Mom, I’m Scared of the Dark!

Children are afraid of many things as they grow up. Many parents report night time fears as one of the main reasons they have a hard time getting their little ones to sleep at night.  Being afraid of the dark is a normal part of child development and parents should learn to give children comfort in these moments of fear.

Why Are Children Afraid of the Dark?

Parents would love to be able to answer this question and get a good night sleep. But for many children there is no real answer. Sure they saw a scary commercial, they got scared during the storm or the clown at the birthday party haunts them- these are all valid reasons to be scared of the dark.  And for some children, “just because” is also a valid reason.

Children began to dream and have nightmares at night as their brain’s develop.  The more they are learning and taking in during the day, the more their brain is processing during the night.  Often between 2-9 are the peak times for nightmares.

Do We Let Them Sleep with Us?

NO, NO, NO!  I often tell parents that once you start down the slippery slope of bringing them to your bed to sleep, you will never sleep alone again.  The goal is always to have them sleep in their room and in their bed.  How can you help them feel safe in their room should always be your game plan.

Parents often have tried many solutions like leaving the lights on, or having them sleep with 100 stuffed animals to no avail. Each child and the solution for them to sleep in their room may be different.

Fear Detectives- Tips to Calm the Fear

Parents should talk with their children to make sure that they totally understand the fear presented by their child. Make sure to ask what makes you afraid? When are you afraid? How often are you afraid? Questions that help you to get to the bottom of their fear, are great questions.  We want to be fear detectives.

Next create a plan of solutions with your child and ask them if they think the solutions would work. Many times as parents we tell our children what they are going to try and of course, it fails miserably.

Continue to try solutions and think outside of the box. If you need help with problem solving with your child there is a great model, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions by Dr. Ross Greene that helps children and parents solve problems.

Read A Book

I had a wonderful opportunity to interview Chad Cramer, author of Lights Out! Helping Your Kids Overcome Their Fear of the Dark.  Chad offers up many helpful solutions to parents and children about tackling this very real fear.

Chad’s radio interview is below:

Kohl’s has teamed up with author Salina Yoon to create a children’s book, Stormy Night, that helps children and parents deal with the fear of storms.  This book offers great solutions from singing together, reading a book and giving each other a kiss in order to forget about our fear of the storm.

Side Note: To date, Kohl’s has raised nearly $300 million through the Kohl’s Cares merchandise program. To reinforce the company’s commitment to children’s health, Kohl’s has donated financial support to hospitals across the country. The donations fund hospital outreach programs focused on children’s health initiatives and address the specific issues needed most in each hospital’s community. These tailored programs provide vital resources to families at no cost and include topics such as injury prevention, asthma awareness, dental care, and fitness. A complete list of hospital partners is available online.

Solutions Families Have Tried

Here is a list of solutions I know that families have tried:

Having a sleep over in the child’s room

Leaving the lights on until their child falls asleep

Using character night lights that glow on the walls

Using glow lights, stars, and glow in the dark pictures

Having a time of prayer about fear

Singing together or using music at bedtime

Doing a room safety check (for monsters)

Closing blinds and adding extra layers to curtains

Remember parents you want to acknowledge their fear as being real, offer comforting solutions, and hopefully all will get a good night’s sleep.playing-time-1246157

Well if you have stumbled across my blog, know that I am a parent right in the midst of it, just like you.  I hope to share my thoughts, guest experts who will help us all (me too!), and my prayer for each parent is to parent with power and peace.

Parenting Tip on Fear of The Dark Below:

My favorite verse, serves as a guide for me as I parent my children:
Proverbs 22:6
 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I encourage you today to have parenting that is effective and prevailing, creates friendship and unity as you provide guidance, love and care for your children.

Until Next Session,
Dr. Stacy


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