What to do when a child is afraid of the dark


Is your child afraid of the dark? Don't worry! Bedtime fears, the fear of monsters and the fear of the dark are the very common fears among the children which can be eliminated by adopting some possible ways. To overcome the fear of the dark in children, follow the tips mentioned in this article and put an end to your child's fear of the dark.

Kids are often scared of the dark. Not only kids, even some teens and adults are also afraid of the dark. The fear of the dark is one of the common problems encountered by many people of different age groups. Kids usually get frightened when they are alone at home and they find it difficult to walk alone in the dark. Some kids never allow switching off the lights when they are in the bed at night. Even if the power goes off, the kids will cry out of fear. They imagine some scary creatures and monsters staying under the bed in the dark. Such type of bedtime fears is very normal in kids and it usually prevents sleep and which in turn leads to stress and anxiety in a kid. If you have a child at your home, then definitely you would have come across such familiar situations. This fear of the dark usually starts from the childhood and it continues all throughout the life. It is advisable to eliminate the fear of the dark in the beginning stage that too mainly in the childhood or else it will be difficult to overcome the fear of the dark in the future.



How to overcome a child's fear of the dark?

"If you don't eat your food properly, then the monsters will catch you" is the most common dialogue used by the parents to force their kids to eat. It is obvious that the kids will start to believe the existence of the monsters and get frightened. The imaginary scary stories said by the parents create a residence for the permanent fear in the minds of the kids. The toddlers are usually sensitive and they tend to imagine a lot, so instead of adding fuel to the fire if the parents take some good initiatives to reduce their child's fear, then definitely a child can put an end to his/her fear of the dark.

Follow the below-mentioned possible ways and help your child to overcome the fear of the dark.

Understand and evaluate the child's fear

With the behavior of a kid, you can easily find out whether he/she is frightened. You can have a casual talk with your kid and find out what is bothering their mind. If he/she is not ready to share with you, then closely observe your child's actions and evaluate your child's fear. Consider your kid's fear seriously. It is tough for a kid to sense the difference between reality and the imaginary. The fear of a kid may sound silly to adults, but remember not to make fun of their fears because making fun with a child's fear will further increase the fear, anxiety and stress of the kid. Neglecting the fear will obviously create negative feelings in the minds of the kids and it also lowers his/her self-esteem.

Do not build up a child's fear with your words or actions. Never try to comfort your child by using a monster spray or pretend to sweep the monster away from the room with a broomstick. Such actions will not be helpful because if you use a broomstick and sweep the monster under the bed, then the kid will again get scared to touch the broomstick that you have used. So, instead of temporarily comforting your child take some necessary actions to slowly wipe out your child's fear.



The best way to overcome a child's fear is with love, care and affection. Share some of your childhood stories as of how you were also scared of the dark and the monsters. It is obvious that when we suddenly move into a darker area we go blind and everything will appear scary. Explain to your kid why we go blind for a while when we move into a darker room from a brightly lighted area and also give a proper explanation about the dark and the differences between the reality and the imagination in an understandable way. It is normal to have fears so help your kid to overcome their fears. By being empathetic and supportive you can slowly eliminate a child's fear and develop the courage and confidence to face the darkness.

Help the child to conquer the fear of the dark

A child can easily conquer their fear of the dark with the help of the parents. Love and care of the parents alone is not enough to overcome the fear. Along with the love of the parents, some of the best possible approaches mentioned below can be followed to banish a child's fear. While adopting the smarter techniques, the child will automatically believe the non-existence of monsters and will adapt to the darker environment.

Be brave in front of the Kids: Children always follow their parents. So, if you stay brave in front of your kids, then they will also build their courage and try to react in the same way. As a parent, one must consider the safety of the kids, but that does not mean you should frighten the kids by freaking out every time when they step forward to do something boldly. Tell them the safety rules and explain to them what to do and what not to do.

Say No to scary TV shows and cartoons: Never allow your kids to watch scary television shows, cartoons, movies and videos because the kids may get afraid of the scary visuals. Also never say any scary stories to the kids because it may increase the bedtime fears.

Provide a pet as a companion: If your kid is afraid to stay alone, you can give a pet dog or a pet fish to your kid for security because having a pet as a companion will be helpful to reduce the nighttime fears of the kid and it will also give a safe and a secured feeling to the kid when he/she is alone.

