Most parents have had to deal with a child who fears the dark. Normally, these fears of the dark, monsters, and nightmares begin when they hit the age of four and can last for a good few years. Normally, these fears stem from the stories and TV shows that they watch. At an early age, children are unable to distinguish facts from fiction and, if they read or watch a story about a monster, they might start to believe that monsters do exist. And then their imagination can start to run wild when they are laid in bed in the dark, and it can be quite difficult to persuade them to sleep!
Lots of parents feel completely helpless when their children suffer from nightmares and a fear of the dark. They don’t think that there is anything that they can do to help ease their child’s fears and make them feel safer and more comfortable in bed. However, that’s not the case. In fact, there is plenty that you can do to help your child sleep better at night. Here are some tips that should help you get rid of your child’s fear of the dark!
Don’t Ignore Your Child
As soon as your children start to have nightmares or starts to talk about a fear of the dark, you need to begin to listen to them. If you simply try to brush off their fears and tell them that they will be fine at night or, even worse, just ignore your child, it could make their fear even worse. You need to listen to them and let them know that it is perfectly normal to have some fears. After all, even some adults have fears, and some of them might even fear the dark! By validating their fears in this way and listening to them, you are showing that you take them seriously and want to help them overcome these fears. This can encourage them to feel proactive in fighting their fear of the dark!
Place A Nightlight in Their Bedroom
Lots of parents find that adding a nightlight to their child’s bedroom can help them get to sleep when they are scared of the dark. The light will shine a soft light in the room so that they aren’t in the complete dark. But the light isn’t too bright that it will keep them awake! Most nightlights come in fun shapes and shine characters or scenes onto the walls and ceiling, which can comfort children through the night.
Take Out Things That Make Scary Shadows
There might be some items of furniture in your child’s bedroom that cast scary looking shadows onto the walls and ceiling. Even if you have a nightlight in the room, these shadows might still scare your child. So, it’s a clever idea to stand in your child’s room with the lights off and nightlight on to see exactly what type of shadows are visible. You can then remove any items that could be creating these nightmare-inducing shapes!
Place Their Bed Next to Light Switches
If your child is old enough to get in and out of bed on their own, you should place their bed close to the light switches in the room. That way, they can easily turn the light on if they ever wake up during the night. That way, they can always turn on the light themselves if they ever wake up after a bad dream and need to comfort themselves. They won’t be so quick to start screaming and crying to get your attention!
Leave the Door Ajar at Night
If there is no way that you can move a light switch or place your child’s bed closer to a light switch, then you might be better off leaving the door open slightly through the night. Just remember that you also need to leave the hall light on so that it shines through into their bedroom. The light can help soothe them and ease their fears.
Ask Them About Their Fears
It’s a clever idea to sit down with your child and talk to them about their fears. While you have your chat together, ask them about all their fears. You should also try and find out where they stem from. For instance, if you find out that they are scared of monsters after watching a scary film, then you should reassure them that monsters don’t actually exist and that the film was entirely made up. It is also worth asking them if there is any way you can make things better for them. For instance, they might think that they will be able to get to sleep better if there is more light in their room. It’s important that you try and accommodate as many of these requests as possible.
Create Positive Associations with Being in Bed
If your child has already created a lot of negative associations with bedtime and sleeping, then you need to try and reverse these and create some positive ones instead. For example, you should tell your child as much as possible that bed is an extremely comfy and cozy place to be, and it is the best place for them to relax after a long day. If you add some pretty pillows and Plumeria Bay comforters, you can really emphasize this fact and help them create a comfortable, sleep inducing environment. There are other positive associations that you should help you children make about being in bed. For instance, you should tell them that being asleep is a chance to dream. Many children enjoy waking up and remembering all the dreams they had through the night. If they are excited about all these happy dreams when they go to bed, they are a lot less likely to have bad nightmares.
Celebrate The Dark
One of the best ways to create a positive association with nighttime is to celebrate the dark! One way to celebrate it is to hold a glow party. You should do this in your child’s bedroom. All you need for the party is some glow sticks and some fun, upbeat music! You then just need to turn off the light in your child’s bedroom. You will be able to have a fun time playing with the glow sticks and dancing to the music. By the end of it, your child should have, hopefully, forgotten all about their fears of the dark! Another terrific way to celebrate the dark is to play with it. So, why not show your child how to make shadow puppets? By spending the time to make fun characters and images with your hands and shadows, you can show that the dark and shadows don’t always have to be scary. In fact, they can both be very entertaining!
If you struggle with setting some positive associations of the dark, even by celebrating it, you should try and set rewards. These rewards and goals need to be realistic and achievable so that your child doesn’t get too frustrated if he or she finds it difficult to reach them. For instance, if your child currently wakes up and cries for you a few times in the night, you should set the goal of only waking and trying to get your attention once. Then, once they are in the habit of only waking up once, you can then try and set a new goal for them to not wake up at all. Some parents like to set up a weekly rewards chart. This should record the number of days in a week that your child is able to reach the goal. If they reach the goal every day in that week, then they should receive a reward at the weekend. Eventually, once your child is well in the habit of sleeping through the night, you can start to phase out this reward system.
Get Professional Help
If there seems to be nothing you can do to help ease your child’s fears and nightmares, you might need to seek professional help. This is especially important if your child’s fears are preventing them from getting enough sleep at night. If you do want to know what professional help you can get, you should speak to your family doctor first. They might be able to prescribe medication or send your child to a child psychologist or sleep expert. A psychologist might find that your child just needs some counseling to help them get over their fears and enjoy a better night’s sleep. After a few sessions, your child will find that it gets much easier to forget their fears and fall asleep.
Dealing with fears of the dark and nightmares isn’t easy for children or parents. But, hopefully, this blog post will have given you a few different ideas that you can try and make things easier during the night. Do you have any other tips that you have found useful for your children? Let us know!