Fear of the dark has to do with the fear of the unknown, of what is not seen, and of what appears to be a threat, especially to the children. This situation is common when the little ones start to be afraid of the dark, thus, start to fantasize about it. As children begin to fantasize, the void is filled with whatever the imagination allows, usually without the child having any control. This applies to bedtime and also to other fears, such as the fear that in the absence of the parents, something bad will happen to them or fear of making friends, for assuming negative events.
However, fantasizing that something is threatening is not necessarily bad, as it is part of the development and, in many cases, helps to protect against possible real risks. Fantasy and imagination are also not villains. On the contrary, they can even help to overcome the fear of the dark when stimulated positively. A good example of how this can happen is to stimulate the child’s imagination with happy and good-natured things before going to sleep so that they populate their dreams or imagination with things that do not cause fear to them.
Tips to Help Children Deal with Fear of the Dark
The fear of the dark can generate a lot of anxiety, damaging the routine and family relationships, as the child needs special care. To better help the little ones who start to be afraid of the dark, the following tips can help you find better ways to lighten this delicate moment of development in your children’s lives.
Make Changes in the Environment: Make sure your little one feels comfortable in their bedroom and that the lighting is adequate. You can design the wall with a 3D moon and stars stickers that glow in the dark or arrange to leave a dim light on or a lamp within reach so he feels safer. Little stars on the wall beside their bed or the ceiling encourage the little ones to feel comfortable in the environment before going to sleep. You can as well use musical or sound devices with color lights such as a white noise machine or whatever else you agree on that can be reassuring for them.
Use Half-Light or Moon Stickers: Children who are afraid of the dark can regain confidence when there is something like dim lights to illuminate the room or even a wall sticker with light full moons, which emit soft colors at night, allowing children to sleep comfortable and end their fear of the dark.
Let Children Understand The Truth About Darkness: When the child knows that the so-called ghost or monsters are nothing but trees blown up by the wind and flapping doors and window curtains, he will no longer be afraid in his mind. Or know that the shadow he has been afraid of is actually clothes hung on the hanger; he will feel calmer and confident to be along in the dark.
It is only when the child discovers that what he is worried about is not terrifying, can he overcome his inner fear. So, parents can talk to the children according to what they said or believe. Once the child understands the truth, he will never feel terrified in the dark. Always tell your child that there are no ghosts or monsters in the world at all and that they are all made up stories by people. That the dark night is a normal natural phenomenon, therefore, there is nothing to be afraid of.
Downplay Fear: When a child says that there are terrible things in the dark, parents should try and downplay such belief. You can smile and say, “there is nothing.” It is obvious that when a child is scared, you can make him overcome it by saying something that interests him or make him watch some cartoons to divert his attention. The best way to make a child overcome his fear is to downplay his fear and divert his attention.
Let Children Play Some Happy Games In the Dark: I remember that when we were small, we lived in the countryside and had dinner at night. It was dark and a group of children used to play hide-and-seek together. Everyone was having a great time, and no one was afraid. Some children even fell asleep hiding in the stack of firewood and were awakened by the loud calls of their parents in the middle of the night.
Now there are no conditions for children to hide and seek outside. Parents can after dinner, take the kids for a walk, count the stars, and watch the moon. You can also play games with other children so that children can learn how to adapt to the dark, hence, forget the fear of darkness.
Seek Help From A Professional: If fear has become something that will bother your little one and hinder their development, it is worth looking for a professional. After all, fear can be a symptom of veiled and intense anguish.
Causes of Children’s Fear in the Dark
The basic causes of children’s fears in the dark include:
- Fear of the dark atmosphere.
- Fear of supernatural beings.
- Fear of sleeping alone.
- Fear of the shadows.
- Fear of noise.
Faced with one or more fears like these, children may refuse to go to sleep or arrange the most unreasonable excuses to delay the time to face the bed as much as possible. Others will experience compulsive crying or signs of anxiety, such as tremors and cold sweats. Bedwetting can also be a symptom of nighttime fears. However, it is important to bear in mind that each child deals with the fear of the dark differently, so other manifestations are also possible.
If a child is timid and afraid of the dark, parents should find out the reason why the child is afraid of the dark, and according to the specific situation, find ways to help the child overcome the fear so they will no longer be afraid of the dark and become bold.