Being afraid of the dark is a common fear among children and can significantly impact how they sleep. It can make putting them to bed every night a huge hassle, leading to restlessness and anxiety. Empowering your child to overcome their fear of the dark can equip them with the right tools to fight other fears that they may come across. Here are some tips for parents to help their children with their fear of the dark:
1. Validate and listen to your child
Allow your child to explain why they are scared of the dark. Let them know that this fear is very common among children and that their bedroom remains the same whether the light is on or not. Dismissing or joking about the fear can magnify it.
2. Leave a light on
Look into buying a nightlight or leaving their door slightly open and turning on the hallway light on until you go to sleep. The sliver of light may bring them comfort in knowing that there is some kind of light source and allow them to sleep peacefully.
3. Applaud Bravery
Use positive reinforcement and voice out their bravery for dealing with the dark. Any step they make towards confronting their fear is crucial!
4. Play in the dark
Let them know that the dark does not have negative connotations. Set up a scavenger hunt with glow in the dark toys or cast funny shadows before bed. Allow them to associate fun and happy memories with the dark to ease their fear.
5. Offer a comfort item
Such items are often viewed as protection and a projection of themselves or their parents. Give them a stuffed animal or a special blanket that they can seek out whenever they are having a hard time with the dark.
6. Be patient
Overcoming fears take time and effort. Parents may need to use one or a combination of more techniques to help their child get over their fear. Remember you are in this with your child!