Dealing with a Child Who is Afraid of the Dark

Posted by Cindy Perry on 6/2/2016

how to handle child afraid of dark

A fear of the dark is a completely normal phenomenon that many children deal with. Your child has fewer distractions at night, so their fears can quickly creep up on them. Here are some ways you can help your child overcome their fear of the dark.

1. Find out what’s really bothering him/her

Children have very active imaginations, but sometimes it can be tough to separate those imaginations, especially at night when they don’t have much sensory input to set them straight. Often the easiest way to make them comfortable in the dark is to find out what’s frightening them and remove it. That might mean closing the closet door or limiting what shows they watch on TV.

2. Banish the monsters

Monsters are really just a metaphor for the unknown. They see something they don’t understand and their brains give it an understandable (but scary) form. Sometimes the best way to overcome these fears is to accept the fantasy, but it turn it on itself. Use a water bottle of “monster spray” to lay down an antidote, or sing a silly go-away-monster song before bed.

3. Make the dark fun

During the day, use types of play that involve brief periods of controlled darkness to acclimate them to it. You could flip the lights off, change silly faces, and turn them on. Or you could play “Marco Polo” in a dark (but safe) room. Or you could take walks at sunset and let your kids naturally experience the dark in a gradual way.

4. Don’t belittle their feelings

Telling a child to “get over it” or “stop worrying about it” has literally never helped anyone. Those aren’t solutions for children. Don’t tease them or make them feel like something is wrong with them, or they’ll just keep their fears to themselves, which could cause long-lasting trauma.

5. Stick with your nap routine

If your child has problems sleeping in the dark, there is likely less sleep going on than you are aware of. Frequent trips to the bathroom, glasses of water and just sitting up awake can affect their sleep schedule. Make sure the naps are happening on schedule so you limit the effects.

6. Identify bigger issues

Often a child’s anxiety or distress over something in their life manifests as a simpler, easy to understand fear. For example, a parent’s divorce, a family move, or a death of a pet can show itself as something entirely different. Identify if anything is bothering your child and treat that issue.

How did you help your child defeat their fear of the dark?

luxe floor pillowWritten by Cindy Perry, Inventor of the pello, Luxe Floor Pillows

Cindy, a Texas girl, put herself through college working at a children’s library and sewing at night. When she met her husband and had her two boys, she decided to stay home to care for them while designing window treatments and bedding.

When Cindy’s first son was learning to sit up, he would always fall through the pillows she set around him, hit his head, and cry. Besides, setting her child down on the hardwood floors on just a blanket always seemed so cold. Using her years of sewing and design skills, Cindy took inspiration from a woman in her breastfeeding class and got to work. With some scrap fabric and a few tweaks, pello was born! pello is a luxe floor pillow that helps children feel safe, warm and protected.

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