Dear Dr. Bill,
Recently my 5-year-old daughter has been crying and getting hysterical at bedtime. A couple weeks ago, we checked out a “kids movie” from the library that involved witches. Now every night, she’s afraid witches are going to get her. Last night I did something my husband and I vowed we would never do — I slept in their room. But I was desperate, because it was 11pm and she had to get up early for school the next day! What should we do?
It’s clear that this so-called “kids movie” really scared your daughter. Unfortunately, as parents we can no longer trust ratings or descriptions of films. We need to research movies and DVD’s ourselves, using a trusted source like Focus on the Family’s “PluggedIn.com.”
Since your daughter was obviously traumatized by the witches, the first thing I would do is sit down and discuss the movie. Ask her what she saw, what she thought about it, and what she felt.
Don’t dismiss her fears as silly or immature. After all, she is only five years old, and it sounds like she has a very sensitive spirit.
Then reassure her that it was only a story, just like the stories in her story books. Explain to her that God will protect her and pray with her about the scary movie and her fears. Also, encourage her to pray on her own when she becomes frightened at night.
It’s definitely NOT a good idea for you to sleep in her room or let her sleep in your bed. That will only reinforce her behavior, encouraging her to act helpless and dependent.
Instead, find another way to make her feel secure, like turning on a nightlight for a while or letting her take a special stuffed animal to bed with her.
Thanks for writing, Debbie. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.
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