Why is my child afraid to sleep alone?
Kids being afraid of the dark or sleeping in a room by themselves is not uncommon.
How do you respond when your child cannot sleep without you? How do you respond when your child has night time anxiety?
When A Child Has Night Time Anxiety
Granted, your child being terrified of darkness may seem very illogical. But you have to remember that it is only “illogical” because you see it from your position as an adult.
Our brains process things differently; the child’s brain most of the time is fueled by emotion. Ours, on the other hand, is fueled by logic; as it should be.
This is why it can seem like you’re worsening things when you tell your kid that there are really no monsters lurking in the dark. And of course, there are no monsters, but that won’t stop him from communicating his fears and concerns until he is heard.
When Your Child Is Afraid Of The Dark
How do you get your child to stop being afraid of the dark without disregarding his emotions? How do you get him finally understand that while his emotions are valid, he’ll still be safe if you’re not in the room with him?
In this article, I’ll share some tips for helping your child overcome the fear of sleeping alone and finally say goodbye to nighttime anxiety.
Stopping Nighttime Fear And Anxiety: The Things You Can Do
Distinguish Between Fantasy And Reality
Kids with nighttime fears should be talked to about the difference between reality and fantasy. Let them know that there are no monsters in the closet, in the hallway, or anywhere in the dark. By distinguishing between fantasy and reality, they have significantly reduced risk for nighttime fears or nightmares.
Teach Your Child How To Relax
Does your child cry during any of his anxiety attacks or whenever he has to sleep alone? If he does, try teaching him breathing exercises as you try to calm him.
Teach him to take slow, deep breaths by having him exhale into a party blower. Studies have shown that these breathing exercises help to lessen emotional distress in both adults and kids.
Create Positive Night Time Stories
Another way to help your child overcome nighttime fears is by using a technique known as story desensitization. This technique is designed to help kids become less fearful by making them face their fears in small steps.
At daytime, create short stories with your child in which his favorite fictional character overcomes nighttime fears. Try to keep the story as positive as possible and as the story progresses, introduce something a little scary to it that your child’s favorite character eventually conquers with some of the techniques mentioned in this article.
Counter Fearful Thoughts
With this method, you help your child think of safety, happiness, and bravery, all of which helps to give him a huge sense of control.
Create these images whenever the scary ones come up. When he’s scared of sleeping alone or being in the dark, you can tell him to imagine running or playing with his dog or any other pet.
Check Possible Sources Of Daily Stress
According to studies, children who suffer from daytime anxieties such as separation from parents, school-related anxiety, or other issues during the day are more likely to be terrified of the dark and sleeping alone. You can lessen your child’s nighttime fears significantly by helping him cope better with the daytime stress.
Reviewing The Sleep Schedule And Requirement
As kids grow, their sleep requirements may change. Because many parents tend to overestimate how much sleep their children need, they often try to make their kids sleep long before they feel sleepy. When this is done, your child will have more time to overthink his fears at night or when left to be alone in the dark.
Try gauging your child’s sleep requirements and if you discover that you’ve been sending him to sleep earlier than needed, you should consider reviewing the sleep schedule. No, he doesn’t have to spend the extra one or two hours watching TV, you can line up other fun activities such as storytelling or games.
No Terrifying Imageries, Stories Or TV Before Bed
Avoid watching frightening movies, telling disturbing stories, or other materials when your child is present and right before bedtime. Kids exposed to frightening stories have been found to sleep poorly and had more disturbed sleep compare to those who weren’t.
Be Swift In Your Response To Nightmares
Be prompt in your response to nightmares. Whenever it happens, reassure your child that the nightmare wasn’t real. Patiently explain to him that everyone has nightmares. Doing this instead of delaying will help to quickly dispel the scare of a frightening dream and this way, your child goes back to sleep quicker.
Provide A Night Light
Provide your child with a night light but ensure you only get one that gives off dim light with a soft warm hue. Avoid bright and red light as these inhibit the production of melatonin in the brain, and tend to prevent sleep.
