My 2 1/2 year old Warren is very independent. You will often hear him exclaim “I did it awwwllll myself” and “No, me do it. Me do it!” So it has come as a bit of a shock that recently he has been getting scared. Very scared.
It started as a bone chilling screech a week ago as he came up from the basement stairs. I was only around the corner from him but he saw something looking down the stairs into the basement that scared him so much he scared me as he gripped onto to me for dear life and cried, “I so scared mommy. I so scared. I saw a monster.” I comforted him. Explained it was probably just a shadow and held him as we walked through the basement to inspect. I wish I could say that was the end of it but it wasn’t.
Warren started seeing something in the bathroom as he looked straight ahead into his bedroom. He would scream in terror and crouch behind the vanity if I left the bathroom for even a moment. Now I am must sit on the edge of our tub the entire time he is there. I no longer leave the bedroom door open.
It can happen at any time of the day, no matter if I am in the room or not. He will suddenly scream and immediately search me out. Running to me, terrified and telling me he is so scared. This is not my normally self sufficient child. I am not used to him needing me in this way. While he has always been loving and enjoyed cuddling, he has never been clingy or easily frightened before.
He is my baby and I want to protect him. But I don’t know what I’m protecting him from. I believe he saw a shadow in the basement and that has made him overly sensitive. Whatever he believes he saw down there has put him on high alert everywhere he goes. He got so scared that now he is prone to anything that could look like something is there, is.
I do empathize with him, tell him that I’m here, that he is safe and that monsters aren’t real. They are just pretend. I give him hugs and kisses and then he is seemingly fine and goes back to whatever he was doing.
I know it is important that he learns to cope and so while he was frightened to go to bed, I have not slept in his room with him. (It is oh so tempting.) I don’t want him to become dependent upon me to sleep and start that as a routine. I have however tried to give him tools with which to deal with his fear and will go to him for reassurance whenever he calls for me.
He is currently sleeping with a child’s flashlight with his blankets over his head. He also has his favorite stuffed animals with which to hold for comfort. While it was hard that first night, since then he has expected this and is okay as long as he has his flashlight and animals.
I feel so sad. It breaks my heart to see my baby so afraid. I hope that this is something he will grow out of soon and would love to hear if you have gone through anything similar. Any great ideas or advice?