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!