I do stuff like stay upstairs with him he'll start to take advantage and we'll end up with an increasingly elaborate bedtime routine. I remember my mum used to have to stay with my brother while he fell asleep and she would be sat on his bed every night for at least an hour and a half and it carried on for years....

Krisskrosskiss Tue 15-Oct-19 21:24:32

I'm of the school of 'dont be silly it's not real' and then eyes down dont engage further. Shut the door etc
Unless they are genuinely scared or crying... My son is 4 and he sometimes tries to talk at bedtime about scary things... often it's a way of trying to engage so that it draws out bedtime rather than genuine fear. I think kids can sometime sort of talk themselves into it to try and get your attention for longer.. so it is sort of real but they've done it to themselves. I try to give as little attention as possible to it and ignore ot where possible.
During the day I'm fine with having discussions about what things are or things hes seen... but at bedtime after lights out it's one word answers from me. I know that 99% of it is just about trying to draw out bedtime.

FelixFelicis6 Tue 15-Oct-19 21:24:38

Rather than just staying with him every night I would come up with tactics to built his resilience as well as comforting him. Saying you’ll come up and check on him every 10 minutes is good, I’m sure others will come up with others too

Yomammasapyjama Tue 15-Oct-19 21:25:01

Please. I'm not perfect. None of us is. But some posts are making me feel terrible. 🥺

changedtempforprivacy Tue 15-Oct-19 21:25:14

Has he just started school? I'm spending 90 minutes lying next to my reception child getting her to fall's frustrating as no evening for me, but I tell myself it won't be forever...

Yomammasapyjama Tue 15-Oct-19 21:26:06

Krisskrosskriss - yes, exactly what you've said!

FelixFelicis6 Tue 15-Oct-19 21:26:09

But definitely acknowledge his feelings and say that you understand that he feels scared - I wouldn’t just tell him he’s being silly if he seems genuinely upset

Yomammasapyjama Tue 15-Oct-19 21:26:38

He's in yr 1, for those who've asked.

HT85 Tue 15-Oct-19 21:27:50

I’m guessing your brother just needed the reassurance as a small child and your mum probably isn’t concerned about it anymore. It really isn’t forever - there are some great suggestions re: spray bottle etc. Does he have a nightlight? It could help to talk out any fears and worries he has before bedtime - dedicated anxiety dump/offload perhaps.

Herocomplex Tue 15-Oct-19 21:27:57

You’re right in a way, he is manipulating you, but you have to see it from his point of view. He desperately wants your company, so thinks of the best way to claim you, he is frightened in a way. He needs reassurance and you need to find a way to give him that whilst keeping your sanity!

Start early in the evening, give him a very firm routine, almost like a baby. Talk about his fears, don’t just tell him they’re not real. It may be that something is happening in his day that’s coming to mind in his tired brain at bedtime.

Talk about the nice things that will happen in the morning, and give him happy thoughts to think about.
Good luck

Inebriati Tue 15-Oct-19 21:28:30

I wouldn't risk giving him a scarf in bed, can you replace it with a teddy?

Lolly86 Tue 15-Oct-19 21:31:57

My nearly 6 year old went through a bit of a monster phase earlier this year. We made monster spray (the fairies brought it) and we sprayed it every night and shouted Go Away Monsters! This seemed to work and we dont need to do it now. Hut I do generally stay with her till she goes to sleep. It comforts her and doesn't take more than 20/30mins after last story

DrPimplePopper Tue 15-Oct-19 21:32:42

Don't feel bad, I was similar and felt that I was being deliberately wound up as I have been trying to help my DD with this lately. I spoke to a specialist as we had other issues too, and they gave me a tip about an activity book something like 'when worries get too big'. I also read that saying things like 'monsters aren't real' is not helpful as it's dismissive of their worries, even if they're being cheeky or whatever they are seeking attention for some reason so open communication instead of seeing it as a wind up/rod for back etc. I now talk about how I am there, the house is very safe, bear/dolly is with you all night and you can hug them when you feel worried and so on. After lights out I sit in her room and go in and out a bit, have gradually reduced it from 30 mins down to just a few as she's gaining confidence. We also introduced a lullaby music with stars twinkling and also a nightlight, she's a bit younger than your DS though, but would he like that?

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