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It’s a common occurrence for children to voice that they are afraid of the dark. Being afraid of the dark is a fear that many children experience and one that they can overcome with some help from their parents. This fear often begins when the child is a toddler but can last for more extended periods of time for some children.
Why are children afraid of the dark?
A child will often become afraid of the dark for no specific reason. Other times this can be triggered by a scary story or tv show, a scary experience they go through, or another event that may be traumatic for the child. You, as a parent, can do several things to help your child not fear the dark.
How to help your child overcome their fear of the dark:
Below I have listed some tips and then shared some of my favorite products below.
- When your child expresses that they are scared, take the time to listen to their concerns. Validate the feelings that they have. Don’t say, “there isn’t anything there, and you need to go back to bed.” Let your child know that you hear and understand how they are feeling. Don’t discount what your child is telling you. It’s important to show care and compassion. While it may seem that looking for “the monster” under the bed or in the closet may be a good solution, this may only drive the problem on for a more extended period.
- Help your child face their fears and give them a safe space to work through their fear. Many children’s books and/or videos can help address the subject and may be beneficial for your child. It can be helpful to ask your child what would help them feel less afraid of the dark or what you can do to lessen their fear.
Books for Children About Fears:
- Add a fun light source to your child’s room. Keeping the overhead light on probably isn’t an option if you want to avoid messing with their sleep schedule. Finding a cute nightlight, one that projects images, can be a great solution.
Night Lights for Toddlers Afraid of the Dark:
Night Lights with Alarm Clocks for Children Afraid of the Dark:
- Make light switches accessible. Thanks to the advancement in technology, this is possible now and can help your child feel more empowered. Some toddlers are taller than others, and for some, this may not be an issue, but for those that are on the lower end of the growth chart, this can be a significant challenge for the first few years!
Products to Make Light Switches More Accessible to Children who are Afraid of the Dark:
- Eliminate scary shadows in their bedroom. Children will often tell about a particular shadow in their room that scares them and keeps them up at night. When I ask them if they told their parents, they almost always say, “No.” Usually, it is an object that children can identify in their room that is causing the shadow. I have advised many families to move dolls, hat racks, and puppets out of their children’s rooms. Try sitting with your children in their beds when their nightlight is on. Ask them to show you what areas of the room scare them at night. If there is a noticeable shadow, find the source of the shadow and show it to your children. You can say something like, “See, it was your doll making that shadow on the wall. We can move your doll into the closet, and the shadow will be gone.”
- Another way to help your children acclimate to the dark is by having what I like to call – glow parties! These have become a popular activity in my home and can be at yours as well. The whole purpose of the glow party is to help your children make a connection between the dark and fun. Most often, this association doesn’t exist, and it has to be established.
- Find a room with no windows– a closet, laundry room, or bathroom.
- Buy glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces (Sometimes you pick them up at the Dollar Store or Target Dollar Spot, and Amazon).
- You can buy glow-in-the-dark balloons or just put a glow stick in a regular balloon to make it glow.
- If you want to splash out – you can buy a blacklight for under $20 at stores like Amazon. If you have a blacklight, you can add white and neon shirts.
- If a mess doesn’t bother you, you can paint with shaving cream (which will glow in the black light), or you can buy glow-in-the-dark silly string.
- Pick up some Monkey Noodles that glow in the dark and twist, bend, stretch, and create things with them while sitting in the dark.
More Glow-In-The-Dark Products:
It’s possible that helping your child overcome their fear of the dark can be a long journey. Remember, this will take patience and different tactics. Stay consistent in your support, and always listen to how your child is feeling. Eventually, they will work through the fear with your support.