As Laurel’s world of words has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, we’re reminded daily of just how observant she is, and how imaginative. About a month ago, one way her imagination began evidencing itself was through nightmares. She woke up crying in the middle of the night, and we soon learned about her fear of animals and people coming into her room; among them, a character named Ya Ya the Yellow Cat.
There’s little to do about nightmares other than provide comfort and calm during the day and the nighttime episode itself, but one method that has worked beautifully for us is using Laurel’s language abilities to advantage. Asking questions about her nightmares and listening to her responses shows Laurel that we take her seriously, and has allowed us to reverse the polarity of some of the nightmares over time.
Jon actually was the first to learn about the origin of Laurel’s fears; her big room in our new home, the dogs barking in the yard next door, and the noisy entry downstairs all seemed to contribute to her fear of unwelcome guests. Jon used conversation (and a little bedtime song he came up with) to convey to Laurel that no one came into our house unless one of us said so, and that her room was a safe and peaceful place. And as he asked more questions about Ya Ya the Yellow Cat, he also reminded her about other yellow things and neighborhood cats that she loves; over time, and with these positive associations, Ya Ya became a friend not foe.