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Bedtime Bravery

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Lately, our 5-year-old has been crying for either me or her daddy to come and “visit” with her when it’s time for bed. This “visit” is her feeble attempt to get one of us to lie down with her until she goes to sleep. It is also AFTER we have done the entire bedtime routine: teeth brushing, cleaning up, jammies on and stories read.

We leave her room and find her crying her way back into our arms within just a few moments. She says, “My brain is making me think scary thoughts” or “I had a bad dream.” OK, we have only been out of sight for no more than 10 minutes. She has not fallen asleep. I know what this is. It’s me when I was little.

I remember that age. I always jumped onto my bed with no less than a foot of floor between my starting point and the edge of the bed, because, as we all know, monsters can’t grab you if you are more than a foot away from your bed. I never looked under the bed, always had the door closed, but I slept in complete darkness. Any light coming through always bothered me and I couldn’t sleep. But, aside from that, I always monster proofed my room.

So, this may be the start of that for my daughter. She has recently started asking me to close her closet door, leave the door wide open and the bathroom light on. We have convinced her that we can’t have all the lights in the house on. We haven’t been lying down with her, but we would go “visit” with her until she felt confident enough to go to sleep. But, it was last night that I made my stand.

She came running and screaming from her room like someone crawled out from under her bed. Daddy had already threatened to turn her night-light off the next time she got out of bed, so as soon as he stood up to see what was the matter, she ran back to her room screaming for him not to turn it off. I decided to go have a talk with her.

I calmed her down and asked her what was the matter. Same as the usual, scared of sleeping by herself and afraid of the dark. I explained to her that she has more light in her room than that of her baby brother and she had nothing to worry about. It was plenty bright in her room. Then a thought came to me. She loves princesses. So, here’s what I said:

“Princesses are very brave. When they were little girls, they were afraid of the evil queens. But, they were strong and brave and grew up. How else do you think they were able to defeat the evil queens? You are going to grow up and be brave like a princess, right? So you can sleep in your own bed like the princesses did, right?”

She agreed. She rolled over and started to close her eyes to go to sleep.

So, the idea that finally came to me should have come a lot sooner. I now know that I need to take topics/items that she is accustomed to and use that to my advantage. It will help her understand things a little more clearly, too. I finally convinced her that bedtime needs bravery, and that’s the stuff princesses are made of. Let us just hope that she can do the same hence forth.

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of two with baby number three on the way!

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