Do your children have fears, either real or imagined? My son almost never says he’s afraid of anything, but my 7 year old daughter is another story. She has both real and imagined fears. Real fears being things like the snake from outside coming into her room at night and imagined being monsters in her closet. Some of these fears I believe are partly to stall at bedtime, but I (almost) always treat them as something she really believes in. (Afterall, I am human and do lose my patience sometimes and have been known to just say “No, there is absolutely NO reason to be afraid of sharks, we do not even live NEAR an ocean, now Go To Bed!”)
There are several ways to deal with fears in your children. However you deal with them, you should take them seriously. No matter how outrageous the fear sounds to you, it probably seems real to your child. Make sure you let your child tell you about their fear. That way you can understand how to handle it.
If they are afraid of something like bad guys coming into your home, let your child know that Mommy and Daddy are there to protect them. That is something they should not worry about because other people worry about that and take care of them and protect them. My daughter will talk about bad guys sometimes. And then there was the time we saw a black snake outside but near her bedroom. The fear of the snake coming in lasted several nights and we kept reassuring her that it would not come near her because it would be more afraid of her then she was of it.
If your child is afraid of something imagined, like monsters in their closets, feel free to tell them that monsters are not real. Tell them that this is just a bad thought in their head and they are in control of the thoughts in their head. This is what I do with my 7 year old daughter when she is having bad thoughts or has had a bad dream. We talk briefly about it and then I remind her that it is just a bad thought in her head and she can take that bad thought out. We use our hands and pretend we are taking the bad thought out of our heads and throwing it out the window. Then I tell her we have to put a good thought in. Sometimes she already knows what good thought she wants to think about (going on vacation is a common one) and sometimes we have to do some brainstorming to find one she wants to think about. Once she finds one she likes, she usually goes to sleep pretty quickly.
You could also discuss with your child what they would like to dream about before they go to sleep at night. This gets them thinking of good things before they even go to sleep.
Let me know if you have questions or comments!