Friday, June 10, 2011

Afraid of the dark

What do you do with a toddler who is afraid of the dark?

I've mentioned before Zev's refusal to go to bed at a 'decent' time.  At first, I believe it was because he had been getting very little parent-child time and didn't want to miss out on the 'fun' mommy and daddy were having downstairs after he went to bed.

(yeah, fun.  Both of us exhausted, and trust me, there was no 'fun' being had if he was refusing to go to bed...)

Our 'solution' until a few weeks ago had been to turn off all the lights downstairs and watch some television while he laid down on Jason.  Eventually he would be too tired to refuse, and he would be brought upstairs.  But Iif he was brought up too early, even if he said he wanted to go, he would just come right back downstairs: "Don't want to go to bed".  My fear in arguing has always been waking up his sisters, so I generally wimp out and let him stay up pretty late.

But that isn't working anymore.  And now it has become something else.  He has mentioned 'the shadow' for about a year.  Being far more verbal now that he's older, he has been able to say that he doesn't like the shadows in his room.  He will point them out and be obviously very afraid.  We've tried blocking the shadows with various objects, using different lights, distracting him with his new overhead fan or books, telling him that his 'bear' and 'tiger' will keep him safe...  but every night its a battle.  Jason talked to his teachers at daycare, and they said they were pretty surprised that someone his age (so young) would have enough imagination to be afraid of the usually doesn't happen until children are a bit older.

Great.  My son has to be 'advanced' in such a way that screws us over.

I do have to add that I feel horrible for him.  He's obviously frightened, although I'm sure part of it is a manipulation to stay downstairs as long as possible.  But at 3am when he wakes up and comes into our room wimpering because he doesn't want to be in bed, its hard to be sympathetic given that I'm up before 5am.  Which of course just makes me feel like a horrible person.

Anyway, the teacher suggested we introduce flashlights to him and let him 'play' with shadows so he understands what they are and that they cannot hurt him.  We bought one for him to use at daycare and they are going to work on it with him.  He loves it of course; he's seen flashlights before and loves the big utility flashlight Jason has.

Hopefully this will make things easier.  Because as I said, we aren't having 'fun' in the evenings if he is refusing to go to bed until we do.  Hell, I'd like to just have some nice time with my husband watching some stupid movie on the couch.  Or having an adult conversation without hearing "Mommy, watch me!!" as he does something utterly random, the purpose of which is just to make sure he stays in the center of my attention.

"Trust me, Zev.  I'm always watching you"

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