Almost all children go through a phase of being afraid of the dark. I imagine even as an adult you’ve had moments of uneasiness when it comes to what could be lurking in the shadows.
Let’s examine some of the causes of why and ways to address your child’s fear of the dark.
One main reason children are afraid of the dark is it is the unknown. Their brains have not yet developed the cognitive reasoning to understand that there is nothing there that could hurt them. They also have much stronger imaginations than adults, making it harder for them to separate fantasy from reality.
Have you watched the movie Monsters Inc.? It does a great job showing us how sounds, shapes, and shadows can play tricks on our minds.
There are various other reasons children can be afraid of the dark, including something they saw in a movie or television show, a scary story they heard, or a fear of something else such as bugs, snakes, or ghosts.
There are possible deeper causes too. Some children's fear may stem from a personal experience such as the loss of someone close, an accident, or some other type of trauma.
The good news is, we can help most children overcome their fear of the dark using some good old fashioned fun and love!
💦 Monster Spray
This is a fun way to help rid their fears. You can rebrand it to match whatever your child is afraid of - Ghost Spray, Spider Spray, Witch Spray...
To make the spray use a plastic spray bottle, water, and a little bit of food coloring (not too much because you don’t want to spray color on everything!). If you’re feeling creative, make a label on your computer to attach to the bottle. Spray a little bit of the Monster Spray under the bed around the door, or wherever they are scared the monsters will come from.
📚 Read Books and Discuss
Read books and talk with your child. One of the best ways to overcome a fear is to have a safe place and person to discuss it. There are many excellent books available from your local library that cover childhood fears. Ask your child about their anxiety in an open and non-judgemental way. While we may know there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark to them, it is very real.
🔦 Get Involved
Practice being in the dark together. Have a “sleepover” in your child’s room, play with flashlights, or use a rotating star nightlight. Watch movies cuddled up in the dark. The more exposure your child has to the dark, the more comfortable they will become.
It is important to remember that all children are different; while some children may overcome their fear in a matter of weeks, for others, it can take months or even years. Eventually, they will overcome their fear, but in the meantime, give them the space to feel and work through their emotions in a loving and supportive way.