What to Do About Toddler Scared to Sleep Alone

Updated on October 03, 2008
S.R. asks from Pflugerville, TX
13 answers

To sum this up quickly... when my husband was in his 20's and not yet married he thought it would be funny to scare his nephew. Now years later we're married and have 3 kids (ages 3yr, 2 yr, and 4 months). My brother-in-law thought it would be pay-back time to my husband and scared my 2 yr. old with a clown mask. She is now afraid to sleep by herself and keeps trying to sleep with us in our bed. How can I get her over this fear and get her back into her bed?

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answers from Houston on

My daughter was scared to sleep alone too and we bought the movie "Monsters Inc." for her and she loved it. We then bought "Sully" the big monster for her and she is now 8 and loves him. After the movie she thought monsters are funny and not scarey. I like the other ideas posted too!

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answers from Austin on

I used this when my son was 2 1/2!!


1 spray bottle (get the big one, it works better!!)
2 cups of tap water
3 pinches of baby powder
4 pumps or small squirts of hand sanitizer (the kind with the moisturizing beads makes it that much stronger against monsters!!)

Get all ingredients there and have the child add all ingredients to the bottle. Put top on and shake vigorously.
Instruct child to spray any and ALL places any monsters could be......DON'T FORGET THE CLOSET, TOY BOX, and UNDER THE BED!!!

(now, when we moved into our new house, we had our pastor say a prayer for our house. (more ammo) I tell my son that our house is now blessed and God won't let in any monsters or ghosteses. Then, JUST TO BE SURE, we would walk around and I would tell him to spray all the spots he thinks a monster could hide in. We hit everything and, I must admit, the first night, the carpet was pretty wet... but it dried!! When he had sprayed everything (a SUPER FINE MIST works best, for mom too), then we would go around once more and make sure we found all the missed spots, we usually found one or two more.

The hand sanitizer smell lets you KNOW that the spray is working. Monsters really HATE that smell!! It also gave HIM control over the monsters! I left the bottle next to his bed for a while, but after a week, the monsters were gone. The buggers tried to come back a couple months later, but he GOT 'em again!!! They have not been back in two years!!!


Don't forget to spray uncle too!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Brownsville on

Let me start this off with, SHAME ON THEM! As adults we do not always know how very real something like that can be to a child. I have a 5 year old. When he turned 4 my husband's brother died. There was a scary situation where at 3:00am the very morning he passed all 8 of our smoke detectors went off in our house. It scared me to death, my kids and especially my then 4 year old. Once we finally were able to disarm the loud sirens, my son would no longer sleep in his room. He said,"the green light talks to me". The light was, of course, the small light on the detector that lets you know that it is working. The alarm in his room set off all the other alarms. (The 9v battery exploded). We tried everything, "monster spray", which was nothing more than a bottle, appropriately labled, containing water, night lights, camomille tea, low music. The only thing that eneded up working was moving everyone's room around so that he no longer slept in that particular room. We discovered this by simply asking him what he needed to be able to sleep in his room. He quite frankly replied, "to move to sissy's room". And so that is what we did. Voila! No more sleepless nights. I realize that at 2 she may not be able to communicate as well as a 4 year old, but she may have the clue to your dilemma. It may be as simple as "how do we get rid of the monster?" Because really, that is all she wants.

On the flip side, do your brother-in-law and husband realize the true anxiety that they has caused this child? This may be a learning experience for more than just the 2yr old.



answers from Houston on

I agree with Debbie M! Someone should! I would be so angry with both of them for having so little respect for the children! I would have a few choice words for those two. I think the ideas suggested are pretty good. Hope things work out for the baby girl.



answers from Houston on

Let her kick her uncle's ass!



answers from Houston on

I agree -- shame on both of them.

However... just last night I received a catalog that I'd never heard of before. The most intriguing thing to me was a product I'd never seen before: under bed lights to scare off the boogyman! They're cool and in bright neon colors - much like the lights you sometimes see under cars. I promise I'm not with this company or anything. It's just weird that I just saw this last night. I looked up the catalog online and here's the website.


