Many children are afraid of the dark, but how do they cope? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but with a little more understanding and some experimentation we can help our children develop the skills to tackle their fears.
Different ways to help your child outwit their nighttime monsters:
1. Pay attention to their fears and pay attention to them.
This is probably the most important thing you can do when tackling a fear. Paying attention to your child’s fears will help them understand what it is they’re afraid of and why.
2. Build on positive feelings: It’s not all about the darkness!
Don’t forget that there can be lots of positives in a dark room, it’s just your imagination that thinks there might be some nasty things out there.
3. Create a safe haven.
Our children need to know that they’re safe, it’s important to create some ‘safe’ space in the dark. This can be as simple as building a ‘space ship’ out of bedding or creating an imaginary secret fort in their own room.
4. Help them to be brave, not bravely not scared: Having a little bravery is fine and all but it should always be done without becoming too scared, particularly when your child is going to bed alone.
5. Encourage your child to face their fears, but not too much.
Facing a fear can be quite daunting and scary but it shouldn’t be too much for them to handle.
6. Be careful not to take things personally: Try not to become defensive if your child is scared of you – they are just afraid of the unknown.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask too much of them: As a parent you will worry about your child’s wellbeing, but help them accept their fears and work through it.
8. Let your child know that you will always be there for them.
Let your child know that no matter what happens that you will always be there for them and their fears will soon pass.
9. Don’t be afraid to enlist some help: Children generally don’t want to feel different and so unless the situation is really bad they may not want to talk about their fears or get help. It can sometimes help to persuade them by enlisting the help of a professional, a friend or even family member who will help you. Children will be more likely to open up if their trust in you isn’t undermined.
10. Sometimes the problem is just ‘too big’ for words: If your child is really struggling with fear and you can’t seem to help then try and get them to draw or model their fears, this will help them articulate the problem.
Fear of the dark is something that many children suffer with. It’s a common childhood fear and it can be a huge problem. The simple truth is that most children cope well with their fears, but it does take some practice and some good old fashioned hard work to get them to stop using the things around their room as scape-goats for their fears.
So let’s start by reassuring them that no matter what happens, you will always be there for them. And remember, understanding and knowing can make all the difference.
Different children will have different ways of coping with their fears, so as a parent you will have to adapt to your child’s needs in order to help them.