Spike has never been scared of the dark. She always went to bed in a dark room with the door open a tiny bit, with the landing light turned down low. It’s never been an issue. Until now.
Starting school, moving house, who knows
A fear of the dark came about in early September. It coincided with starting school, but we also moved house 3 weeks previously. So it could have been caused by either thing, or neither. Everything I’ve read says that 4 year olds can often suddenly develop an irrational fear of the dark, which apparently goes with time in most cases.
I’ve written before about Spike’s bedtime stalling habits. But they are getting worse, with mood swings in full force by the time it comes to actually getting into bed. For the most part we’re patient with her, but there does have to be a line with the patience at some point and we found that Simple ignoring her behaviour and carrying on with the bedtime routine as undisrupted as possible is the way forward.
Recently there has been a number of occasions where Spike has been that tired she’s asked not to be read a bedtime story. This breaks my heart every time but I just take the hit and tuck her in. Despite this though, she’ll still cry as I go to leave the room. She asks for the door to be left wider, the light to be brighter out on the landing (we have dimmable lighting) or for me not to leave.
Reassurance for bedtime
I read online that one of the worst things you can do is disregard the fear that your child develops. Instead reassure them that they are safe. And reassure them that you are near by. One of the things recommended was the idea of telling your child that you will check on them in x amount of minutes.
Check on me in 5 minutes?
It was recommended to say 5 minutes for the check up time. But knowing Spike I figured that would lead to 5 minutes of her counting to 5 and shouting me asking if it had been 5 minutes yet. So I told her 20 the first night. Within 5 she was asleep. The next night gathered a few questions first, but as soon as I stopped answering she was asleep within 5. Since though, she’s been asking for it to be reduced to 5 minutes. I’ve agreed a few times and low and behold – I never have to check on her… she’s well and truly asleep by the 5 minute mark.
All this hasn’t helped that much with Spike’s tiredness and I think starting school has really taken its toll. She’s currently going to bed around 7:30-8pm and getting up at 7am. A good 11 hours, sometimes more, with a wake up in between – naturally… she’s never been good at sleeping through! We might have to up it if the tiredness continues after half term as she’s really struggling. But that’s a post for another day. For now, at least we hopefully (fingers crossed) have the going to bed thing sorted!