Please spend some time with your husband and brother-in-law explaining how childish and irresponsible their actions were. Scaring a child is not something that they should be proud of. I had a similar scare when I was young and at 46, I'm STILL afraid of clowns. Good luck! S.


answers from Beaumont on

That is totally unacceptable. I would be very upset that someone did that to a child. They will not get over it. The only thing you can do is explain about who did it and that you are sorry that it happened and then lay down the boundary that you expect them to stay in their bed because you all need your rest. Do the nanny thing where you bring them back to their bed if they get out without interacting with them at all. If you let them sleep with you it is reinforcing that there is indeed something to be afraid of.
That relative would also be informed that my children were off limits to their sick humor.



answers from San Angelo on

Get monster spray, it works wonders. I got a pocket-sized can of "oust" air freshener from the walmart checkout line. I went home and got clipart pictures of a snake, spider, scorpion, and "monster" (and in your case a clown) and I made a label that said monster spray. My kids would get to spray one spray of it in the closet and under the beds every night before bed. It really worked! If you need help with the label let me know and I can send you one.



answers from Victoria on

I am so sorry he did that!!! I would ask him what he did to help his little one after that kind of scare. We get threats from family members that they are going to teach our son things or buy him extreamly loud toys to get back at his father. I always look at them like they are crazy and ask why they would do such a thing. Its odd to me that people use a child as pay back. That would scare me too at my age if some one did that. Try the usuall bedroom checks, under bed in closet, and a teddy bear to help protect her perhaps a good shinny night light. Explain to her that it was the uncle that was playing with her and you have told him never ever to do that again. Also try some kind of child physocoligy web site. Hope you find the answer. I pray that she gets over it. Oh and also tell her God said " Fear not for the Lord is with you". This actually helps me when I get scared!!!



answers from Houston on


A neighbor of mine went to the dollar store and bought a vase and glued things to it, like beads, stones and feathers. She told her child that it would protect the room from anything bad. Her child thought it looked so different from anything she had seen that she believed it would work and hasn't left her bed in over a year. I don't know if it would work for you, but my neighbor sure had luck with it.

Good luck!



answers from Killeen on

my 2 yr old gets scared easily and doesn't want to go to bed. it helps that she shares a room with her 4 yr old sister, but also, we let her keep the closet light on so it's not dark. if she is really scared i will ask her if she wants me to check for monsters and i go in there and check all around her room saying "no monsters here!" for awhile, that still wasn't working, so i asked her where the monster was and she pointed so i went over there and said "ok monster, you have to go outside now!" and pretended to grab it by the hand and lead it out the front door and lock the door. sounds silly, i know! but it worked! and the next day she remembered and looked out the front window and said "monster's locked outside!" i also once told her to just put her rain boots on and stomp the monsters b/c she kept talking about them during the day so she went "monster stomping" and thought it was great fun!
i guess the key is being creative and using whatever works for your kid! having her take charge and take care of the monsters on her own will empower her to deal with scary situations on her own.
good luck!



answers from Killeen on

OK, I know this will sound funny to you but I had the same problem with my daughter. As my daughter was very independent even at that age we did a nightly routine. We looked under the bed, in the closet, behind her rocking chair all while saying BOO. That made her think that she was scaring away the "monsters" or "bad", that she was in control of her world. We also designated one of her stuffed animals (a stuffed dog) that she slept with as her sleep keeper. It protected her while she slept. After awhile, she decided it was ok to stop the routine and at 11 she still sleeps with her sleep keeper while as home, its just called "Flower" now.



answers from Austin on

You can't give in and let her sleep in your bed. If she's really freaked out, maybe let her sleep on the floor of your room, or in the hallway between your rooms, but move her toward her room a little more every night, until she is back in her bed. One thing that worked for us when my son was afraid of monsters in his room, was letting him sleep with the lights completely on, and letting one of our cats sleep in his room with him so he wasn't alone. Also, my husband would make an elaborate production of going into his room, alone, shutting the door and "clearing" the room of monsters before our son went to bed. A friend printed up a label that said "Monster Repellent" and put it on a can of air freshener. Whenever her son got scared, she'd spray the room, and he was fine. Good luck.

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