Being afraid of the dark seems to be instilled in us at birth. It is a normal, very common part of development for children. It’s said that 30% of all children have sleep problems because of it. That results in behavior problems, mood issues and trouble concentrating at school. It is really important that we talk to our children without playing into their fears. Here are some ideas on how to do that.
It’s necessary to discuss the fear. Be sure to listen carefully to what your child is saying. There may be a trigger there to help you identify what’s causing it. Perhaps a fairy tale before bed or commonly something that happened at school But don’t be surprised if the fear won’t make much sense at all.
There is also the possibility of frightening images. There may be something that they saw earlier in the day and that may be replaying in their heads throughout their day. It could have been an image in a book, a video game or a cartoon. One never knows what a child is going to find frightening.
Don’t be afraid to let your child sleep with the light on. In time this will go away. You can use soft lights and different colored lights to gradually ween them off of sleeping with the light on. If this is going to help them get a good night’s sleep, there’s nothing wrong with it – It’s not forever.
One of the most important things you can do as a parent to help your child end this cycle is to stick with a bedtime routine. Also soothing music works well and try to stay away from letting them use electronics right before bed. Read a calming happy book together before bed. Positive images as they’re drifting off to sleep are invaluable. Let them play with the family pet before bed to create happy images.
For more ideas on how to combat the night time fear of the dark, read at sandiegofamily.com.
Of course if your child’s nighttime anxiety worsens, consult your family physician.