As kids, most of us remember being afraid of the darkness. Objects around turn into spooky silhouettes, we hear suspicious sounds and feel there’s something hiding in the obscure corners of the room. Your kid started complaining about the same and begs you to stay in her room? It’s time to shed the light on techniques to overcome child’s fear of the dark!
Just To Kindly Remind You…
Before you start, please, mind the following:
- Keep calm and carry on listening to your child. Do not exaggerate and take them seriously. Instead of showing skepticism and mocking,. Explain what fear is, and say that it’s okay to be afraid of something.
- Don’t say it’s stupid. Ghosts and monsters might be imaginary, but fear is real.
- Support your little one and let your kid understand you’re always here.
- Say ‘No’ to sleepovers. You might be tempted to resolve the problem in the fastest and easiest way – let your kid sleep in parents’ or sibling’s bed. But that doesn’t make the fear disappear – you just delay the solution of the issue. Keep the boundaries and make sure the kid sleeps in his bed only.
- Say words of support and encouragement. That will empower your child to cope with the fear of the dark more efficiently.
- Be patient. The problem won’t disappear overnight. Prepare to use several techniques and tricks before you notice positive results.
Where The Fear Of The Dark Comes From?
‘My kid was ignorant of the darkness and slept like a dog, when suddenly something changed and caused the fear of the dark,’- some parents say. That’s a typical situation. What triggers the fear of the dark? There’s a huge number of reasons:
- Scary movies, fairytales and verses can go alive in kid’s vivid imagination.
- Stress caused by moving, death of family members, sudden change of life conditions or people around.
- While the kid is growing, he might acquire the fear of death (in other words, non-existence) – darkness is closely connected with that in kids’ imagination.
- Surprisingly, even the type of food given to kids matters. Do not feed your little one with fatty products, sweets and meat – they don’t promote fast sleep onset.
- In many cases, the fear of the dark is caused by punishments when parents lock kids in dark rooms!
When ignored, the fear of the dark in kids can continue chasing them throughout the whole life and even transform into a phobia of the dark and small spaces.
Techniques To Overcome Child’s Fear Of The Dark
1. Leave The Nightlight On
The simplest solution is to leave a nightlight in the child’s room. It can be placed right above the bed. Mind one thing – do not use ordinary, daytime lighting. Leave the night light on when the child is still awake, do not turn it off even when the kid falls asleep. After all, the child can wake up during the night and be overwhelmed by complete darkness.
2. Hide Scary Sounds Behind The Music
If the child cannot see what is happening next to him, he instinctively starts listening. Kids have rich imagination – they will surely hear some rustles or squeaks. What’s the way out? Drown terrible sounds in quiet melodic music. Perhaps, under her baby fall asleep faster.
3. Use Your Own Fantasy
Find out what exactly the child is afraid of. Try to explain why the fears of the baby will not come true. For example, you can say there’s a little dwarf that lives in your house: it protects family against ghosts and monsters. This trick will work with small kids, of course.
4. Hug Your Child More Often
If parents often stroke the baby on the head and hug, he calms down and forgets about his fears. You can also make your child massage before bedtime or just scratch the back.
5. Teddy Bear: The Bigger The Better
This is a great alternative to sleepover. Explain your kid that he can snuggle up to a bear like mom, talk to it and not be afraid of anything. To make the child feel safe, better choose a soft and big toy (the defender should be large and strong enough). This method is suitable for children 6-7 years.
6. Stick To The Schedule
Kids react to all changes, so even daily schedule correction can take the negative toll. Make sure your kid goes to sleep at exactly the same time every day. For toddlers, the ‘sleep window’ is between 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM. Older children should go to sleep about 9:00 AM.
7. Draw The Fears
In order to permanently get rid of the night monster, offer the child to destroy this fear. Let him draw this monster on a piece of paper. Then tear the paper, burn it or destroy it by any other way (for example, you can put the monster behind bars). If a week later the kid will not be able to remember what he drew, the fear is almost defeated.
8. Put Gadgets Aside – Read Books Instead
Spend 2 hours before sleep reading bedtime stories or playing calm games. Minimize exposure to TV and gadgets, especially in the evening – that improves the quality of rest.
9. Create Comfort In The Nursery
To promote better sleep, turn the children’s room into a small magical country. Make a huge starry sky by sticking glowing neon stars on the ceiling, make the bed a soft cloud, and lay a carpet on the floor. Let the nightlight be the moon (place it near the kid’s bed). Whenever your little one wakes up and decides to leave the bed, he will feel safe. Comfort is the key to tranquility.
10. Discuss Fears With Your Kid
Psychotherapists are sure that parents should discuss kids’ fears with them because the more child speaks, the faster the fears will dissipate. It is also important for parents to share their fears with children and tell them how they overcame negative emotions in childhood.
11. Milk Before Bedtime
A few sips of warm milk before bedtime act on babies as a sleeping pill. If you put some honey in the milk, the calming effect of the beverage will multiply. Alternatively, prepare herbal tea for kids.
12. Never Call Your Child A Coward!
If your children are afraid of the dark or suffer from nightmares, they should never be ashamed or called cowards! Do not laugh at your kids – show empathy and understanding instead. Mocking will only make things worse. Living in constant stress can lead to a serious inferiority complex and promote deeper development of fear.
13. Make A Guardian Talisman
If the idea with a teddy bear doesn’t work, here’s another trick to overcome child’s fear of the dark. Offer your kid to make a personal guardian. For example, you can create an owl or a mouse: a night creature will keep monsters at the bay. By the way, you can also buy a dream catcher and explain your child what it serves for.
14. Play Active Games
Try your best to make every day of your kids be full of interesting, vivid impressions, useful things and games. That will reduce sleep problems: happy and exhausted kids fall asleep faster than their imagination starts making up scary things. At the same time, try not to overload the baby before bedtime – overexcited kids will not be able to sleep, and the fears will return.
Must read: 23 On-the-Go Games
15. Make Up ‘Therapeutic’ Fairytales
Make up a story that reminds of your kid’s one:
“Once upon a time, there was a boy called Justin (almost like you, Jason). He was afraid of a monster living under his bed…”
Turn the plot so that the monster appears to be kind and funny – it’s just hides in the dark because it’s ashamed of its appearance. Make up a happy end: monster finds friends, and the boy gets rid of his fears.
16. Watch Kind Cartoons
The role of cartoons in the fight against fears is very large, because the child can put himself in the place of cartoon characters who defeat otherworldly monsters. Useful cartoons in which otherworldly creatures are kind and cheerful, and a child can, for example, present himself as a funny ghost. Having the opportunity to become at the time of those who frightened him, the child himself will forget about their fears.
Use these sixteen techniques to overcome child’s fear of the dark, and you will see a significant progress! However, if nothing helps, I’d highly recommend you to visit a psychologist – in serious cases, children need professional help.
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