Holidays

It’s Ghost & Goblin Season: What To Do When Halloween Causes NIGHTMARES For Your Kids

‘Tis the season for monsters!

Halloween is here and everywhere we look there are witches, skeletons, ghosts, and grim reapers. But is it ALL spook and death? While most things seem to be a walking horror movie, how does this really affect our little ones?

My kids learned more about the “Happy” part of Halloween from how it is depicted in the cartoons they watch everyday. They are filled with cute little songs about jack-o-lanterns and other stuff. I’d watch them closely and they never expressed any fear for the things they saw.

But overnight things changed…

One morning my daughter was crying when I told her to go potty. It was because she didn’t want to go to the bathroom alone because a monster would pop out and get her. So she’d ask her sister to accompany her.

The next incident involved a light in the hallway that was “Being MEAN!” My daughter screamed and cried about having to walk by the light. What the heck? They’ve been walking down this same hallway, switching on this light for more than two years now!

Then came bad dreams, and more crying. The icing on the cake came one night right at bedtime…

That’s the extra cuddly time, when no matter how hard the day was, I look at my kids full of love. I make sure the cover is wrapped tight around them and we sing our nighttime songs. I can’t leave out of the room without passing out MANY hugs and MANY kisses. After our final bit of love sharing, I tried to get up. Immediately one of my girls started to cry.

“Mommy I don’t want to close my eyes because I will see the MONSTERS!”

We’ve talked about monsters and bad dreams before, but my baby was terrified! What changed? What happened? What put this into their mind? I tried to talk her out of it, reminding her that it was just a dream, but she wouldn’t let me go. So I lay there with her and held her. The one thing that we did together in that moment was to pray and ask God to give her sweet dreams!

“God will give me sweet dreams mommy?”

“Yes He will.”

My baby trusted my words and finally calmed down.

I rubbed her face and kissed her one more time. Then I stood up, turned off the light and left the room. My heart was beating FAST and I couldn’t stop my mind from trying to figure out what the heck was going on! If I could punch those monsters in the throat I would! Sadly, I can’t put on a cape and protect her INSIDE her dreams, but I can definitely make sure nothing is feeding into them.

So the next day we totally SHOOK THINGS UP!
I’d already figured that the shows I allow them to watch were SAFE. But we never know how a toddlers brain computes or transforms the things they SEE. First, they stopped watching the old school black and white Mickey Mouse shows on Netflix. WHY? Because they often have large shadows and ghosts depicted. I took it so far as to limiting their screen time to only watching Super Why and Little Einsteins for now. I knew they taught education, not fear.

What else did we do? We walked through the house and talked about control. I showed them that the lights were under their CONTROL. If they want them off or on, they have the power to make it happen. We would randomly revisit this conversation throughout the day.

My girls started to have good dreams and when they woke up they would tell me ALL about them. They still have the occasional bad dream, and we talk about it, but they aren’t dominated by them nor are they afraid to go to sleep anymore.

Now that MONSTER SEASON is upon us, I’m just a little extra careful about things. Halloween doesn’t scare them, outwardly. But who knows what their little brains are storing in the back and having JUMP out when their mental defenses are down? They’ve even gotten good at looking away or asking if something will give them bad dreams.

So even though we are surrounded by the cute costumes, the monsters are there too. When I see the extra gory images or costumes in the stores, we U-TURN and go down another aisle!

I choose to do what I can to protect them and make them stronger in the light, so the monsters won’t cripple them with fear at night!

Happy Halloween! 

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