Afraid of the Dark? Try These 8 Quick Tips to Help Your Child Sleep

Does your kid have the boogie monster blues? Try these tricks.

It goes back to the dawn of time: when the sun goes down, and the most immediate of our five senses (sight) becomes significantly reduced, nocturnal hunters come out, yeah, we get scared.

At around the ages of two or three, children also see a rapid development of imagination, i.e., dreams and sometimes, nightmares. It stands to reason then, that kids are afraid of the dark. The worst part about this, aside from your child’s legitimate discomfort of course, is that it’s bedtime! You are tired and you really need to decompress. Instead, you find yourself dealing with tears and whining, and multiple attempts at getting up and tucking back into bed. It’s easy to blow a fuse. Don’t be too hard on yourself; we’ve all been there.

Here are a few things to try, according to moms, pediatricians, and psychologists, and know that it’s normal and only a phase. Deep breath!

  1. Steady routine. This goes for babies and toddlers and even big kids – same time, same place, same cooling down period. Set up the ritual: pajamas, brush teeth, turn on night-light, bedtime story, and a cuddle after the lights go out.
  1. Wear them out, clean them up. A ton of exercise followed by a nice calm bath can be the one-two punch that knocks kids out. You, know, in a good way.
  1. A lullaby and a back rub, even with a not-so-great singing voice can do the trick. But don’t push your best Bing Crosby on your kids if they tell you to stop.
  1. Assemble the troops. One thing that has worked is using that active nighttime imagination to make a happy story. Assemble the stuffy collection on the bed and tell your little one that it’s a slumber party, and that as long as he or she whispers and stays lying down, your child can talk to the stuffies. Sometimes this gives little brains something to chew on while they drift off.
  1. Assure safety. Remind your children that they are safe; you are in the next room, and there are no monsters in their room. If they need to look under the bed, so be it.
  1. Talk about it during the day. It can help in the bright light of day to talk about the fear when it isn’t happening.
  1. Keep calm yourself. Here is the toughie. But any energetic escalation on your part will heighten anxiety, so do your best to quell your agitation. Kids take their cues from you.
  1. If it becomes more severe, call your pediatrician. Some kids can develop an actual problem with generalized anxiety, and if you see it getting progressively worse, consult with a doctor or child therapist.

It really won’t last forever, and most kids get the hang of it. Being afraid of the dark means they have a healthy sense of self-preservation, and we as parents, want to work with that. As always, the calm, loving, rational approach to the fear of darkness will eventually win.

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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