What an interesting thought – that children are scared of the dark as a survival tactic. My children are 3 & 5, so I feel a transition coming before too long. My children go to bed when I do, between 9 – 11pm. It’s through articles like yours that we found the information and support we needed to stick to our instincts as parents and tune out advise to the contrary – so thank you! You can see it for yourself by going to our site ForceFieldFun.com I have written a book with characters that represent children’s most common fears, so they can better deal with them. His current research and writing focuses primarily on children's natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. Nov 5, 2013 - Teddy Bears: protecting children from monsters under the bed since 1902 We’ve just always done what came naturally. They say they are not tired, when in fact they obviously are tired.  Remnants of that view still persist in books on baby care, where the typical advice is that parents must be firm about bedtime and not give in. A lot of them say its because they want their bedroom to themselves to get a better night sleep, but they seem to end up spending a lot of time sitting in the child’s bedroom trying to get them back to sleep in the middle of the night, and then getting up extremely early in the morning. In the history of our species, infants and young children who grew frightened and cried out to elicit adult attention when left alone at night were more likely to survive to pass on their genes to future generations than were children who placidly accepted their fate. Your child is screaming because we are all genetically hunter-gatherers, and your child’s genes contain the information that to lie alone in the dark issuicide. Until a mere 10,000 years ago we were all hunter-gatherers. Infants and young children in our culture regularly protest going to bed. A grass hut was not protection, but the close proximity of an adult, preferably many adults, was protection. They talk about being afraid of the dark, or afraid of monsters in the closet or under the bad. I heard a few explanations, but this one is new for me. My kids both co-slept with us in our bed until they were 2, then they shared a bed in our room for a year or so. There was a time during Middle school that my daughter refused hugs, my son never went thru that phase. My 4 year old goes to sleep in her bed and usually wakes up at some point, comes into our room and just climbs up into our bed, knowing she is always welcome there. Things were getting a wee bit squishy as she got bigger so when she turned 3, her birthday present was her own newly decorated room and a beautiful antique oak double bed , we decided to made it a bit of a mile stone event so she was super excited about getting her big girl room, we also decided to get a big bed so that we could sleep with her if we needed to, particularly when she was sick. PATREON. Your child is screaming, truly, for dear life. When people in non-Western cultures hear about the Western practice of putting young children to bed in separate rooms from themselves, often without even an older sibling to sleep with, they are shocked. I don’t have children yet, but I see the evidence of children wanting to feel someone as they fall asleep from my family. We all lived in a world where any young child, alone, in the dark, would have been a tasty snack for nighttime predators. When he gets in the bed between 4 -6 am, though it’s a tight squeeze, and he sometimes moves one LO down to a matress on the floor. This webcomic is NSFW, so there is a link to a safe page provided. Sending my children to bed across the house on another floor is not something I would consider doing while they’re young. With our first we read the books and toughed it out thinking we were doing the right thing. They make all sorts of excuses. Still regret the decision to this day, but she has matured into a wonderful, happy adult with many friends and a wonderful personality. With Fred Savage, Howie Mandel, Daniel Stern, Margaret Whitton. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Monster Under the Bed. New York: Holt. The number 56 continues to repeat in my head. Our house is spread out, with two small bedrooms close together upstairs, and the master bedroom downstairs and on the other side of the house. It is a lot easier to deal with a fear if we can put a face on it. Please consider supporting our progressive work with your tax-deductible donation and subscribe to our newsletter. We’ve never had a fight over bed time and I believe both children now have the strong, positive sleep associations of love and security. How did you resolve it? SMBC is a daily comic strip about life, philosophy, science, mathematics, and dirty jokes. “Remember when we were kids and afraid of the dark unable to fall asleep for fear of monsters under the bed or in the closet? In all other cultures, infants and young children sleep in the same room and usually in the same bed with one or more adult caregivers, and bedtime protest is non-existent.. He is still close and we hug a lot. We would hide under our blankets because we believed they had the power to protect us, right? The Monster Under the Bed by Brandon Shane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License ©2014-2020 The Monster Under the Bed | … (1928). Over 24% of adults are still afraid of the dark. Many children her age know there are monsters under their beds; it makes it all the more fun and simple to get our jobs done. As an alternative media and nonprofit educational initiative, Kindred has provided a gathering place for thought leaders, scientists, professionals and adults who care for children since 2002. She always knew that she was welcome in our bed if she wanted to come in and would often jump in with us for a cuddle and story in the morning but only ever in the morning not through the night. But clearly something is missing in this explanation from the experts. It tore us up listening to her cry herself to sleep. We have here a mismatch between the environment of our evolutionary ancestors, in which our genetic being was shaped, and the environment in which we live today. Against the advice of almost everyone I know, my husband and I have always allowed them into our bed and have never let them “cry it out.” As infants they slept safely beside me. Ethnology, 10, 466-508. Early Partnership Childhood Care: What Should Centers Provide? It’s interesting to me that the parents who were negative about our ‘cotton wool’ approach all have kids who still fight and cry at bedtime…. Developmental Psychology, 28, 604-613. How did you make that work? //  Konner (2002). They won’t even go in their rooms alone at night to get their pajamas or something they’ve left during the day such as a blanket or stuffed animal! The thought of forcing her to sleep on her own and leave her to cry horrifies me, but I know lots of people who do that – but it seems that they are the people who have real sleep issues with their children, so why do they persist? I get out of the bed before long though and they’re comfy again. Illustration of colorful, human, concept - 101936249 My daughter came back to hugs in high school happily. They go to sleep when they are tired and fall asleep, not when a clock says it is time. We can do what the “experts” advise and engage in a prolonged battle of wills, or we can do what our genes advise and figure out some not too inconvenient way to let our children sleep close to us. She was very little so we got one of the those snuggle beds which have soft but slightly ridget sides so that she wouldn’t roll under us and she slept on that between us until she got too big for it, then in a baby hammock above us or right next to me on a stand that allowed me to put my hand in and sway the hammock if she fussed. What infants and young children protest, apparently, is not going to bed per se, but going to bed alone, in the dark, at night. //  Barry, H., & Paxson, L. (1971). Glad to hear a doctor having regard for parents’ and children’s natural instincts instead of trying to force them to ignore them in order to force children into our culture’s ridiculous mold of normality. I’m especially interested in the experiences of people who have made the choice–contrary to most pediatricians’ advice–to allow their children to sleep with them. I bet you know one. Thank you for offering this fascinating evolutionary explanation! We never had any sleep issues at all and it was a lovely experience for all of us and something that I believe instilled a strong sense of safety and well being with my little one . In a hunter-gatherer culture only a crazy person or an extremely negligent person would leave a small child alone at night, and at the slightest protest from the child, some adult would come to the rescue. When your child screams at being put to bed alone at night, your child is not trying to test your will! For example, in the developed world we no longer fight others for food, fight off animals, or “spread the seed” far and wide to ensure continuation of your genetic line (for males). Making Nighttime Fun Time. What do we do about evolutionary mismatch? Little babies without language, who can’t yet describe their fears or try to negotiate, just scream. The Force Field™ Cloak visually reinforces that protective power children believe in already, and they know what a Force Field is.
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