40+ Ways to Help Kids Overcome Night Time Anxiety

Banish bedtime monsters for good!  45 tried and true, parent-tested solutions for helping kids conquer their night time anxiety and fears at betime!

Bedtime should be a special and memorable part of a little one’s day, but if your child is afraid of monsters or boogeymen or has bad dreams or nightmares, it can be anything but. When it’s time to turn out the light, fear and anxiety set in, turning bedtime routine into a stressful experience for the entire family.

Night-time fears are very common among young children. I recently polled my facebook followers and heard from hundreds of parents whose children have, at one time or another, been plagued fears of monsters and bad dreams. They shared their stories and solutions, and I’m happy today, to pass them along to you!  Here are 40+ quotes and tips and tricks to help get your child over his or her fear of bedtime monsters. I hope you find some that work for your family!

Help kids overcome bedtime anxiety

Monster Spray: Decorate an empty spray bottle, or grab a printable Monster Spray label here, and fill ‘it with water and a few drops of essential oil. Mist your child’s bedroom at night, paying special attention to the closet and under the bed.  Dozens of parents swear by this trick, and I am one of them!

Monster Spray to ward off bedtime monsters

Monster swatter: One caregiver reported: “I have a fly swatter with the words “Monster Swatter” printed on it. I’ve sent it home with several of my daycare kids to keep until they swat the monsters out of their room. They usually sleep with it a few nights and return it to me when they are ready. It’s been 100% effective!”

monster swatters to help children who are afraid of monsters at bedtime

Monster hunt:  “I had issues with bedtime monsters in my closet and My Mom amd Dad brought up a garbage bag to my room and went Monster hunting and threw all the creatures away in the garbage! and I must say it worked!”

But if we play along with their fears, aren’t we confirming that monsters are real?

My daughter was about 3 when she went through this phase and no matter how much I told her they weren’t real it just upset her more. Then I read that they are very real to her and by me saying they aren’t, I’m dismissing her fears. So we made the spray. She is now 7 and knows that monsters are not real. The ‘monsters‘ that kids are afraid of at that stage are just how they put a name on their fears. Fears that are very very real to them.

 

As someone who still suffers from night terrors as an adult, my parents telling me monsters weren’t real when I was little just did not work. My nightmares were so realistic that I didn’t believe them.

 

I didn’t feel it was right to deny something she believed in so strongly so I wanted to figure out a way to help her take control and conquer her fears.

And so, on that note…

40+ ways to banish bedtime monsters and night time fear in kids:

Kick ‘em to the curb:  When my oldest was afraid of bedtime monsters, I’d would pretend to round up all the monsters in his room, and I would escort them down the hall, speaking loudly so my son could hear me “Come on, you, out you get!  Away you go!  You’re not welcome here!”  I’d open the front door, and slam it shut while hollering “…and don’t come back”.  Then I would walk back to my son’s room, dusting off my hands, and announce “They’re gone.”  He loved that!

Carry them out:  Get a big empty box, go into the room and close the door. Make a few thumps and bumps and come out with the box, making it move around as though there’s something in it. Huff and puff as if it’s heavy, and take it outside to the bin. …and similarly, another reader reported: “I had issues with monsters in my closet and My Mom amd Dad brought up a garbage bag to my room and went Monster hunting and threw all the creatures away in the garbage! and I must say it worked!”

Watch a monster movie: Two titles that parents mentioned time and time again were Disney’s “Monsters Inc”. and Veggie Tales’ “Where’s God When I’m Scared”.  Both can be purchased through Amazon.com by clicking on the following affiliate links:

 

Special Powers:

  • “My husband very seriously told the boys he had special power, and he could pass it to them. He laid his hands on their heads for a moment and then said “Monsters…BE GONE”  He then told them to hold their arms out and repeat the words,  This special “ceremony” resulted in my husband having to say this EVERY night at bedtime with the boys, and sometimes, in the middle of the night, we would hear a tiny voice loudly proclaim “MONSTERS…BE GONE”.
  • “We empowered our boys. We had them tell the bedtime monsters that it was time to go to bed and go home. Usually worked.”
  • ‘We tell ours to ‘abracadabra’ them into funny frogs and tell them to hop away. He ‘abracadabras’ everything with a pretend magic stick so we suggested it for monsters and it’s worked really well.”
  • “My husband preformed a smudging ritual for bedtime.”

I tell my son ‘It’s ok to be scared. You have to be scared in order to be brave’.

 

 Books that can help: Each image is an affiliate link to the product on Amazon.com

 

Tools to banish bedtime monsters:

  • A magic blanket some children believe they’re safe as long as they stay underneath it.
  • an old remote control to “change the channel” of their dream if they’re having a bad one.
  • soft music and a night light
  • ” We take foam swords and go door to door with them to fight them off before bed”
  • Use an empty squirt gun and shoot under the bed and into the closets every night.
  • flashlight that turns off automatically after 10 minutes can be comforting if they wake up scared in the night.

