Bedtime fears

Everyone is afraid of something. The reason or reasons behind the fear may not be understood or explainable. Sometimes someone else’s fear causes us to be fearful.

I do wonder if that is what happened to me when I was six or seven years old.  Our family moved from our one bedroom apartment in Chicago to a bi-level house on a quiet street in the suburbs.   In the city my sister and I shared the hide-a-bed sofa in the “dining” room while our little brother slept in the crib in our parents’ room.  In our new house sis and I had twin beds in our own room, little brother had the middle bedroom to himself and our parents were at the end of the hall.  My sister developed some irrational fears.  It became so serious our parents considered taking her to a psychologist.  Not that they knew any psychologists.  In the early- mid 1960’s children were never taken to psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors.   That was something only movie stars and the mentally ill did.  My sister was overwhelmed by the lack of city noises to which she was accustomed.  She eventually acclimated and adjusted without a psychologist.T & C

Not long after she adjusted, I developed a strange bedtime habit of which my parents never knew. It was my sleep posture to bend my legs at the knees tucking the lower half of my legs under my thighs and my feet under my bottom.   In this position I would then tuck the covers under my knees.  In my childhood mind I reasoned that if a burglar came into my room and saw that I was handicapped, he would take pity on me and leave.  Probably as soon as I fell asleep, my body readjusted to a more comfortable pose.  I am quite thankful to still have healthy knees and lower legs.

Children are not rational.  Their experiences and knowledge are limited, thus limiting their logic and reasoning capacities.  Children and even adults often have ridiculous fears.  Spiders, crickets, thunder, fireworks, bedbugs, snakes, water, tests, public speaking, birds and dark showers (thank you Alfred Hitchcock), diseases, funerals, nightmares, strangers, and violence, are just a few.

As a young adult, I had frequent nightmares.  I decided the best thing I could do to avoid nightmares was to fill my mind with good thoughts before going to sleep.   I memorized scripture, which in my mind I would repeat over and over while going to sleep. I focused on Psalms 23, The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-12), and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11). I also would sing hymns and worship choruses in my mind.  These tools were a tremendous help to me.  Almost every night I still go to sleep singing a hymn.

When our children were young and had nightmares we taught them to sing  Jesus Loves Me to themselves either in their minds or quietly aloud.  This helped them to remember that God was with them, that He cared about them, and also that He is bigger than any boogie man.

I know a few people who literally or mentally make a list at bedtime of all the things for which they are thankful that day.  I think this is another great practice which helps our minds to be peaceful and invites sleep at bedtime.  A favorite blanket or stuffed animal can help, too.    DDTS

Everyone has their own fears.  Find out what yours is and try different methods to find comfort.  Maybe some of the suggestions here can help.

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