Be Calm And Confident
You’re probably your child’s biggest model on many things. Thus, when he comes to you or reports his fears to you, try as much as possible to remain calm, confident, sensitive, and responsive.
Let him know that you completely understand his feelings and assure him that even the bravest of us get scared sometimes. You shouldn’t let your sympathy make you too protective of him. Our young ones can pick up fears by watching us. A child can grow more anxious or fearful once he sees that you’re anxious, worried, or fearful.
A Stuffed Animal/Toy Or Doll
Providing your child with a stuffed animal or soft toy can help to reduce nighttime fears. In one study, fearful children who received a toy showed lesser nighttime fears and sleep problems than the children in the control group.
As a parent, your child is probably not the only one suffering from the effect of nighttime fears. It may be depriving you of adequate sleep and it’s only normal to wish it would all end.
While you work towards curbing or stopping this behavior, you should not direct your anger at the child. Stopping or managing this behavior will take some time, and directing your resentment at your child will only worsen things and take you several steps backward. Remain patient even when it’s hard.
Most children will have nighttime fears at some point in their early years. When this happens, they’ll need you to be sensitive to their fears, temperaments, and needs. Kids suffering from nighttime fears also need to be reassured regularly so they have a sense of security and become able to successfully overcome their nighttime fears.
Finally, if your child suffers from severe nighttime fears or nightmares or his fears seem to linger despite all you do, you should consult with a doctor or a trained and licensed therapist. A thorough examination and evaluation will help the professional create a treatment plan according to your child’s specific needs.
Why Is My Child Always Angry? When A Child’s Anger Become A Problem
Unlike adults, kids are often fueled by their emotions and this is why tantrums or meltdowns can be common occurrences. But, what about prolonged intense anger or frequent outbursts? Is this normal or beyond the usual childhood behavioral issues that kids often outgrow?
Occasional meltdown is common with most children. Because their behaviors are often fueled by their emotions, they may sometimes lash out when frustrated or being defiant. This is completely normal and most will stop with corrections or naturally outgrow it.
When Does A Child’s Anger Become A Problem?
A child’s temper tantrum should become concerning when if you notice the following signs.
- An outburst that becomes dangerous to him or others around
- Temper tantrums and outbursts regularly occurring beyond the age of eight
- Temper tantrums and outbursts that get in the way of learning. This type of outburst can cause his teachers to report him frequently.
- When the behavior gets in the way of his socialization; causing him to get excluded from playdates and parties.
- When he is unable to control his anger and feels bad about it
- His anger gets in the way of peace in the family; disruptive to normal family life
Causes Of Anger Issues In Children
Again, tantrums are normal and expected at certain stages in childhood. However, they become concerning when they carry on past these stages. If your child throws tantrums or is overly aggressive, it could be linked to any of the causes outlined below.
Undiagnosed/Untreated Learning Disability
If your child has temper tantrums or outbursts at school or mostly when it concerns school work, he may be suffering from an undiagnosed learning disability. These conditions could make learning extra difficult for him and the resulting frustrations would in turn cause him to throw tantrums.
Anger issues are a common symptom among children with ADHD. Kids with this condition are frustrated easily especially when learning something new or when they have to do their homework or any learning-related activity.
Children suffering from severe anxiety may have frequent outbursts and often more defiant to instructions. Children with these conditions struggle with situations that trigger distress and lash out when made to face these situations.
It is also not uncommon for the child’s fight or flight mode instinct to take hold during anxiety-inducing situations causing the child to throw a fit or simply refuse to do things to avoid facing his fears.
And even when such children manage to “keep it together” at school, they often flip the lid at home.
Sensory Processing Issues
While rare, your child’s anger outbursts could be a result of the difficulty he has processing information he receives through his senses. Children with this condition are particularly sensitive to excessive noise, crowds, and so become overwhelmed, anxious, or uncomfortable under these conditions.
