Is Your Child Scared of the Dark?


full moon, sleep, fear of darkness

One night--I think my kindergartner was about 3-- the night light blew out. Mommy confession: it hasn't been replaced since. Initially, it didn't get replaced because every time I went to the grocery store, I forgot to pick one up; but there was also a part of me that wanted my son to be comfortable in the dark and I secretly thought, what better way to help that happen.

Today my son is mostly fine in the dark; he shares a room with his younger brother and they still don't have a night light. But occasionally, if the hall lights are out he will express a fear of going upstairs alone. Those times I'll make the trip to his room with him (BTW: he can cut his room light on himself).

Hey, some adults are afraid of the dark; it's a fear that is as natural as it is common.

“The darkness is, physically and metaphorically, the unknown,” says Dr. Jacquie Hetherton, a clinical psychologist in the UK, specializing in phobias. “From an early age we are taught to fear the dark. In many respects it's a survival instinct. But when your child is safely tucked up in their room, with parents to look after them, there is no need for them to be afraid.

“The unknown can contain wonderful, fantastic possibilities, as well as monsters and thieves. When we avoid the dark, it reinforces our misconception that it's a big bad world out there, that it's a scary place. Learning to embrace the darkness is a way of weakening that belief system,” she says.

Some pointers for helping kids who are scared of the dark:

  • Talk through the fear Help your child to rationalize it, but never joke about it. For example, if your child is scared of monsters in the closet, open the doors and check with him or her that there is nothing there. Stress that there is no way a monster could get in.
  • If a child is anxious Gradually dim the lights week by week by moving a lamp farther from the door, or by closing it bit by bit. Don't make them go cold turkey (like I did my kids).
  • Don't stereotype darkness as “scary” Avoid too many stories or TV shows where the dark is portrayed as something filled with monsters and demons.

Good luck and sweet dreams.

Is your child afraid of the dark? How do you help comfort her?

behavior, independence, sleep


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Tickl... TickledBlue

I used to be afraid of the moon, thinking that it was following my family when we drove at night! I think that anything different is subject to fear regardless of age. I actually spent a couple of months at my uncles house and discovered that my 20 year old cousin was afraid of the dark. We shared a room and at night, the bathroom light would have to be left on so that it beamed upon her


Peajewel Peajewel

My daughter is only two and so afraid of the dark and I have no idea why.  I feel so bad for her but she flips out when she sees dark.  My son was always afraid as well too.  I just always left a light on for my son and one day he decided on his own to turn it off.  I will probably do the same for my daughter!

melit... melittler

Both of my kids, ages 8 and 6, are afraid of the dark. They both have nightlights in their rooms. At night, my son and daughter have to turn the hallway light on just so they can either go to the bathroom or to their rooms without having to go in the dark.

lucho... luchousdiva

My son who just turned 6 was afraid the dark.  I have to leave the bathroom light on, then open his blinds so that he can have the street lights and moon lights. 

cynpoore cynpoore

Okay I know this is going to sound strange but it actually worked. My daughter was always terrified of the dark. Then one day it stopped. One stormy day she asked me where her wolf was.She's the queen of stuffies but I did not remember a wolf. Thinking it might be a dog I had her describe it. His name was Mr Toffit and he was tall like her uncle. Who by the way is over 6ft. It turns out that he's a werewolf because who else can protect you from the dark than something that comes out at night. Though this might be strange but it has worked for almost for years even when not at home. To each their own.


justa... justanotherjen

As far as I know none of my kids are afraid of the dark.  We've never used nightlights with them and at night their doors are closed, shades are down and lights are all off.  Only my oldest ever complained when she was a toddler but grew out of it.

My almost 3yo puts herself to bed now.  She goes in, gets her jammies on, turns off the light, closes her door and gets in bed.  But her curtains don't block a lot of light coming in so she gets light from the street outside...more then a nightlight might give off.  Same goes now with the kids' room upstairs.  One shade is missing and they keep the other open sometimes.  There is a light in the alley that lights up the room enough to see if they have to get up at night.

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