Life was tough when we were little! We had to eat veggies, couldn’t play in the rain, had to wear silly sweaters that our Grandma made us, but the hardest part of being little was bedtime. Not only because we had to go to bed when we would much rather be playing, but because of the dark!
Most children are afraid of the dark at some point in their life. Whether they are afraid of a monster under the bed or the boogeyman for some reason it’s a fear that comes to us all. Here are a few tips to help your child cope and overcome their fear of the dark.
1. Listen to your child!
Children are always saying that adults don’t listen to them. Fear is a powerful emotion. If your child confides in you that they are afraid, let them sit down and talk to you about it. Listen to their story and ask questions. “Why do you think there is something under your bed?” “How would it get there?” “Why would we not be able to see it during the day?” Then explain to your child that there isn’t anything there. If your child something is ‘living’ under their bed or in their closet show them during the day that there is nothing there!
2. Your bedtime routine is important!
If you have a child who is afraid at night, your bedtime routine can be vital! First, take a look at books that are being read before bed and television that is being watched. Could any of those be putting scary thoughts into your child’s head? Then, if your child is afraid of something lurking in the shadows try doing a night watch. Start by keeping the lights on and before bed explain how there is nothing there. But just to show your child, invite them to look with you. It might take multiple stages to do this. Perhaps at first it’s just Mom or Dad doing the looking. Then the child might. Then, perhaps you can turn the lights off (but keep the hall light on or a night light) and give your child a flash light to look. Eventually your child will see that nothing has been there!
Try letting your child fall asleep to an audio book or while listening to music. If you keep your child’s mind focused on that, then they won’t have time to think about things that are scaring them. (Just be sure to pick out an appropriate audio book. You may also need to move bedtime forward to allow for extra time to fall asleep!)
3. Security Items are ok!
If your child has a favorite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal make sure they have it at night. It’s ok to have these security items!
4. No Monster Spray or Monster Cams!
I’ve seen lots of parents that have ‘monster spray’ or who set up ‘Monster Cams’. While many people say it helps their child, it can also hurt your child. After all, if you are willing to play along with the idea that a monster really is under the bed and you need to spray to keep him away – doesn’t that really tell your child that monsters do actually exist!?
5. Keep the light on!
Everyone sleeps better when it is dark, but if your child insists on sleeping with their light on let them. (Just be sure to turn it off before you go to bed!) After a while you can graduate to a night light or just the hall light and eventually to no light.
6. Give them some extra love!
Remember, being a kid is tough. Fear is a big emotion. Be proud of your child for facing their fear each night and for being able to talk to you about it!
By doing these things you can really help your child overcome their fear of the dark! Remember, being afraid of the dark is an age appropriate fear for kids. It’s important to be supportive and understanding so our children know that they can come to us when they are scared. We won’t be upset, we won’t laugh at them and instead we will support and help them.
Here are a few of my favorite products for kiddos who struggle with a fear of the dark. They may work out perfect for your child!
- The Berenstain Bears In The Dark
- Franklin in the Dark
- The Dark
- Night Light
- Sofia The Snail: The Little Snail That Was Afraid of the Dark
Things that can help your child:
- Cloud B Tranquil Turtle – this has lights and soothing sounds!
- Boon Glo Night Light with Portable Balls – This is a really cool product! The globes are cool enough for kids to hold so if they need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night they can pick it up and take it with them!
- Try listening to lullabies at night! Some of my favorites include the Disney Lullaby album and Dreamland.
- Audio books are a great thing for kids to fall asleep to! Try classics like Charlotte’s Web! (Don’t pay for an audio book! Get one for free by signing up for the Audible free trial!)
- Good Night, Sleep Tight Reward Chart