When faced with huge or unexpected changes, children on all points of the autism spectrum are commonly prone to outbursts or major meltdowns. This is due to the sensory issues that may cause them to become anxious and agitated.
Trauma Or Neglect
Kids will act out when they are neglected or have to deal with chaotic situations at home. kids suffering from trauma or neglect often display these behaviors at school intimidating other students in the process. Children more at risk include those with ADHD and those who have had traumatic experiences.
Symptoms Of Anger Issues In Children
Because temper tantrums or outbursts can easily be confused or misdiagnosed as something else, it is important that you’re familiar with some of the red flags in order to quicken diagnosis and treatment.
- Intense and quick reaction by the child to perceived rejection or insult
- Excessive risk-taking in areas they feel confident about their abilities e.g. classroom games, sports, etc.
- Avoidance of areas or assignments where their deficits are easily exposed and overreacting when made to partake in these assignments
- Anger outbursts that are often brief
- Frequent defiance to instructions
These are just a few of the symptoms of the condition. While these symptoms will help you make a close guess, the key to accurate diagnosis is getting proper help from a health professional and in this case; a pediatrician. Once all possible medical courses are ruled out, you’ll be referred to a trained and experienced child psychologist to help determine the exact cause of your child’s outbursts.
How To Help A Child With Anger Issues/What You Can Do If Your Child Has Anger Issues
While your child’s anger outburst may be exasperating to you and others in the family, you have to understand that he is only distressed. If he were older, he would probably manage it more maturely.
Do not view this problem as a manipulative behavior as he only lacks language, control and problem-solving skills to deal with his anger in the best possible way.
That said when a child lashes out or throws temper tantrums, you want to help in the best way you can before or after a professional’s evaluation. I outlined some of the things you can do below.
Identify the triggers
The first thing you want to do when your child has frequent emotional outbursts is to identify the triggers of this behavior.
Do his outbursts begin when getting ready for school? Does he become anxious at bedtime? For the former, you can prepare his mind beforehand by laying out his clothes, waking him earlier, or even having him shower the night before. You can also break down the tasks for each school day into steps and post them on the wall. That way, he is better prepared mentally for the day ahead.
Kids can quickly get out of control and when dealing with a raging child, it can seem even worse. Now, it’s very easy to lose your cool at this point and yell at him to stop. But you shouldn’t.
When you yell or reprimand harshly, you only decrease your chances of reaching him. In defiance, he’ll become more aggressive and less likely to listen to you. Try to remain as possible and by doing this, you not only create a chance to reach the child but also teach him to do the same thing during upsetting situations.
Encourage positive behavior
After he calms down from a fit of anger, praise him for it. Encourage him to verbalize his feelings and when he does, try to arrive at a compromise on the problem and praise him for making the effort.
Don’t give in
The last thing you want to do is encourage this behavior by agreeing to all he wants. You’ll only be reinforcing an undesirable behavior which would certainly make it harder for him to stop.
Help and encourage him to practice problem-solving
One of the best times to help a child prone to outbursts is when he is not upset. Encourage him to communicate his feelings to you and help him come up with solutions to the issues before they happen.
“Everyone Makes Mistakes”
Children prone to outbursts often have high standards for themselves. This they do without even realizing it. They lack the social awareness of the expectations for children within their age range.
Teach the child to understand that there everyone makes mistakes. It would also be helpful if they are taught to say the phrase to themselves whenever they make a mistake/have a higher than “normal” expectations of themselves.
During outbursts/tantrums, a nonverbal cue can be an effective way to get your child to calm down before a total rage. These cues could include raising your hand in a “stop” motion when your child’s anger is rising.
Practice this with the child in his calm state so he learns to see it as a safe signal not necessarily as a punishment.
Why Is My Child So Angry? Conclusion
Kids at any age will throw tantrums to get what they want and to avoid certain situations. This is perfectly normal. What is not be “normal” is a child above eight or nine throwing tantrums regularly or frequently bursting into fits of anger.
