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4yr old waking up saying he's scared of monsters and wolves - ideas?

(43 Posts)
Witchycat Wed 26-Oct-05 19:55:07

DS is 4yrs & 3 months. He has always been quite 'sensitive' but never had a problem settling on his own in bed and slept in his own room from 6 months with no problem.

Just this week he has started taking longer to settle at bed time and last night he woke up at 2am & after a fair bit of gentle questioning he admitted he was scared of monsters and wolves.

I told him monsters are just in stories and he seemed to accept it but telling him there are no wolves in England and even if there were the front door is locked seemed to make no difference.
The 2nd time he woke up he asked 'what if the wolves have keys? I told him again there aren't any wolves and said that even if there were they couldn't get our keys and even if they did their silly furry paws wouldn't be able to use them.

I tihnk part of this is just because he has more energy now it's half term so he's not sleeping as soundly but there's obviously an anxiety there too. School say he's settled in well (just started) so I don't think it's that. Any ideas?

bakabat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:05:35

ds2 started doing this a couple of weeks ago (he's 3 and a half). Sorted it with a nightlight.

busybusybee Wed 26-Oct-05 20:06:06

Hi witchycat - Our ds was/is frightened of Walruses! He thinks they swim up the sides of his bed at night - We bought a small toy Walrus - when the fears upset him we "wipe" the bed + and any where else he suggest with the walrus - it sounds bizarre but it works for ds - Could you try that perhaps?

busybusybee Wed 26-Oct-05 20:08:00

Oh and we have a nightlight too - if he is silly at bedtime, nightime, very early mornings we threaten to turn it off - which also has the desired effect

Witchycat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:10:44

Hi. We have a light and have been letting him leave it on the past couple of nights. It's a bit bright but doesn't seem to stop him sleeping.

He has loads of toy animals but not a wolf - might try that. Got him a semi-factual story about wolves from the library today but not sure he even wants to read it. He has plenty of modern fairy tales where the wolves are good as well as the ones where the wolves are scary so not sure why he's fixated on them so much.

edgetop Wed 26-Oct-05 20:11:04

my ds is 5 in december he went through this, i just used to tell him same as you also let him look in wardrobe & our room to check, also i made it fun,it wore off. just yesterday he said he heard noises in his room,when i went up i could hear the wind so i explained it to him he seemed happy, i think sometimes they see things on tv that is scary.

tissy Wed 26-Oct-05 20:11:42

apparently I was afraid of foxes at this age- no idea why! Mum sorted it by having a night-time routine of "checking" the room, and shouting" come on foxes back outside to play!".

Could you possibly find or make up a story with nice wolves in? Where the Wild things are, by Maurice Sendak has some "monsters" who are definitely beaten by a little boy.

skinnycow Wed 26-Oct-05 20:13:50

take him to the local zoo or safari park and let him actually see the wolves.

bakabat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:14:35

my friend appeared with a disney night light (with a bird on that opens its eyes when the light is on and shuts its eyes when the light is off). I think the bird thing helped as we told him he was looking after him. So I think it was a mix of having a light and having a friendly face on there iyswim.

skinnycow Wed 26-Oct-05 20:14:36

i have a piccie of my dd stroking the wolf she sponsored. I could send it to you if you like

spidermama Wed 26-Oct-05 20:15:31

At the risk of sounding corny ....

Supernanny did something once which I'd never have thought to do before. But I copied her and it seemed to work.

She said it's no good just saying, 'No, no there's nothing to worry about, there's no such thing'. You have to enter their world.

Say, 'hold my hand and show me the monster' ... then turn the whole thing round and say, 'Oh look, he's just lost his way. Let's send him on his way'. (She used flour as fairy dust)

It sounds a bit silly I know, but it worked for my ds who's 3. He appeared to be relieved that someone was taking him seriously at last.

The monsters are symbolic. Perhaps they just want to be believed.

foxinsocks Wed 26-Oct-05 20:17:02

we got a toy dragon - one of those big jellycat (think that's the name) green dragons - dragon protects our children from everything (apparently)!

skinnycow Wed 26-Oct-05 20:18:25

i remember the time ds (aged about 3 at the time) squeezed a full ribena carton with straw attached to make "fairy sprinkles" on our lounge carpet

foxinsocks Wed 26-Oct-05 20:20:21

actually it wasn't jellycat it was Manhattan toys (just had a quick peek!)

doormat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:22:15

ds who is 4 said this to me the other night,

there was a monster on the landing

i said dont be silly(he was lying in bed with me)
he said but mum there he is looking at me

I looked over and seen some eyes and turned on the light

It was a scream mask on a pile of washing

witchy got no real advise but to keep reinforcing that there is no such thing as monsters

Witchycat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:23:55

Skinnycow - I wondered about showing him some real wolves at the zoo. Nearest one to us is probably Chester. Will check the website & see if they have wolves there. Really good of you to suggest the photo but not sure it would work. The zoo thing might.

Re. the rituals to get rid of monsters - the problem with the wolves is that he knows they do exist and are not imaginary. He also knows they are not in his room when he goes to bed - he worries about them getting into the house. I think pretending that they could there, even as a fun thing, would make it worse because it hasn't occured to him that they could be there. He's quite smart & very logical so it's practical things like locking all the doors & windows & even the cat flap that seem to help a bit - but then he came out with the line about 'what if they have keys?'

skinnycow Wed 26-Oct-05 20:25:12

tell him if the wolf had keys they would be the wrong ones because mummy and daddy have the only keys in the whole world to your house

doormat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:26:28

it might settle down after halloween do you think

foxinsocks Wed 26-Oct-05 20:28:28

ooh witchycat, that's very logical for 4! Has he maybe seen foxes roaming around?

Witchycat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:34:44

I told him last night that no-one else has keys to our house.

Don't think it's got anything to do with Halloween - he hasn't really heard much about that.

We do get urban foxes round here and he's seen them once but ages ago. (The sound is pretty freaky when you don't know what it is but he hasn't said he's heard anything). I don't think it's got anything to do with foxes. In fact. I'm not convinced it's really about wolves - it might be some other underlying anxiety but I can't work out what.

Witchycat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:35:44

Anyone know if Blackpool zoo or Knowsley Safari Park has wolves?

doormat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:36:58

anything to do with red riding hood story

laligo Wed 26-Oct-05 20:40:39

i have a friend who cured her dd's fear of monsters by inventing a nice monster who keeps all the others away. if you had a toy wolf (as with the walrus or dragon) it could keep all the real wolves at bay as it would be their friend (if this would make sense to your ds!)

Witchycat Wed 26-Oct-05 20:42:52

Doormat - yes, it's Red Riding Hood and 3 Pigs that has got the wolves thing into his head but he has 'happy ending' versions as well as the ones where the pigs get eaten and Riding Hood survives ok in all of them.
In the daytime he doesn't seem bothered - e.g. today he even dressed up as a wolf while I was LRRH. I think the 'scary wolves' thing is just an image that comes to mind for him when he's feeling insecure/anxious about something else.

How can I get to the bottom of what's really bothering him?
Can a 4 year old even know himelef what the problem is, nevermind articulate how he feels ?

foxinsocks Wed 26-Oct-05 20:45:07

perhaps you could ask some gentle probing questions about school?

has anything else changed (your work/nanny/house/family)?

It amazes me what small things kids pick up on which then go on to upset them.

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