Is your child afraid to go to bed at night? Have you ever heard your child say there was a monster under the bed or something in the closet? Some times children can have overactive imaginations, however, other times there could be something there!
How to Calm Your Child’s Nighttime Fears
Dealing with fears are often common for children, especially at nighttime. Some characteristics of bedtime could cause anxiety in your little ones, being separated from parents, a dark quiet room, or even a thunderstorm. As I discussed in my post How to Help Your Child Understand Fact From Fiction, young children will try to explain the unknown by means of whatever information they have on hand sprinkled in with a little imagination.
Where do they get their information? It comes from the perception they have of life. What things are they hearing and seeing? Most importantly, what sort of things are they watching on a screen?
When children don’t know how to explain something, often their imaginations fill in the gaps.
ALl fears are valid
The best way to help calm your child’s nighttime fears is to not discredit their opinions. Whatever emotion your child is experiencing at the time is real to him or her. If they are afraid, simply saying that they shouldn’t be afraid doesn’t really change things. In the most loving way that you can, listen, ask questions, and listen again. If your child says, there is a monster under the bed, say something like,
“Really? I wonder how it got there? How do you know about monsters? Did you see one on T.V.? Guess what, I am not afraid of monsters at all, do you know why? Because Jesus loves me! He loves you too! Because Jesus is ALL GOOD and ALL POWERFUL He will protect us from anything that might seem scary. The Bible says that all we have to do is call out Jesus name and anything that is around us that is not on His team has to leave. It actually says that it will FLEE, which means to run away scared! So how about we scare the scary stuff out of here!’
Get your Bible out and read to your child about God’s power. There is no better time to teach your children about God’s love and who He is in their lives than when they are going through a crisis and need some answers.
An open door is all it takes
Actually the whole door doesn’t have to be open, just a crack will suffice. One little crack is all it takes to allow fear to enter into our thoughts. Once fear gets some footing, it can begin to take root in our minds and set up a party. The Bible says that fear has torments or punishments and that is exactly what it feels like when fear starts to control our thoughts. That same Scripture says, however, that perfect love (the kind Jesus has for us) casts out all fear!
I have two personal stories that I think would be beneficial to tell here. One was how I overcame a nighttime torment, and the other one is how I once had a wrestling match with the devil over my son.
my nighttime fears of vampires
When I was young, let’s say between 7 and 10 years old, one of my sisters and I had bunk beds in the corner the family room in our house. Late in the evening, my dad and older sisters would sometimes watch Shock Theater. All I can really remember is that it was scary shows about detectives solving crimes with monsters as the villains. I developed a fear; not of going to bed but of the nightmares I would have at night. In my dreams, my two biggest fears would manifest, vampires and being kidnapped. The worst dream, I can still remember it was being kidnapped by vampires! (I smile a little while writing this now but at the time it was VERY real and serious.)
A coffin of animals and the duct tape cross.
I have always been a problem solver and a little feisty, that could be because I am the youngest of four, or it’s just the way God made me. Well, I had a problem to solve! I needed to be protected at night so I sought the things that brought me comfort (stuffed animals) and something I had seen work on TV (a cross). My new bedtime ritual became going to my sister’s rooms and taking all the stuffed animals that I could find (especially the really big ones). I would meticulously surround myself with a wall of stuffed animals and lay in the middle of them. For added protection, I made a cross out of silver duct tape and slept with it on my chest.
I’m not sure how long this ritual went on, but I do remember the one morning my mom found me lying there in what she said looked like a coffin of stuffed animals with my arms crossed over my chest while clasping my duct tape cross. She was a little freaked out, to say the least.
Once my oldest sister went away to college, we moved from the family room to a bed room. It was in this room where the door opened wide and I did see a “monster”; not under my bed but it came out of the wall and lunged towards me. I was not yet asleep so I ran out of the room to tell everyone who was still awake. My sisters laughed and teased, I don’t really remember what my parents did, but I, guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, turned to the only place I knew to go…the Bible.
For years after that night, I would go to sleep with a little bedtime devotional book I bought at Bible Summer Camp called Little Pillows. I skipped around in the book but most every night I would read the one entitled “My Comforter”. No one talked much about spiritual warfare in those days, however, I had a relationship with Christ at a young age and My Comforter directed me away from my fears through victory in His name.
Calming my sons nighttime fears and chasing away the devil
I will try and make this short but I think the story is worth telling. Sometimes the monster under the bed is real but we have the power to defeat him. Fast forwarding quite a bit, I am a single mom living back in my parent’s house. My son was about three years old and had just been playing in the room while the Wizard of Oz was on the TV. I had been on a long “important” phone conversation with a friend solving all of life’s problems.
Here is how the evening played out, after I had put him to bed.
“MOMMY! MOMMY! There are sharp things in my room!”
I console him, take him out of his room, put him in my bed, and said a goodnight prayer. When I started praying he put his hands on his ears and told me to stop. I left and prayed in the hallway out side the room until I heard his little sweet voice say, “Mommeee…I neeeed you….” I went back in and tried to pray. He put his hands over his ears and screamed for me to stop. This went on for several more times, each time my heart got a little more anxious. Not knowing what to do but feeling as though I might be in some sort of spiritual battle, I got my Bible and started reading the book of Ephesians in the room next to him.
He then cried out “MOMMY! Those words you are saying are hurting me!”
Well that really made me mad so I pulled on my armor and went to war. I continued reading the book of Ephesians as loud as I could from out in the hall. A few more chapters in and the battle was over. He called me back in as though nothing had ever happened, we said good night prayers, he hugged me and went right to sleep. It never happened again!
how to calm your child’s nighttime fears?
- Listen and believe what your child is telling you.
- See if you can find the crack – How did the fear enter? Was it something they have seen on TV, a moment when they felt lost or got separated from you in a store, or maybe the sounds of a thunderstorm. Knowing where the fear is coming from will help you and your child defeat it by shedding the light of God’s Word on the situation.
- Pray and Hold on to God’s Promises of protection with your child, meaning teach them to use the Word as a weapon.
- Make your faith active!
taking Active steps to calm your child’s nighttime fears
Here are some active things you can do to calm your child’s nighttime fears. The great thing about this is that once children are empowered to conquer one kind of fear, they will have more tools in their belt or stones in their sling to bring down other fearful giants in their future.
- Write out some Bible verses that tell of God’s strength and power or draw pictures of God protecting you and hang them on the wall. Let them know that Jesus loves them certainly, but also how powerful He is. That He is a God who stirs Himself up and comes as a warrior to fight for us, stuff like that!!
- Design a white pillow case with a sharpie and a great nighttime verse.
I will lie and sleep in peace for you alone, oh Lord, keep me safe. Psalms 4:8
- Get some anointing oil and put in on the door frame, window, or even their foreheads. Make sure to tell them that there is nothing magic about the oil. There are lots of little magic sprays you can buy for kids to spray in their rooms that I would not advise. It is so much better to just give them real power than to have them put their faith and trust in something man made. You can say that the oil smells like Jesus, so it will remind us or anything else of God’s rules and power when they smell it. It is God’s rule that scary things that are not on His team have to leave us alone and go away when we call out Jesus’ name.
- Make a Mezuzah – an ornament that hangs on the door with scripture about God’s protection. (look for more on this to come soon!)
I know this post was a little long but i wanted to share those stories with you in case you had similar stories of your own.
If so, I would love to hear how you defeated the monster under your bed with God’s Word!
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From our family to yours,