While it is advised that you ignore these behaviors to avoid encouraging it, you may still need to take other steps. This is particularly important in cases where the child is getting physical to the extent of frightening you or disrupting the family with his behavior.
Apply the techniques and behavioral therapies outlined above. And also see a professional for help if the behavior persists.
Bedwetting In Children: Causes, Diagnosing And Solutions To Bedwetting
At some point in their early years, kids will wet their beds and this is completely normal.
At what age does bedwetting become a problem? How can you effectively stop an older child from wetting the bed? What are the possible causes of bedwetting in children? I’ll discuss all of these and more in this article.
When Bedwetting Becomes A Problem
Bedwetting is fairly common among children but as they grow older, most outgrow this behavior. While a few may wet the bed occasionally, some may continue bedwetting until their early teenage years.
What Causes Bedwetting?
Contrary to popular belief, bedwetting does not occur because of a child’s laziness. There are several reasons your child may be bedwetting and these reasons are outlined below.
Genetic causes. In these cases, bedwetting is inherited from a parent or an older family member e.g. an aunt or an uncle.
Stress. Bedwetting can be triggered by stress. A change in the family; positive or negative ones e.g. the arrival of a new baby, moving, or a new bedtime schedule during a long trip or a vacation can increase stress levels causing bedwetting.
In some cases, bedwetting may be caused by a smaller than normal bladder.
Bedwetting may also occur when the hormone vasopressin isn’t being produced sufficiently. This hormone causes a reduction in urine production during sleep.
Slower development of the central nervous system making the child unable to stop the bladder from emptying during sleep.
Spinal cord abnormalities
In rare cases, your child’s bedwetting may be a sign of an underlying health problem. This bedwetting type may suddenly occur after your child has been dry for months or even years.
Urethral or ureter valves abnormalities
Untreated urinary tract infection
If you suspect an underlying cause, you should talk to your doctor or see a pediatrician. The pediatrician will screen the child for possible health problems and recommend treatment plans tailored for the specific condition.
When Do Children Achieve Bladder Control?
There is no one-size-fits-all timeline for every child. Children can achieve bladder control at different ages but generally, for many children under the age of 5, treatment may not be needed for bedwetting.
Some children may wet their beds until the 7 though not regularly. If your child wets the bed more than occasionally after the age of 7 and does so during the day and at night, you should consult your health care professional or pediatrician.
Aside from a serious underlying condition being responsible for bedwetting in rare cases, oftentimes, children who wet the bed are healthy and active. Having your doctor examine your child can help you determine the true cause of the condition.
Before the physical exam, your doctor or pediatrician will ask questions about the child’s daytime and nighttime bathroom habits. He may ask about happenings at home and school for your child. He may also recommend a urine test to check for an untreated infection or diabetes.
Depending on the findings, (usually, there is no known underlying cause of bedwetting and your doctor may recommend any or most of the strategies outlined in this article) your doctor may prescribe drugs to treat any underlying condition or another for bladder or urine production control.
Bedwetting: What Parents Can Do
If your child could stop bedwetting without your help, he’d have done so long ago. Avoid blaming or shaming your child and focus instead on practical steps and positive encouragement. It’s probably already more embarrassing for him than it is for you.
Tips to help your child stop bedwetting
Control Fluid Intake And Urination Before Bedtime
Your child’s fluid intake during the day will influence his urine frequency at night. Allow and encourage the child to drink as much fluid as possible during the day instead of waiting until night. Limit his fluid intake and try to get him into the habit of urinating every two or three hours. One hour before bedtime, have the child urinate and repeat right before he sleeps.
You may want to consider getting a bedwetting alarm. These alarm types are designed with moisture sensors that trigger a buzzer or bell when the pajamas start to get wet.
Like most children will learn to wake up to use the toilet when the alarm sounds before completely wetting the bed.
