The R ■ Updated: June 30, 2021
10 Helpful Ideas for Helping Your Child Overcome Their Fear of the Dark.
by Kerry Finch ■ Updated: February 13, 2020
Many parents have youngsters who are afraid of the dark. Unfortunately, this irrational fear can make naps and bedtimes an absolute nightmare for everyone involved.
The good news is that parents can work with their children to help alleviate this very common fear. You can learn how to help your child not be afraid of the dark and the the first way to help your child tackle their fear of dark spaces is to listen.
Actively listening to your child and validating their fears of the dark is a good start to uncovering the root of the problem. Avoid dismissive expressions like, “It’s fine!” or “There’s nothing there!” and certainly do not insult a frightened child for what feels to them like very real and rational fear.
2. Maintain a Regular Bedtime Routine
Stick to a regular bedtime routine that is both relaxing and enjoyable for your child. Turn off sources of stimulation at least half an hour beforehand and consider things like a warm bath or a massage to help ease your child into a soothing slumber.
3. Remove Sources of Shadows
Toys, dolls, chairs, and other items in the room can be the cause of dark, looming shadows in your child’s room. Sit with your child and ask which area of the room scares them. You may discover that the shadow created by something in their room is the cause, and you can then remove it.
4. Take Away Fear-Causing Materials
The books, television shows, and movies your child is watching may be causing or deepening their fear of the dark. Suggest that your child read and watch other materials or remove these sources of stress altogether.
5. Reassure Your Child
Reassuring your child that they are safe in a dark room within the home may look different depending on what they are afraid of. A child who is afraid of a burglar, for example, would benefit from a parent going through the safety measures around the house like a security system and locks on the doors and windows.
6. Give Them the Power to Banish Darkness
Giving your child the power to eliminate darkness can give them the confidence they need to sleep tight at night. Make light switches accessible for children (there are light switch extenders available for shorter kiddos) and provide them with their very own flashlight.
7. Read Books About It
The benefit to reading with your child about their fear of the dark is that it gives you an opportunity to talk with your child about how the things they think are scary aren’t actually scary at all. Fear of the dark is such a widespread issue that there are a number of children’s books based around it. “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet” by Mercer Mayer and “Monsters Get Scared of the Dark, Too” by Melissa Lagonegro, are two of my favourites, and there are several more you can buy or borrow from your local library.
8. Bring In Some Light
If your child has been asking to sleep with the bedroom light on, look into other ways you can bring a gentle glow to the room. Glow in the Dark Stars are a favourite. Another cool way to lighten the atmosphere in a dark room is to choose an item or two from our line of Aloka Sleepy Lights or to add a cute nightlight to their space.
9. Make the Dark Fun
Doing fun things in the dark can help ease your child’s fears. Why not head out on a starry night with our LED Sky Tracer for some fun with your little one? Or engage in a few rounds of spy games with the many spy products we have available in store. Shadow puppets are another cool way to make the dark more fun for anxious kids.
10. Reinforce Each Achievement
Overcoming any fear is a challenge, especially for a youngster whose mental abilities aren’t yet fully developed. Compliment and congratulate your child on every step of their progress, from staying in bed for at least five minutes before leaping out, to eventually sleeping in their own room for an entire night.
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