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My 4-year-old has been having a hard time sleeping lately. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but rarely a night goes by without her screams yanking me awake. By the time I stumble into her room, she’s sobbing with fear, stuck in a space between sleep and wakefulness, unable to communicate what’s happening. I snuggle her, tuck her back into bed, and say a silent prayer that she doesn’t wake again until morning.

We were sitting on the couch the other day when she told me that she’s scared of the night monsters. AHA! We were finally on to something. I had found my nemesis, and I readied myself for battle. My mind immediately began scanning back through the various articles and parenting books I have read over the years for ideas on how to destroy my latest foe.

Dream catchers. They were the first thing to come to mind. I bought one for each of my girls last year on a trip to New Mexico. I never got around to hanging them up; now was the time to dig them out again. Also, I read somewhere about filling a spray bottle with water and labeling it “Monster Spray” and letting your child spray the room. That could definitely work. Maybe I could also find her a special blanket? I remembered feeling safe under my heavy quilts when I was young and battling my own night monsters.

I started to share my ideas with my little girl. She listened carefully to all of them, and then looked at me and said, “Mommy. You just have to be with me a little bit and they’ll go away.”

Oh. Right.

You can read the rest of this post over at the On Parenting Blog at The Washington Post.