Create a reward system. While you should not punish or shame your child for wetting the bed, you should create a reward system for dry nights. This encourages positive behavior and helps the child get more into good habits.
If your child is old enough to do it, ask him to change the sheets whenever he wets the bed. If he hasn’t been changing sheets, see it as an opportunity for him to learn; teach him how and have him do it any time he wets the bed.
Bladder training. Patiently teach your child to hold his urine for longer during the day. It will take some time but with good practice, he will learn. This exercise helps to stretch the bladder so it holds more urine for longer.
Medications. Even though your child’s condition may not be the result of an underlying ailment, it may still be helped with medications.
When taken before bed, these medications will help to reduce the quantity of urine produced during sleep. They may be beneficial during sleepovers, camps, etc. especially when used alongside other bedwetting prevention techniques.
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How To Know When Your Kid Is Ready For Sleepovers
How do you know your child is ready for his first sleepover? Sleepovers are no doubt major steps for 7 – 9yr olds towards independence and separation from you. While many kids if not all will enjoy the extra time spent around their friends and sleeping under the same rood for a night, some kids are just not ready for it yet. And it’s completely alright if your child seems unprepared for a first sleepover. When the time is right for him, you’ll know.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the importance of sleepovers for kids and things you can do as a parent to prepare your child for an amazing first sleepover. We’ll also share some tips on hosting a successful sleepover for your child and his little guests.
Is My Kid Ready For A Sleepover? Getting Your Kid Ready For A Sleepover
Trust Your Instincts
First, if you have a not-so-good feeling about an approaching sleepover, you should decline it without feeling guilty. Tell the other parents involved that you’re not comfortable with it yet.
And even when you have no qualms about letting your child go to a sleepover, you should forgo the offer if you feel Betty isn’t quite ready for one yet. You don’t want the first experience turning her off sleepovers entirely, do you? Of course, you don’t!
Offer To Host
If you have concerns about a first-time sleepover, you can offer to host it at your home. That way, you’ll be there if your child gets tired of being around her friends or they start bickering over anything.
Also during the sleepover, you want to ensure that the other siblings are kept busy with other activities so the little sleepover host gets some time alone with her friend/friends.
Discuss What To Expect With Your Child
Before a sleepover, discuss the things to expect with your child. You don’t want him getting cold feet before or during a sleepover and requesting that you come pick him.
Before a first sleepover, your child may have questions like; “where do I sleep?”, “can I call you before bed?” or if it’s possible to bring along his favorite stuffed animal or any other thing that helps ease his anxiety. You can find out how the sleepover will unfold and let the host’s parents in on any concerns you have about your child.
But try not to overdo the requests. It’s just one night and if there are things your child can do without like having vitamins in the mornings, you can wait till you pick him up after breakfast. However, you should let them know about his fear of darkness so they understand why he has to come with a flashlight. Tell them about his allergies, the medications (if any), and reminders like using the bathroom right before bed.
You may also need to mention a routine if any, that helps him sleep better such as reading him a book.
Why Your Child Should Be Allowed To Have Sleepovers/Some Of The Advantages Of Sleepovers
Below, you’ll find some of the benefits of letting your child have sleepovers. And if you’ve not been open to it, we hope this helps you reconsider.
Kids Get To Experience Change
When your kids are allowed to have sleepovers, it can be a good opportunity for them to experience change. Even more so if they have the sleepover at their friend’s house instead of doing it at home.
Kids shouldn’t get used to the same routine, and a sleepover helps to spice and change things from time to time. Kids are naturally inclined to leave their comfort zone with sleepovers. Your kids allow themselves explore unknown territory. And don’t worry, you knowing the host family can be more than enough to let the kids know they can take the “risk” and survive it. If they do “survive” it, they’ll be more than open to change and the unknown.
