Monday, January 05, 2009
Nightmares of Bat Child- Help!

Image by JOSHUA HOFFINE PHOTOGRAPHY

Snuggle Bug has been suffering from some pretty terrifying nightmares lately.  It started about a week ago, he came racing into our room in the middle of the night terrified and crying!  He scrambled into our bed and plastered himself to my side, his little heart slamming furiously against his ribcage!  All I could get out of him is that he was afraid of "Bat Child."  It took him a while to fall asleep, even in our bed.

Bat Child is a friendly character out of a Halloween book by Mercer Mayer.  I haven't read that book to him since about Halloween.  For some reason, Bat Child is now a terror to him.

For the past week he's cried when we get him into his bed for the evening.  He wants me to hold him like a baby and rock him for as long as I'll allow it.  He wants me to sing to him.  He wants me to hold his hand.  He wants me to lay next to him.  He does everything in his power to stall having to be alone in his room at night time.

I know that his fears are real, that he's not just trying to avoid going to bed, because I see the terror in his eyes and his tears are real.  He insists on sleeping with the light fully on and I don't dare try to turn it down (we have a dimmer switch light in his room) after he's gone to sleep because he realizes it when we wakes up in the middle of the night.  His night light that he's had for quite some is no longer enough.

I've tried comforting him.  I've tried chasing out Bat Child and telling him to go away and never come back.  I've pulled objects out of the room that he's said scare him.  I've walked through every inch of Snuggle Bug's room to show him it's safe.  I've assured him that our house is safe, that Mommy and Daddy are here to protect him, that we won't leave him alone and we won't let anything happen to him.  I've offered to let one of our two cats sleep in his room to help keep Bat Child away.

Nothing seems to work.  This poor child stays awake like a zombie until his body betrays him and exhaustion takes over and he falls asleep.  And if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he comes into our bed crying.

Please, I need some advice!  Is there anything else I can do to help him?  Is this "normal" for a new four year old to be going through?  Our life has been pretty consistent for him.  The only thing I can think of that might have triggered his nightmares is maybe he's picking up on our stress (we've been mighty stressed about Boo's case and we're loosing sleep ourselves over it).

Snuggle Bug has his 4 year well-check this week.  I'm going to talk to his pediatrician about it and see what he thinks but I'd appreciate your input as well!

Thanks!

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6:00 AM
14 comments


14 Comments:
At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Monica said...

When I was little and had nightmares, I had a night light and whenever I woke in the middle of the night, my mom did this special thing. She grabbed my head with her hands (gentle but with a bit of force to make it serious) and said Bad Dreams Go AWAY and would "pull" the dreams "out" of my head. She'd do this a couple times for good measure.

Also, if it's a particular spot that's bothering Snuggle Bug, such as under the bed (I also had that too -- I would run and jump into bed so that it wouldn't grab my legs), you could always put his mattress straight on the floor or a bedframe that doesn't have a gap (like one with drawers in the bottom).

Good luck!

 
At 7:09 AM, Blogger marna said...

My Mia had a very rough time with nightmares as well as night terrors. She went through so much as a foster child, that she had reasons that supported it. She often slept in our room on the floor. DSS would not let a foster child sleep in bed with foster parents. So we made her a bed in a corner of the room on the floor, with their approval. She had therapy from 3 til 13 years of age. Nothing helped to rid her of her anxiety. She has PTSD from her early traumas. We learned how to help her cope with it.
To this day, when she is stressed she sleeps in with us (She's almost 15). We do whatever it takes to calm her anxieties, even to this day.
You are all going through trying times. We had to endure 19 months of agony while suing the state for custody of our precious Mia.
Look within your heart. You will know what you need to get through each day. Snuggle bug and Boo are well loved. That's what is important.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Lovingmyamazinglife said...

We have used spray bottles with just water in them,and write "_____away" on it.The child or parent can squart the room before as a type of bug spray killing off the monster.Or a contraption like a box,were you go in and make a big fuss about catching the thing in the box and ridding the room of it,put it outside in the garbage.Aside from those things above,just time,it will pass,our oldest child did this about once a week,and would sneak into our room until about age 12,sleeping on the floor in her sleeping bag.Lots of reasurance and with time it will pass.Poor kiddo and parents,losing sleep is hard.

Also about your comment on my blog,thanks for the well wishes and about your case,wow!Our kiddo has been in care since 11 days old,(3+ yrs)so this has been a long road for her,I am thankful to the(weird)former fosters for sticking in their for her,I have not heard anything on if we will still need a visit,we continue to get letters every 4 days,and this wk I am faxing copies to the Sw.Allthough she may be legally free on Friday,we won't feel safe until we have it in writing,and we know things can change so fast.The mom surrendered her rights 10 months ago,dad did last week,if he doesn't change his mind,that means were all clear.I know if this works out,we were lucky.Lucky to have gotten in on the tail end of the story,not the prior 3 yrs of heck the other fosters had to endure w/ visitations etc.I can't believe they would allow and Aunt visits who doesn't even know her,this makes me so mad!Can you prove this will mess her up,would they even care?

 
At 5:38 PM, Blogger Lovingmyamazinglife said...

