How to help children who are afraid of the dark

Monday, April 18th, 2016

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged (well almost) that young children sleep better in a darkened room than one where the light is pouring in. And we, as parents, often seek to make the room as dark as possible to help prevent premature waking, particularly in the lighter summer months.

While this works well for many, there are some children who are afraid of the dark, especially once they become toddlers. None of us want to start letting the light peek in so I thought I’d explore some ways to help little ones feel more comfortable in their darkened bedroom. I’m no psychologist but these are the things we’ve tried and found to work.

How to help children who are afraid of the dark

1. A small night light. Some baby monitors have them included or the ones that are a slightly enlarged plug work really well. Often just a small light is enough to help children feel at ease.

2. Instead of a night light you could leave the hall light on outside the bedroom so they can see a sliver of light under the door for reassurance.

3. When the lights are turned out, make sure there are no shadows that look creepy. Children’s imaginations can run wild thinking of what these shapes could be.

4. If your child is convinced there is a monster lurking under their bed you could check under their bed together to show them there’s nothing there before they get into bed.

5. And if they still think there’s something under their bed/in the wardrobe you could “get” some Monster spray. Basically an old plastic bottle that you can refill with water and squirt under the bed to get rid of    the monsters. Even more convincing if you make your own label!

6. If your child has a special cuddly toy, it can help to encourage them to cuddle up to that when in bed for comfort. They can “look after” each other.

7. Just talking regularly to slightly older children and explaining that they are safe and that there are no such things as monsters etc. can really help. Whenever the subject of monsters comes up, whether at bedtime or during the day, we remember together that monsters aren’t real.

8. Avoid reading stories/watching programmes that are scary, particularly just before bedtime so they’re not already scared when they settle down for the night.

All children are different and find comfort in different things so it can take time to find the best way to reassure them but hopefully this gives you some ideas of things that could help.