A sleepover lets your children understand that there are differences between their own family they host’s. They may even find the “advantages” in the host family and point out the “faults” in yours. See it an opportunity to talk to them about the different ways people live and about the decisions you run your home on. Not only will having such talks strengthen the bond between you and your kids, but it also helps them understand your “rules” or choices better.
For Social Skills Enhancement
At their early stage, your kids need as many opportunities as possible to stay away from you and still feel safe. With sleepovers, they’re presented with this opportunity to be independent and their social skills are equally enhanced.
When they go into a new house with a set of rules different from one they’re used to, they naturally learn to sense these rules and try to get along. Truth is, kids will always act their best and try to get along. But if for whatever reason they call to ask that you pick them up because of how different the rules seemed to them or how much they miss home, you shouldn’t be disappointed. Go pick them up, it’s only a sign that they’re yet to be fully ready for a sleepover. You can wait a month or two and then try again.
They Learn To Share
Organizing sleepovers help teach kids to share their stuff. These include toys, beds, and even their parents’ attention. Now, sharing stuff including your attention may be harder for younger kids and this is completely normal. But if they like inviting their friends for sleepovers, then they are clearly confident of your attention and won’t mind sharing it with friends.
You Let Go Of Some Of The Control
When you allow sleepovers at your child’s friends’ houses, you let go of some of the control you have over your child’s life. While this isn’t an easy task for you especially with younger children, it is a chance for your child to develop emotionally.
If you have some concerns, remember you can always talk to the friend’s parents about it and even invite them over to know the family better.
You Get More Time To Do Things Differently
With one family member absent, parents get the opportunity to do things differently. You get the chance with the changed atmosphere to give each other or others in the family more attention than you usually would.
An Opportunity To Reinforce Good Behavior
Kids are usually in their best behavior when at other houses or they “risk” not being invited in the future.
So, in the mornings after sleepovers when you go to pick your child, and you’re told how well-behaved he was, you can see it as an opportunity to reinforce his good behavior. On your way back home, you could say something like; Kate’s mom told me how wonderful you were, I love that you’ve always been well-behaved.
Tips For Preparing For A Sleepover
Plan entertainment ahead. The younger kids are, the harder it is to keep them excited for a long time. Also, during the sleepover, be attentive, mindful and responsive so you can offer your help when required.
Try to keep the sleepovers sweet and short when hosting and avoid dragging the next day.
When you organize a sleepover or send your child to one, try not to have too many kids involved unless you keep the number of kids even. Younger children are not so great at splitting their attention between so many friends and this could cause some to feel left out.
Plan every sleepover ahead with your child and make sure you stick to the plan.
Ask the other parents about meal restrictions and other essentials you should know about beforehand if you’re hosting. Kids can’t tell you all of that even if they try.
Exchange contact details with the other parents and be prepared to pick your child if the need ever arises. You can always try a sleepover another time.
While you can bend the house rules a little, let your kid understand that nothing much changes even with the guests around. If you do bend the rules, ensure they are aware of it.
Sleepovers should be short and magical. Keep it that way; if your kids get a sleepover every weekend, it defeats the whole purpose.
Again, don’t persuade your child to stay at any sleepover. If he wants to come home because he misses you or just can’t fall asleep because he’s scared, don’t try to persuade him to stay. Getting him home when he requests helps to establish his trust that you’ll get him if ever needs it and he’ll be more open to future sleepovers.
You can talk about his experience the next morning and the ways he can make subsequent sleepovers better. Try not to dwell on the experience or over-analyze the occurrence or it will make him less open to sleepovers.
Final Words; Planning a Sleepover
Not all of us were allowed to have sleepovers growing up and while it may be the reason you aren’t so keen on it, understand that it holds a lot of benefits for your little one. Sleepovers, as mentioned earlier, helps to build emotional intelligence – a skill that cannot be bought or taught. Plus, your child brings home valuable lessons that will help to make you a better parent.
So, tell us; how old were your kids when they had their first sleepovers? Did they enjoy their first experience?
Share with us in the comment section below!