Yes,former fosters are 72 yrs old.Just a wee bit older than us.haha

Our kiddo went back to birthmom twice,another fosterhome for a month,then to the former fosters.She last saw mom 5 months ago,but is so young she doesn't really remember her now.I feel sorry for boo,as now she will have the aunt to get to know,then maybe mom again,its so frustrating,and just pointless for these kids to suffer like this.

 
At 6:27 PM, Blogger Mary said...

I am wondering if Snuggle Bug is stressed over things he can't name--Baby Bug leaving your family and the situation with Boo. Kids have radar to pick up on things but lack coping skills. I wonder if you ask him not around bedtime, but in the middle of the day to name scary things if he could tell you what is bugging him? Alternatively, when my kid (now 28 years old) was going through a growth spurt at 3, he had night terrors and we never found a cause for them and he just grew out of them.

 
At 6:54 PM, Blogger Amy said...

I was going to suggest the same thing as a previous poster... a spray bottle of water to use as a monster repellant. Actually, I was thinking of one with some lavender in it to further encourage sleep. Good luck!

 
At 6:54 PM, Blogger QuEEn oF tHe cAstLe said...

Pray with him before bed. Especially that bad dreams will go away and special angels will protect him as he sleeps. I'll be praying every time I think of him.

 
At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Dawnie said...

My youngest son had night terrors. He'd wake up crying and terrified. Whatever is frightening them seems so real. I would hold him close and hug him until his little body stopped shaking. I know it must break your heart as it did mine. So here's something that worked wonders. I always read to him before bedtime. But I came up with a new twist on that. I made up a story about something he loved. It was all about a king (Daddy), a queen (Mommy...me), and a prince (him) who was also a very brave knight. Each bedtime we would take turns adding to the story. The characters were a wizard, a fairy, a magical horse, and so on. The fun part was that all the characters were named after family and friends. Knowing they'd protect him made him feel safe. We continued to do this for years even though the nightmares had stopped within a few weeks. I don't know who enjoyed it more...him or me! He would look forward to our "story" every night. It helped to relax him and have him thinking good thoughts before he'd drift off. He's 15 yrs old now and still remembers the entire tale. I didn't realize at the time how special a memory we were actually creating. If you try this I hope it helps. I wish you well and I'll say a few extra prayers :-)

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Heidi @ GGIP said...

My child has had nightmares many times. We have quite a routine in our house and we just repeat it when he is up at night and that seems to comfort him.

Much luck!

 
At 2:11 AM, Blogger UKZoe said...

I have to say that even if you think he's not aware of the stress you are under with Boo's case, that children are incredibly empathetic and can and will pick up on the emotional temperature and therefore stress levels of a household even if they don't know the reasons. This is actually even more confusing for them. They know what they can FEEL, but they have no reason they can understand and so they find something to blame for the feelings, that they can deal with. Does that make sense?

It doesn't help you sort it out but it might help you understand it and I think the other commenters have given good advice too.

 
At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Lori4squaremom said...

OW, when my children have nightmares, I always pray with them. I pray that Jesus would replace the icky dreams with dreams of Himself, and this has always comforted my kiddos...esp. after some cuddle time with Mom & Dad or getting to sleep "in their nest" which is a padd of blankets that we used to keep under the bed and they could pull it out and sleep there if they didn't want to sleep with MOm & Dad. My teens tend to go to the couch now when they have bad dreams rather than waking me up.

Praying for you to find some answers and solutions! But prayer has always worked for us :)

Blessings,
Lori4squaremom

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger Kathleen Marie said...

I know you probably pray with Boo...When my eldest had nightmares my sister and I sprinkled Holy Water we got from the priest around her room then around the house and declared Jesus protection in the room and around the house...

This really seemed to work. I also taught my kids when they were old enough to understand that they control there dreams and the outcome. I learned to do this for me first and then taught my kids so if a dream is going the wrong direction while I am dreaming I change the direction "of the dream story" to give it a new ending.

Mercer Mayer is an author I like but my kids overall didn't care for them. Tara never liked the "monsters" so I'd read other books at bed time.

Maybe if you could find children's stories about dreams but read them during the day to him?

Praying all turns out well soon. God Bless!

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger April said...

Hello! I am a long time lurker but really felt compelled to post on this one. My 4 yr old daughter has this issue as well. My solution may seem a little strange at first, but it worked amazingly for us. Ever seen the movie Monsters, Inc? Well, when things got to be so bad she wouldn't sleep I popped that movie in and watched it with her.. and we discussed it in a fun way during the movie. The themes in the movie are perfect - Monsters are terified of children and would never touch them, but need to scare them to power their city and in the end they learn that making kiddos laugh is much more effective. Anyways, after watching the movie and getting her her own "Sully" doll to sleep with we never again had an issue. I think it is important though to watch with them and comment throughout. My kiddo who used to be terrified of something in her closet, not doesn't even need a nightlight. This worked for us, might not for you.. but I think the whole concepy of turning monsters from scary things into friendly things is awesome. Thank goodness for MOnsters, Inc lol. Good luck!

 
At 12:57 PM, Blogger Crissybug said...

I know you have already got alot of comments on this issue, but I thought I would pass this post along. My Caden gets scared at night. I used this technique with him last nigh, and it worked wonderfully!

http://findjoytoday.blogspot.com/2009/01/its-just-penguin.html

 

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