Monday, September 24, 2012

Afraid At Night?

Last night when I was tucking Graham in he seemed pretty reluctant to put his head down and go to sleep. Usually he's the one kid that I don't have problems with in that department. He is so GO GO GO during the day that by the time that it's bedtime he's more than ready to hit the hay. Graham seemed a little more chatty last night than usual so I stayed in there a little longer and he eventually ended up confessing that he's been either scared to go to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night scared.

Graham started off our conversation like this... "Momma, do you ever feel like that you can hear someone breathing on you at night?" I just laughed at this and said "Yeah, Daddy does it all the time!" of course Graham said "No, Momma I mean for real!". I ended up just telling him that it was probably just the AC or fan going. We talked for a while about how things can seem different at night without the lights on and how sometimes we are dreaming but might feel like we are awake.

Graham then volunteered that he'd been waking in the middle of the night a lot recently and too afraid to walk down the upstairs hallway, down the stairs, and into our room to wake either myself or Bobby. My sweet boy had been trying to deal with his fear alone by turning his little night table light on and doodling in a little notebook he keeps. He said that sometimes he turned his tv on for a while too. I said that those were all very good ideas and would certainly help take his mind off of things. I felt pretty good about those options because every morning that I go in his room to wake him everything is turned back off and he's not too sleepy in the morning (ie- he's only staying up for a little while at night and is able to turn everything back off again after he's ok again).

I told him that we would stop watching anything that was remotely scary on tv (including myself) so that we wouldn't get any bad ideas.


I am a 36 year old mother of 3 and I get scared at night sometime too... (I sleep with the master bathroom light on every.single.night). That all being said, I know what it's like to have an overactive imagination :). This is not something that I discuss with my children so I'm pretty sure that Graham hasn't picked this up from me.

I've tried to empower Graham by telling him that it's ok to do several different thing :

  • sleep with the hall and bathroom lights on
  • call out very loudly for Bobby or myself with out getting in trouble
  • sleep next to Grady in Grady's big bed. 
I've also tried to offer Graham many different explanations for to explain away what has been scaring him. Maybe in the future he can apply a certain reason to a certain event that scaring him.

My one problem? Graham told me that last week we had woken up early one morning and needed to use the bathroom. He said that when he opened his door (which I always leave cracked for him) " there was a black shape that jumped from the hallway into my bathroom". I wasn't sure what to say here. His eyes were playing tricks on him?

Ugh. My almost 11 year old is kinda getting away from the usual childishness of "there's a purple dinosaur under my bed". I struggle because I want to both validate Graham's fear and explain it away for him at the same time. I want him to feel like he's being heard, understood, and taken seriously. I sometimes wonder if I'm still a "fraidy cat" is because my own parents just said things like "your're fine, and just go to sleep" and then completely disregarded my emotions and left me alone to deal with my fears and uncertainties.

 This is my first encounter with an almost preteen and being frightened and I feel that I need to have a different conversation with him than I do with my four year old and "monsters under the bed". I guess I'm just worried that I'm not doing it right. I want Graham to grow up happy, healthy, confident, and unafraid. I want my sweet boy to sleep through the night soundly and without fear. 

Anyone else have these problems with their older children??


Tesha said...

Jimmy my 14 year old has bad dreams, I can hear him talking in his sleep. Up until a couple of years ago he would still come to our bed if it was a really bad one. Our boys share a room so I think that helps. Try praying for him right before bed. I try to say things like help so and so have wonderful dreams and sleep peacefully instead of focusing on the bad dreams and fears. I struggle with fears also so I tell them I understand and explain how I cope... prayers, turning on a light, waking up daddy asking him to pray for me if I really need to. The no scary things on TV is really good also! Your doing a great job don't worry.

Kristy said...

Our foster daughter was terrified of the dark and hated sleep. She had a reason to be afraid because of her past but we would pray before bed and always remind her that our house was safe. We also told her it was ok to yell for us or come get us if she needed to. She had 2 night lights in her room and 1 in the bathroom.

The Momma said...

This is so hard! I don't have any advice bc my kids are both still young. I can tell you this though, my mom will openly admit she is still very afraid of the dark. It's not something I knew as a child, but as I grew up I did realize it. I will be praying for your sweet boy as he struggles with this! :) XOXO friend!

ginmommy said...

Aww, that's sad. I hate that for him and for you. I don't have that problem simply because my children are only 7 and 5, but maybe one day I will? I will tell you that at 37 I'm still scared of things, and when my husband is out of town, I"m a mess. My only advice is to tell him to pray when the fear strikes. Give him verses to quote over and over, and assure him that the Lord is always with him and that you will always be there too.

Candance said...

Grace was scared of the dark forever because my mother is and when she stayed over there, my mom would sleep with like 10 lights on. Then, for some reason (probably also related to my mother) she started having anxiety when she tried to go to sleep that she would die. Every night, she'd come in my room and I'd have to try to talk her down. She was 12 at the time. I feel ya but I have no advice because I probably didn't handle it too well after being woken up night-after-night and not being able to fall back asleep.

Kerry said...

Yes absolutely, Ryan is afraid to go anyone in the house on his own even during the day. He is 9 and still goes to sleep with the light on...For a long time he was coming into our bed through the night because he woke up for some reason and then got scared. I feel I need to explain things a little better to him and to have more compassion at times instead of brushing it off. Thanks for this post xo

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