Saturday, December 10, 2011

Afraid of the Dark

My heart has finally settled down. About half an hour ago, I was on edge because my poor 2 year old son was screaming in his bed because of a fear that he has recently developed. I can't say that I understand it but something about his bedroom door, whether it's opened or closed, terrifies him at night. I don't know if it's the shadows or... really, I can't think of anything else it could possibly be. I can't wait until his speech is clearer and he can tell me what exactly it is that scares him. It breaks my heart to hear him cry like that and know that something is frightening him.

My 3 year old daughter is afraid of the dark. Often, I will wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of her getting up and turning her bedroom light on just so she can go back to sleep with out being in the dark. She's told me on more than one occasion that the dark scares her.

I had very similar fears when I was little. To this very day, I hate being in the dark. I like to crack a curtain at night so the street light shines through the window into my room. Well, I really only do this when the hubby is out of town on business. When he's home, I feel safer and he can't seem to sleep with ANY light. When I was a kid, I used to dread going up to my grandfather's house in New Hampshire during the summer. Something about his air conditioner made it rattle. I didn't know what the sound was coming from back then but in my mind, I developed this incredibly creepy looking monster that hid behind the couch and I called him "The Rattle Monster". It would take me HOURS to fall asleep at his house because I was so terrified. My parents say that I rarely got scared and went into their room as a kid. Only part of that is true. I got scared a lot. However, I was SO scared that I didn't dare to get out of bed and run to their room because then I'd be out in the open and what ever was out there could get me. I couldn't tell you for the life of me what exactly it was that I was afraid of. The basement used to freak me out too. At the house we lived in when I was in elementary school had a basement that my parents had been able to finish most of. The part that they never got to though scared the living daylights out of me. It was my chore to vacuum and when I went downstairs to vacuum, I never turned my back to the part of the basement that freaked me out. And I'm sure that more than once, I just kinda "spot swept" the floors.

I've never liked watching scary movies either. I remember watching The Ring in college. There were a whole bunch of us in the room watching it and this included my little sister who was visiting for the weekend. I didn't sleep that whole night. At one point, while crammed into the tiny dorm bed that I was sharing with my sister, I purposefully "accidentally" nearly rolled her off the bed so she'd wake up and talk to me so I wouldn't be so scared. She knew I am a total chicken butt because the only thing she did was say, "Abby, go back to bed. Nothing in the movie was real." It bugs me that previews for scary movies will show some really freaky stuff on TV. If I know that that's what's being previewed, I wont look at the television. And it bothers my that there's a chance that the kids may get a glimpse of something gross or creepy.

It breaks my heart that my children are developing fears. I think it upsets me so much because I know what they're going through and I know how genuinely terrified they can get. Even if it's over the silliest things. Things that DON'T exist. What bothers me the most though, is that I haven't the slightest clue how to help them overcome these fears as children. If they're like me, they've got overactive imaginations and then anything is possible. They can create any number of monsters or scenarios in their heads. I wish I knew what to do to save them sleepless nights of sweating and trembling under their blankets like I did. I wish I knew how to help them realize that God is bigger than anything they're afraid of and that they don't need to worry because He'll NEVER let anything bad happen to them. My instinct as a mother is to protect my children. But in this situation, I don't know how.

As usual, the only answer I can come up with is prayer. Lots of prayer. Begging for God to save my children from their own imaginations. For His mercy and that He will cultivate in them attitudes of strength and courage and not of fear and timidity. Lots and lots of prayer.

3 comments:

  1. I was, and am, the same way. I slept with a nightlight until college! I remember watching the Ring and Darkness Falls when we were roomies... so scary! Maybe give your kids some big stuffed animals and a bright night light or two to helop them through. Helped me cope a bit. Also, make sure where ever there bed is that it is facing the door, it always was worse if I couldn't see the door.

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  2. Maybe placing a big friendly drawing or toy on the door can help make it seem more "friendly" during bedtime?

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  3. The Bearenstain Bears book series has a few great books that cover common childhood fears. One is called Afraid of the dark. Another one that's great is The bad dream. We started reading them to my daughter Faith when she was 3yrs old and she loved them so much we now own agazillion of them. And yes prayer is certainly important as well. In fact our girls pray every night for God to help them have a good night of sleep. Faith likes to organize her stuffed animals all around her just right (as her protectors) and both girls listen to soft Christian lullabies on their nightstand cd player while they drift off to sleep. Good luck with your kiddos. I know how heart breaking it is to see them so afraid.


    Hugs,
    Rosann

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