Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Night Terrors in Older Children


     



Recently our eldest daughter Amelie has been suffering from night terrors. She has been waking up a few times in the night and asking to come in our bed. I find she lays awake at night listening out for noises such as the floorboards creeking or the wind howling.
She has a new fear of walking past the window at night. She doesn't go to the bathroom or up to her room alone once it gets dark, all in all she is a complete scaredy cat!
The complete opposite to me as a child but very much like how my older sister was!

I usually think that there are probably not many other 8 year olds out there who are so scared of things like Amelie is, and that it is more of a 5/6 year old's fear, but after having a look online and reading other parents stories it is clear to see that Amelie isn't the only 8 year old who is scared at night!

I have included a bit of information i found online which might just help reassure other parents who are also going through the same thing with their children.



Why does my child have so many nighttime fears?

It might seem strange that a child who didn't have bedtime fears when she was a toddler or preschooler would be afraid of so many things — including the dark, monsters under the bed, and sleeping alone — now that she's older. But it makes sense from a developmental point of view. School-age kids understand the difference between reality and fantasy, but they have vivid imaginations that can sometimes run away with them.
Wider access to TV shows, videosbooks, and news reports can also mean your child is taking in more scary messages, often without you there to temper them. Her world is much bigger than it was when she was younger, and while this is exciting and fun during the day, it can be overwhelming and frightening by night.
Nighttime fear—of the dark, of separation from parents, of noises, and of bad people doing bodily harm —is a normal developmental stage that goes on much longer than parents expect, up until at least age 8 or 9," says Patricia Sheets, a professor of counseling education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. School-age children can fully grasp the fact that there are things in the world that can hurt them and that their parents can't always protect them.
This is also the age when fears of something terrible happening to Mom or Dad surface. And, like an adult, a child between the ages of 5 and 8 may have trouble shutting off her mental review of the day and preview of tomorrow. She may come to you complaining of a scary noise, for instance, but it might really be the war in Afghanistan the Middle East she heard classmates talking about that's scaring her.
Your job over the next ten years or so will be to help your child understand the difference between a real danger (accepting a ride from a stranger, or smoking cigarettes) and something that, disturbing though it may be, doesn't present an immediate or personal threat (a war being waged 5,000 miles away).

What can I do to help my child get over her night fears?

You may not be able to help her resolve her fears right now (since it's mostly a stage she'll have to outgrow), but there's a lot you can do to help her cope with her fears and get to sleep more easily. In the hours before bed, prime your child's mood with upbeat, non-violent stories or movies (even Harry Potter and Scooby-Doo may be too much for a child going through a particularly fearful period).
At bedtime, stick to a peaceful routine — a shower or bath, a gentle story or a few poems (or 15 minutes of independent reading), and maybe a song and a couple of minutes of silent vigil with you sitting by her bed. (Ask your local librarian for a list of books about kids dealing with bedtime fears, or see which bedtime books other BabyCenter parents recommend. One favorite to add to your list: Bedtime for Frances, by Russell Hoban.)
The lulling sameness of a bedtime ritual serves as a talisman of sorts, warding off evildoers and bad thoughts and easing the transition from wide-awake to sound asleep. A night-light or two may also make your child feel more secure.

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