Children afraid of the dark are quite common, indicating a healthily developing imagination and a growing awareness that the world does not revolve around them. ‘Tis the stuff dreams are made of—but nightmares too. It can be quite unnerving to realize that there are things beyond their control.
Sadly, adults often perceive these as irrational fears.
When the lights are turned out, your children can feel frightfully alone and vulnerable. Objects that, by day, are innocent and fun can be, by night, scary and menacing. So what can you do when your children wake in the middle of the night terrified that monsters lie in wait under their beds?
The best place to start is with a good lighthearted chat. Talk to your children about what’s scaring them without ridiculing them or dismissing their fears in any way. After all, whatever is frightening is very real in their minds. That’s why it can backfire to use imaginary characters to gain control during the day, as these can fuel the inventions of demons and monsters at night.
Once you have discussed whatever is frightening your child, comfort them once more with a reassurance of safety before turning off the light. Then again, you may wish to keep some sort of light on to give them a measure of power. You can use the room lights if you’ve got a dimmer, or you can buy a small nightlight. See what they prefer. Either way, there’s no better way than literally bringing light to the darkness to show your children that all is well.
Yet even then, smaller children may still be scared and sneak into your bed during the night to snuggle up with you. And while it can seem like a decent solution at first (heck, you’ll get more sleep!), it’s not a good idea to encourage your children to run away from their fears.
Handling children afraid of the dark can be difficult, but with loving reassurance and a bit of smart strategy, you can help them to conquer their fears and claim the peace that the dark really holds for them.