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A nightmare has made my daughter afraid of her own house!
Q: Since she had a nightmare about a monster, my 3-year-old daughter won't let me out of her sight! There are parts of the house she won't enter. And she won't go into my bedroom, where she had the dream, unless someone is holding her. She won't walk on her own unless it's outside the house. Please, what can I do to reassure her?

A: At 3, children are just old enough to know that bad things can happen. They're frequently frightened by shadows in their room, dreams or something on television.

One idea to calm your daughter is to invite a playmate or two to the house. Maybe she has some cousins who can visit and even sleep over. The purpose of having other children over is to use fun to distract your daughter from her fears. She'll also be able to see other children playing in different parts of the house without incident.

Hopefully, your daughter will develop an association between fun and rooms in your house that are scary for her. You're going to have to use your judgment to decide when your daughter's fears have subsided so you can set some firm limits about going into, and being in, rooms by herself. Remember, once 3-year-olds learn they can get extra attention by saying they're afraid, they will pretend to be afraid just for the attention.
Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist