My three year old daughter Meg had a nightmare a couple of weeks ago. She keeps talking about bears and wolves and is afraid to go to bed at night. We have reassured her but she screams and cries at bedtime. We have been letting her go to sleep on the couch and putting her to bed after she is asleep. Any suggestions on ways to reassure her?
Three year olds can be pretty dramatic when they are fearful. Meg thinks she has a valid reason for being afraid but at this age kids pretty much will take whatever their parents say to be the truth.
You might want to help her attack and kill these imaginary bears and wolves. Get Meg involved in a way to do this. Tap into her imagination and help her get control of her fears by letting her attack her imaginary animals before she goes to bed. She may imagine them to be under the bed or in the closet so you could help her find them and do away with them.
Make it a nightly ritual to find and fight these animals until she reassures herself that they are all conquered. She could then be brave enough and begin to see this exercise as a nightly game. For a while you may need to sit with her in the bedroom until she falls asleep . If you haven’t used a night light before, this would certainly help so that she can see that all is well.
Move slowly and don’t force Meg into anything that she’s not ready for. Let her take her time to overcome her fears.