Children face fears of different things at various points, usually based on the fear of the unknown. Fear of the dark is a common problem for kids. Not being able to see what is in a dark room scares the child and leaves her imagination to run wild with scary possibilities. Night time naturally brings out this fear in children, potentially causing difficulty at bedtime. Helping your child deal with her fears of the dark means a better night’s sleep for everyone involved.
Talk to your child about his fear of the dark, providing support and acknowledging the feelings as a real fear. Avoid putting your child down in any way for his fears. Reassure him that you will keep him safe.
Address the specific fear if there is something more, such as monsters in a dark corner. Help your child talk about and work through these specific fears for a more relaxed feeling overall in dark situations.
Create a comfortable environment in your child’s bedroom if the fear of the dark strikes mainly at bedtime. Remove any large items that might resemble something scary in the dark, such as a coat rack. Play relaxing music in the bedroom to help your child stay calm.
Supply your child with a flashlight when she faces dark situations, such as bedtime. This allows her to investigate potentially scary noises or shapes when a room is dark. A nightlight is another option for making the room less scary.
Establish a soothing bedtime routine that you follow every night to create predictability at night. Use stories, music and cuddling as a way to put your child at ease for a more relaxed state as the lights go off.
Return your child to his own bed if he wakes in the middle of the night upset about the dark. Help him calm down and get settled back in his own bed rather than letting him sleep in your bed, which might make him think there really is something to be scared of in his own room.
Teach your child relaxation techniques to deal with her fear of the dark. Teach her to breathe deeply while envisioning something relaxing. Remind her to do her relaxation techniques when you notice her becoming upset about a dark situation.
Play games that expose your child to the dark in an entertaining way. For example, you might take flashlights into a dark room and try to find different objects or play hide and seek in the backyard after dark. Provide your child reassurance during these games to help him become more accustomed to the dark.
Consult with your child’s doctor if her fear of the dark becomes worse or interferes with regular life.