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2 year old sleep nightmare - please help!

(5 Posts)
Cantdothisagain Sun 11-Oct-09 08:15:47

Our 2 year old (just) DD has never been a great sleeper, but since about six months has gone to bed, awake, in her cot, with one of us sitting beside her till she falls asleep, after a routine of bath, milk, books.

Last week, this all changed. It happened after she went to a shop where there was a huge Halloween display, including a life-sized witch, who lit up and cackled when you walked near her. At the time, DD was fascinated, kept going up to the witch and making her cackle. However since then, she has been afraid to go into her cot at night, and keeps asking where the witch is. We've reassured her endlessly that the witch isnt there, but she has seemed genuinely afraid. Initially we managed to get her to sleep by sitting next to the cot with her on our knees and then popping her back in, but since then she has become scared of even her own room and just screams to go downstairs. She gets overwrought and goes into a tantrum-and she had never had tantrums before (though I know this is the age..) and is so upset and scared that we have ended up bringing her downstairs, where we struggle to get her to sleep, end up trying to put her back in the cot asleep, and when she wakes up in the night she is scared again, screams and we end up back downstairs. She is very overtired now which is making it worse. We've tried bringing her in with us, but that doesn't work (she only seems to want to be downstairs).

I dont want to let her scream if she is scared, but how do I stop her from being so scared? and how do we get out of the habit of coming downstairs?

She now associates sleep with stress; she cries now before her daytime nap, wherever it is, unless it is in a very public place (eg a shopping centre yesterday). It is horrible to see.

Would the GP or the health visitor have anything to suggest? FWIW, it definitely isn't illness/teething; she has all her teeth and is just fine the rest of the time when not about to sleep. Except that she is tired. And we are exhausted too as she ends up sleeping on us downstairs. Please, does anyone have any advice?

Besom Sun 11-Oct-09 08:32:03

I've seen people advocating 'monster spray' on here, in your case it would be 'witch spray'. Spray her room with one of those water sprays and tell her it keeps witches away. Or tell her one of her teddies has special powers to keep them away - whatever works. I remember my own mother doing something similar, although I was a bit older - she told me that the rowan trees in the garden would keep witches away from the house! She said it so seriously, I remember feeling very reassured.

I think this works better than saying 'witches don't exist' or 'you've nothing to worry about' because children don't believe you. But they are reassured when you take their fears seriously and seem to be doing something about them.

Cantdothisagain Tue 13-Oct-09 09:06:12

Thanks Besom. I told her we had sent the witch away and we waved her goodbye (!). Seemed to work a bit, but she is still very unsettled and anxious and clingy - affecting sleep but also daytime. Still, this will pass. Thank you and sorry for not replying sooner.

girlsyearapart Tue 13-Oct-09 09:10:26

How about a nightlight?my dd same age and friends dd same age both gone through similar recently. Light seemed to help.

Maybe you could take her to buy a special 'anti witch' lamp??

Cantdothisagain Tue 13-Oct-09 12:24:33

Hi, she has a nightlight, but perhaps a more friendly looking one (pink!) might be a good suggestion, thanks. Honestly I will try anything...

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