 

  • Listen for the sounds: Lay in bed with your child and listen.  Ask him to identify the sounds that scare him.  Sometimes it’s the car racing by or the screeching of a cat.  A young child isn’t able to make sense of these sounds when he hears them in the night, and assumes they belong to something very scary.
  • Look around from their level: Lay on the bed with your child and look around.  Is there something casting a scary shadow on the wall?  A chair or piece of clothing hanging from a hook?  Move it.
  • Move the bed so that your child can see out his or her bedroom door.  Leave the door open a little and a hall light on.

 

Enlist the help of your furry friends:  

“My son is going through same thing. Both our parents have big dogs, so he has a picture of a dog warning sign and he puts it into the bedroom window as thats where he thinks the monster’s are.”

  • Many parents assure their child that their cat or dog protects their house from monsters at night.
  • “Dogs eat monsters.  That’s why they lick their chops in the night”.
  • A favourite stuffed animal perched high on a shelf will keep watch over the room and protect the child.   One mom recommends using a stuffed owls because owls are known to remain awake and alert all night.

We also had a really nice stuffed bear that I had put up on the top shelf to keep it as decor. My husband named him Guardian Bear. He watches over my son and stops any monsters or bad dreams from coming.

 

 

Ask your child where the monsters are:

  • Under the bed?  Get down on your hands and knees order the monsters to get out.  Get firm with them if need be.
  • In the closet?  Lean a chair up against the closet door.

My sister asked him where the monsters were coming from. He said “they go from my mind to under the bed.” Then she asked him what he thought they ought to do about it. He suggested reading happy books at bedtime, three books instead of two, giving him an extra bunny to hug, and a nightlight. So she did that. Generally speaking, in our family (extended), we believe that if the problem is coming from the kid’s mind, the solution is also in there if you ask.

  • Sprinkle salt on the window ledge and in the doorway.  Monsters are allergic to salt.

We tell our kids to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.  Telling them monsters aren’t real doesn’t always work.  Find something your child relates to and adapt. I had a friend whose son loved Spider Man so they decorated his room with Halloween spiderwebs to catch the monsters. When there weren’t any caught after a few nights, he realized there was nothing to be afraid of.

 

 

Call up some Fairy Friends:

My child believes in fairies, so I tell her the fairies are watching over her.. One day she told me shed had a bad dream about the monsters in her room but with her fairy friends help they turned them into puppies n flowers.

Make some fairy dust Sprinkle homemade fairy dust around the bedroom. Make a fairy door so fairies can come and go throughout the night. Sprinkle a pinch of “pixie dust” (baby powder) over the bed at night.

The fairies wrote my daughter a note saying they will look after her while she sleeps…. Bit of glitter in her room to seal the deal the next morning!

 

Charms and Chimes:

I know it sounds crazy but my son, on his own, took hair from my brush and placed it inside of a stuffy that had small hole it….when I found it and asked about it, he told me it kept bad dreams and such away cuz it was like having me in the room.

  • Make a lucky charm for your child to hold while she sleeps – a rock or a plastic crystal for example.
  • Hang a wind chime in the window and tinkle it to scare the monsters away before turning out the lights.
  • Invent a chant to say at bedtime: “Abracadabra, Allakazam, send the monsters to another land.”
  • Make a dream catcher and hang it in the window to trap bad dreams and ward off monsters.
  • Wash up and brush up: Some parents have had success by telling their children that monsters do not like the smell of toothpaste, shampoo or soap.  Bonus – your child will be eager to have his hair washed and brush his teeth!

IMG_4568 (1)

Power to the Parents:: “My husband is a Marine, so my son knows they can’t get past Papa’s perimeter. ”

Personally I found that entering the room ahead of my son and ‘gobbling up’ any monsters I see worked great. These events usually led to fits of giggles and asking what they taste like (cookies, of course)

And lastly, several moms reportedly have told their kid’s that they have nothing to worry about because “I’m your mom, and I’m a whole lot meaner than any monster could ever be!”

 

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Yours in play, Jackie from Happy Hooligans

6 comments to 40+ Ways to Help Kids Overcome Night Time Anxiety

  • what a great post, Jackie! Really! So much awesome info to fight those bedtime monsters.

  • I love how you structured this post and how these are tried and true tricks that others have used! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Sonni Cranford

    I yelled for the 13 year old big bro of my 3 year old…telling him to grab his baseball bat….I grabbed her pulling her out of the way, but staying where we could sort of see…..I told him there’s wo woes (her friend’s name for monsters which she adopted) He jumped into the drama, hitting the bed, floor, and wall with the bat…He yelled “don’t you ever bother my sister again”…He walked out of the room, looked at her and me and said…”they’re gone, they won’t be back” Now pretend monsters (I thought she might be faking) or “real”…they never did come back.

  • Dee

    I always told my boys that there is no way monsters would ever come into our house because we have so much love in our house. I said the monsters stay away when there’s lots of love in a house. ;)

  • MrsA

    Wow! You’re suggesting to watch Monsters Inc. I’ve been avoiding it because of my daughter’s fear of monsters, even though, from being a baby, we’ve been told she looks just like Boo.

  • Mary Freeland

    I found a crib blanket I made when he was a baby. I gave the monsters a warning that Drevyn had his “keep me safe” blanket on so they could not bother him or I would get THEM. He no longer comes to get in my bed because he is afraid.

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