A couple of weeks ago Brandon had a terrifying nightmare about snakes, and when he came into my room in the middle of the night he snuggled in so close we inhabited the same space. He wanted me to search the apartment for snakes as he buried his face deeper and deeper into my chest, shaking with fear. I reassured him that he would be OK and that a snake search party was not going to happen, and he eventually fell back asleep.
He became incredibly clingy, would follow me everywhere, and would not go anywhere if it was remotely dark. He made me plug the shower drain so that no snakes would be able to come up and get him while he showered. Every sound that was made througout the apartment panicked him, snowballing his anxiety. The dark terrified him, and no matter how hard we tried to give him pep talks about what a tough big boy he was, he remained in his constant state of fear.
A friend suggested a solution that worked for her son, so I immediately put it to the test. Armed with crayons and a blank piece of paper, Brandon drew everything that had been causing him fear. Sounds, sights, imaginary creatures, thoughts...everything. He proudly took the piece of paper and crumpled it into a tight ball. Me, Amanda, and Brandon all put our hands on the ball of fear and said goodbye to the bad juju. He then took it and ran to the big dumpster behind the car and threw it in, returning with a noticible look of relief and excitement on his face.
Later that afternoon he asked if he could clean the bath tub. Not one to turn down voluntary child labor, I got out the cleaning supplies and he was ready to go. As I began to walk out of the bathroom he whimpeed and asked me to stay with him because he was scared. I replied, "Sorry Buddy, but we got rid of that earlier." He thought about it for a second, shrugged his shoulders, and never said another word about it.
He hasn't come into my bed yet since we got rid of the bad juju, and while he was at his dad's he didn't have any problems. Now when he is in the bathroom alone brushing his teeth, he repeats the mantra "Bad juju gone, bad juju gone, bad juju gone," over and over until he's finished brushing.
We'll see how he does tonight...I'm betting he sleeps well. I hope he sleeps well.