Get a safety object: Similar to pets, you can also give safety objects such as toys, teddy bears or any favorite objects of the kid while he/ she goes to the bed because the kids will feel relaxed when they have their favorite objects nearby them during the bedtime. Having a relaxed feeling will give a good sleep to the kid and reduces the unnecessary stress and anxiety.



Give torchlight: Torchlight is one powerful weapon used to encounter the darkness. So, place the flashlight near your kid's pillow and ask them to use it whenever they are afraid of the dark because the brightness from the torchlight will reduce the fear of the kid.

Play with the shadows: Kids generally get afraid of the shadows. To remove the fear of the shadows, teach them about shadows and show them how to create puppets with the hands. Manipulating the hands to look like a horse, rabbit, bird snake, etc. on the wall will entertain the kids and will also remove the fear of the kids on shadows. So, next time when they see shadows, they will not get afraid instead they will have fun with the shadows.

Celebrate the darkness with your kid: To remove the fear of the dark, play with your kid in a dark room with the glowing balls and torchlight. Go for a happy walk with your kid in a dark place and show them that nothing is there in the dark and try to remove their fear. If your child is frightened by any noise or sound, give them a proper justification from where the sound is coming and build their courage.

Have a night lamp or fun light in the bedroom: Kids usually get afraid to sleep in a dark room. So, instead of completely turning off the light it is better to have a night lamp, a dim light or any fun light in the bedroom because it creates a sense of comfort in the dark. Also, you can stick glowing stickers in the ceiling of the room to eliminate the bedtime fears.

Stay by their bed until your kid sleep: If your child is afraid to stay in a separate bedroom, keep their bedroom door open or else try to have him/her in your bedroom until they gain the courage to sleep alone because they will feel safe when they stay beside you. You can also stay with your kid until they sleep in his/her bedroom. Encourage them that their bed is the safest place and provide them with a comfort during their bedtime.

Challenge the kid to face the dark: Do not force your kid to do the things he/she is afraid of. Give some time for your kid to overcome the fears. Make your kid believe that nothing is scary in the dark. Give them a hope that you are there for your child to protect. Challenge your kid with a task and say him/her that they will get a reward or prize if they complete the task successfully. As a challenging task ask them to go from inside a dark room or else hide an object in a dark room and ask them to find it using torchlight. Rewards usually encourage the kids and such challenging tasks will help the kids to overcome their fears.

Final words

If you did not eliminate the fear in the childhood, then it may later transform into a phobia. So, try to bash your kid's fear of the dark at the earliest by following any of the above-mentioned approaches. If your child does not want your help to overcome their fears, better seek help from someone whom your child trusts the most. Even if your child's bedtime fear continues, it is advisable to have a psychological evaluation of your child with a psychologist and try to treat your child's stress, anxiety and the fear of the dark.


Comments

Author: Reena Upadhya21 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

It is an excellent article that provides complete information and tips for parents to get rid of their kids’ fear of the dark. First of all, as parents or guardians, we too are responsible for it to some extent. Most of the fear that kids face is because we have instilled this fear in them. We have programmed them to be afraid of the dark. Remember when toddlers try to escape here and there and kids when start walking wander aimlessly, elders scare them in some way or the other and discourage this kind of behavior. The aim of elders is to protect the kids against danger as they want the kids to be safe. We all try to scare the kids by saying that there may be a monster behind the door or in the closet or else there might be a ghost waiting for them in the hallway and in the dark basement. This fear which gets instilled in the minds during childhood days remains with us forever. Even as adults we are not able to get rid of it completely. It is the reason that even after knowing the whole truth, adults too are not able to sleep in the dark or walk boldly in the basement. Thus, stop instilling such fear in the kids.

Fear arrives in the hearts when kids start developing some imaginations. Fear of dark develops at the same time. Most of the kids will develop this fear when they are around 2-3 years of age. At this age, they are not able to differentiate between reality and fantasy. Brain at this age is just like a blank book. Anything can be written and it will be there with them forever. It is obvious that kids tend to become more vulnerable during the night time. As parents, don’t ever let the things worsen to such an extent. Let your kids enjoy nighttime same as daytime. Don’t scare them in any way. Keep scary stories, scary cartoons, scary movies, and everything scary away from them.



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