Somewhere after the long days and months of late-night feedings and diaper changes, and dealing with crying babies, you might experience a new kind of trial. Kids often have a fear of the dark and/or a fear of monsters hiding under the bed. The question is then, how to help your child overcome their fear of the dark.
Having never been afraid of the dark myself as a kid, I honestly thought it was something movies and TV shows exaggerated. You’ve probably seen one, where there’s a young child who’s absolutely convinced that a monster is hiding in his closet or under his bed, and refuses to go to sleep. When my son was 2, this was him, and my husband and I spent countless nights with him huddled up in the bed with us. If this sounds familiar, I have some advice on how to deal with kids who are scared of the dark.
No More Monsters: How To Help Kids Who Are Scared of the Dark
It’s Probably Just a Short Phase
Alex, like most kids, was only scared of the dark for a short while. For most kids, this is stage they’ll grow out of, luckily.
But there are still things you can do to help them cope with it.
A big reason why kids end up scared of the dark, or believing there are monsters under the bed, is because they have wild, active imaginations.
It’s not hard to believe that the rough, dark outline of a sweater is actually a terrifying goblin ready to strike. That is, if you’re a toddler.
I found that one of the best things to do is to stick to only calm, soothing TV shows and entertainment before bed.
And it should be happy, upbeat stuff. Have you ever noticed how dark and scary most Disney movies are in places?
Setting up a bedtime routine is crucial. What you do here is up to you, but some ideas could be: a nice bedtime story, a warm bubble bath, singing lullabies and even just sitting in bed with him until he falls asleep. A consistent bedtime routine works wonders!
A nightlight can also do wonders for making them feel more secure. They’re really cheap; you can find one at Target, Walmart, or even a dollar store for a few bucks. You can also give them a flashlight as a security blanket of sorts. It’s there if they need it, but it’s not on all the time like a night light would be.
Leaving the door open slightly ajar could be helpful. Not being completely isolated in the room does a lot to ease their anxiety and worries.
Playing music or using a nice sound machine can help, too. Complete silence can make matters much worse for a kid who’s scared of the dark.
Reassure them! Simply tell them that there’s nothing to be scared of. There are no monsters or demons lurking in their bedroom, and nothing is going to hurt them.
Calm them Use DIY lavender pillow spray to help them feel calm and relaxed and talk them for a bit as they get sleepy.
Sharing the Same Bed
While I did complain about it at the beginning of my article, letting them share a bed with you isn’t always an awful idea. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand.
A better idea is to stay in their bedroom. That way, they don’t get used to the idea if staying in yours, and you’re not reinforcing the idea that there’s something to be scared of in their room.
What you could do is tell them you’ll come to check on them every 5 minutes. Then, you start to space it out more: to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, and hopefully they’ll be asleep before long.
Summing It Up
Nighttime fears are very common in young children, and sometimes there’s nothing we can do to make them go away.
For most kids, it’s just a phase they’ll quickly grow out of. We just need to help them along the way a little bit.
Just try to have patience and not loose your cool. I know it can be frustrating to deal with, but it’s important to keep calm. Don’t get upset at your son or daughter!
With a little patience and understanding, and positive reinforcement, I’m sure they’ll be over their fears before you know it!
Do you have any other tips or tricks to help toddlers who are scared of the dark? I’d love to hear them in the comments!