Fear of Darkness is Not Uncommon
It’s not unusual for children to develop a fear of darkness. But if your child is afraid of darkness, then it can have a significant negative impact on their life. This fear can keep them from going to sleep, cause nightmares and daytime fearfulness, making them hypervigilant about being alone in any place where there isn’t enough light.
The fear of darkness is termed Nyctophobia. It may develop in children as early as 2 years of age or may develop later in life. A fear becomes a phobia when it starts impacting one’s day-to-day life making it difficult for them to even stay alone in the daytime.
Reasons Why Children Have Fear of Darkness
There are a lot of reasons why darkness makes your child fearful. Some common ones are:
- Children may fear that something might happen when they can’t see anything and their imagination goes wild with what could be hiding out there in the blackness all around them.
- Fear of monsters or ghosts. This fear is common in young children and can be explained to them by parents that there are no such things as monsters so they do not have to worry about it.
- Fear of being left alone at night. It may cause a child to scream for their mommy or daddy when the lights go out.
- DNA plays a role. Yes, fear of the dark is a fear that can run in families. If parents have a similar fear, their children might develop it too.
- Fear of not being able to see your loved ones and, for this reason, children often have difficulty sleeping alone in their bedroom.
- Fear due to traumatic experiences such as being attacked or threatened with weapons by intruders on the street during nighttime hours;
- Some movies or storybooks dealing with ghosts or supernatural elements can cause fear of darkness.
- The fear may manifest as a fear of people, animals, or unfamiliar objects in an environment that is not well lit and where there are no distinguishing features such as furniture.
- A fear instigated by any one event, for example being chased downstairs during nighttime hours by someone.
How Can you Help your Child Overcome Their Fear of Darkness?
Listen to your child:
Fear of darkness is a fear that mostly belongs to children. It’s normal for all kids (and even grown-ups) to feel scared in the middle of an empty room or at night when they can’t see anything and there are no sounds except their own heart pounding.
Read a story:
When kids are afraid of something, it is important to give them some positive affirmation. A nice way to do so would be to read out a nice storybook to them before going to bed.
Save a fear-of-the-dark story:
Keep a journal or scrapbook to save your child’s fear stories, drawings, poems, etc. Remember that fear is not easy to overcome but it can be done with some extra effort.
Switch on the small light while your baby is asleep, or leave a night light on in their room.
Get your child’s input:
Ask what would make it easier for them not to be scared anymore. If they want you to sleep beside them, then do so for a couple of nights.
Teach them some breathing exercises:
In any fearful situation, staying calm is extremely vital. Breathing exercises are not only calming, but they can also help to manage fear.
Try some relaxation techniques:
Relaxation techniques will allow your child’s mind and body to feel less stressed or tense which may lead them away from fear. You can try some of these ideas together like reading a book, taking deep breaths, listening to music, etc.
Set up a sleep-friendly environment:
Ambience plays a very important role in combating the fear of darkness. It is important that your child has some sort of light on when they go to sleep or are trying to relax, try turning up your living room lights and putting an extra table lamp next to their bed for example.
Create a night-time routine:
Routines can help our minds feel more comfortable and ready to sleep comfortably. So wash your hands and legs, brush your teeth and hair, put on comfortable PJs, and lay down on the bed all cosy to get a goodnight’s sleep.
Put fear into perspective:
Explain to your kids that fear is normal but it should not take the better of them.
The article has shown you a variety of ways to help your child overcome their fear of darkness. Hopefully, this information will be helpful and informative for all parents who are trying to support their children during these difficult times in life. What strategies would work best for overcoming fears like those that haunt our little ones? Let us know what’s worked well for you by commenting below!