Tag Archive | helping children deal with fears

Good night, sleep tight! Create a night-light!

“Goodnight kittens and goodnight mittens

Goodnight clocks and goodnight socks

Goodnight little house and goodnight mouse

Goodnight comb and goodnight brush

Goodnight nobody/ Goodnight mush

And Goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”

Goodnight stars/ Goodnight air

Goodnight noises everywhere”

Excerpt from Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, 1947

I read this book to my children every night when they were babies and toddlers.  It was part of their bedtime ritual that soothed them before going to sleep.  The book was a present after the birth of my daughter.  Now that they are older, bedtime can be more difficult.  Sometimes I laugh at the craziness!   Regarding the difficulty, I’m not just talking about wanting to stay up later or needing “one more” drink of water.  I am talking about fears.  Fears of the dark and monsters that hide under the bed.  Especially for my five-year-old.  My son will ask me before going to sleep, “Mommy, are zombies real?”

I think that question originated from the zombies in Minecraft.  (His new favorite game.)  My son needs to have his Star Wars Light Saber night-light on before saying good-night.  He also has stars that project onto the ceiling.  (Something I wish they had when I was little.)   I remember having fears at his age, but I had a 10 pound dog that slept with me very single night.  Although she was the tiniest dog, I believed Sam would protect me.  She had a huge personality!  My younger sister, Melissa, also had fears as a child.  My mom and dad would put Melissa in my bed after she would go into their room during the middle of the night.  They were sneaky!

Fears are common at this age, especially with children who are grieving.  We addressed this topic in our bereavement support group by creating pillow cases in October.  We needed to have another activity on this topic.  Shari Glaskin, a wonderful facilitator in our group, created a fun activity to cope with this issue.  Our group constructed night-lights at our last meeting and it was a huge success!

We created the night-lights using mason jars with lids.  Try to find jars that have a smooth glass.  For the lights, we used battery operated tea lights.  You can find jars and tea lights at a craft store or Target.  We also used foam stickers, window markers, and sharpies.  In my opinion, the window markers were on the messy side.  However, they were washable and rinsed off easily on their hands.  The sharpies are permanent, so be careful about getting it on your clothes and hands.

After they decorated the jar, we used a small piece of Crayola modeling clay to create a holder for the tea light.  The holder will be placed on the bottom of the jar.  We made sure the tea holder fit, took the tea light out, and allowed the clay to dry.  Before they left to go home, they placed the tea lights back in their jars.  The clay does not take long to dry.

The children were so excited about their new night-lights and they were easy to make.  This would be a simple project to complete at home.  I plan on having my own kids make these on a day off from school.

Have fun making your night lights.  I promise they will be excited about going to sleep!  Please e-mail a picture of your finished night-light.  I would LOVE to post them on my website and Facebook page.  My e-mail is listed below the pictures.


E-mail pictures to patrasjoni@yahoo.com


Scared of Monsters and Ghosts

“Sometimes I’m scared of monsters and ghosts.  I’m not scared when I see that they aren’t real.”

Excerpt from the I’m Not Scared Book by Todd Parr


Belle, our chocolate Labradoodle, developed a fear.  We own a dog that is terrified of going on walks!  I should clarify that this fear is restricted to our neighborhood.  My sister watched Belle for a few days in the summer at her house and she enjoyed walking.  For a period of time, she would not even leave my yard.  Sometimes, Belle will walk around our circle, but then stops every time I try to walk up the street.  She becomes a statue and I can’t get my scared dog to move an inch!   Hopefully, one day, Belle will become comfortable walking around our neighborhood again.  At the moment; however, we are limited to our short circle walks.

I have my own share of fears.  Spiders and heights.  My fear of heights was finally conquered at the age of 29 when I went skydiving with two best friends.  Needless to say, you probably will never see me skydiving again!  The conversation of “fears” is a common topic with children.  Monsters, the dark, and ghosts often rank high on the list.  Nightmares are typical in young children.  We recently covered the topic of fears in our grief support group for children ages 7 to 9.  A parent or teacher may notice fears develop in children who are grieving.  For example, a child who experienced a father’s death may now fear the death of his or her mother.

Six ways to help children who are experiencing fears:

1.  Decorate a plain pillowcase with fabric markers.    We recently used this activity two weeks ago in our group.  The kids loved it!  They were excited to go to sleep that night!  Some children drew relaxing pictures.  (The beach, clouds, stars.)  Other children drew pictures of things/people who help them to feel happy.  (Puppies, rainbows, family members.)

2.  Encourage your child to discuss the nightmare.  Don’t just say, “It was just a dream….forget about it.”  Instead say, “Tell me about your dream.  Were there any people or animals in it?  How did you feel in your dream?” Documenting the details in the nightmare may reveal a pattern that is associated with the loss.

3.  Turn “scary” into “funny.”  The kids in our group had fun with this one during the pillowcase activity.  They drew pictures of their nightmares by adding funny details.  A few had watched the Harry Potter movies and recalled a scene in the Prisoner of Azkaban.  A creature in a box popped out and turned into the person’s greatest fear.  Then, the person had to use a spell to turn the fear into a funny image.  Have your child make up a new version of the nightmare that has a funny scenario.  Click on the link below to view the scene from the movie:

4.  Relaxation.  Apps for the I-PAP/ I-POD.  I discovered a cool app to use with kids, even adults!  It is called Relax Melodies.  You pick the sounds and create your own relaxing music.  I particularly love the “campfire” and “rainstorm” sounds.  You have 50 to choose from.  Icy snow, afternoon, seaside, frogs, cavern, and butterfly are some choices.  I play this app in our group while they are completing an activity and they enjoy choosing the sounds.  It is a great way to fall asleep as you pretend to be listening to the ocean.  The link to the free app is listed below:


5.  Reassure your child that he or she is safe.  My own kids have night lights and my daughter even has a pillow that lights up, then shuts off after a certain amount of time.

6.  Teach your child that a little fear can be helpful/ too much fear can be hurtful.  For example, a little fear will help you practice more for a piano recital because you fear of playing the wrong notes.  I explained fear to our support group by having each child write a fear on a bug.  We talked about how having a large amount of fear can make you feel “stuck.”   It might feel like you are stuck in a spider web.  You can’t move or think.  You feel frozen with fear.  We then placed our bugs onto a big spider web.  As a conclusion, the group discussed what it means to be “brave” and ways they have been brave for themselves or for someone else.  When you act brave, you will never feel trapped in a web.