Bedtime fears: What to do if your child has a fear of the dark?

Bedtime can be a scary experience for children who are afraid of the dark, perhaps because it prompts a fear of the unknown.

Whether its monsters in the closet, or even the fear of sleeping alone, a child’s imagination can run wild during a dark night.

TEMPUR looks at why bedtime fears exist, and ways you can help your child overcome their fear of the dark…

Why is my child afraid of the dark?

Being scared of the dark is one of the most common childhood fears. Whether your child has an anxious personality, or is simply just scared of things lurking in the shadows, their fears are valid and all part of a human’s development.

A child’s evolving imagination means that fears can stem from almost anything, and it’s not just monsters in the closet which they might be worried about.

Part of growing up means experiencing everything for a first time, and this itself is scary for children. For instance, fears often emerge from something your child has seen or heard, and can be heightened if this is something unfamiliar.

Types of bedtime fears

As mentioned, children can be scared of anything, however irrational it may seem. Whatever it is that they fear in the dark will largely come from the inability to see what’s around them. It is a fear of the unknown which can even unsettle adults.

Bedtime fears also depend on age, and some include:

  • Imaginary creatures – monsters, goblins, werewolves and trolls are probably what keep your toddler awake at night due to their young, developing imaginations
  • Shadows – whether it’s a doll or a clothes stand, the shapes which shadows create can cause all of us a fright
  • Noises – from footsteps to loud bangs, noises will make anyone jump. However, older children will be more conscious of them, perhaps associating funny noises with burglars instead of made-up creatures

What can you do to help?

Helping your child overcome their fear of the dark can be a long process, so be patient. It’s essential that your child feels supported when trying to combat their fears, whatever they may be.

Sticking to a bedtime routine will help your child relax before bed, soothing any other anxieties from the day that they may have acquired. However, there are other things you can do to help your child tackle their fears of the dark:

  • Read bedtime stories
  • Purchase a comforter – whether it’s a special blanket, or a cuddly toy like the TEMPUR Soft Plush Animals, having something to cuddle when scared will help soothe your child
  • Make lights reachable – light switch extenders, night lights, battery operated lights
  • Remove scary shadows – ask your child to show you which shadows scare them. Once you have found the object, show them that it was nothing to fear
  • Have fun in the dark – shadow puppets are exciting and intriguing. They will help your child associate night time with fun, rather than fear, and allow them to feel in control of the shadows which scare them

By helping your child to overcome their fears, you’re also giving them valuable life skills and teaching them how to cope independently. Rewarding your child for facing their fear will give them motivation to continue!

Is your child scared of the dark? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below…

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