Fear is a normal part of life for all of us, including young children. It tends to start when you try something new, something that you’ve never experienced before, something that is an unknown. For kids, this happens almost every day, so fear has a lot of opportunity to rear its ugly head -- especially at night.
Most children experience fears at some time during their lives. In most cases these fears are a normal part of development. One common fear that children experience is fear of the dark. Fear of the dark can take many forms. One of the most common forms of fear of the dark is fear of sleeping in a dark room and since this type of fear usually occurs at night, it often interferes with the sleep of other family members.
Usually, the fear of the dark occurs at the age of 2-3 years, when they’re old enough to imagine, but not wise enough to distinguish fantasy from reality, This gives the unknown an opportunity to turn scary.
What causes kids’ fear of the dark?
- Television is one of the worst offenders when we’re talking about a fear of the dark. Fear of the dark usually expresses other fears that a child may have. The sights and sounds on TV are too stimulating for their brains exposing kids to things that might not be scary for an adult but are terrifying for a child.
- Images can provoke already active imaginations. Drawings of monsters, fairy tales and witches or even snakes,mice and spiders.. kids can misinterpret images and bulid up fears that an adult might not recognize.
- Parents' threatening like "You better behave or the monster will get you" , "Take care of monster under the bed, if u won't brush your teeth he will get you" , "If you are a good boy, the monsters will go away" these simple phrases can bring a violent nightmares.
- Tales about scary monsters, witches or even angels and devils.-Stress in general, like divorce, the death of a pet, or the birth of a baby, can increase the risk for anxiety to anyone and especially to kids. As a result, that anxiety can appear at night as a fear of the dark.
What Parents Can Do?
- The best thing a parent can do for a child with a fear of the dark is to communicate, be respectful, and show that you understand. Don’t tell them their fear is silly, because not only it doesn't help and they’re still scared, but also they will feel guilty and ashamed, too.
- Be calm when you’re talking to your child about his fear of the dark Listen and make sure you don’t exaggerate and exacerbate to make it worse.
- Don’t play into the fear of the dark Don’t say to your child "Let me make sure there aren’t any monsters under the bed" You are giving him the idea that his fear has credibility, and he won’t be able to get over it until he understands it honestly.
- Limit the viewing of scary television shows/movies-Encourage gradual exposure encourage your child to confront his fear gradually but do not force him to do anything he is not comfortable with.
There are many ways you can help your child by:
- Play games like hide and seek encouraging children to hide in dark rooms, or hiding in dark rooms yourself and let he try to find you, having children run into a dark room and stay in there for progressively longer periods of time...
- Use a dimmer switch, you can connect a dimmer switch to your child's bedroom light, adjust the light to a level that the child feels comfortable with. Every few days you can turn the light down lower and lower until your child feels comfortable in complete darkness.
- Teach positive self-talk (saying positive things about one's self to one's self). It is a very powerful tool for children to overcome fears. The more children repeat good things to themselves about themselves, the more likely they will be to actually believe them and incorporate the positive feelings that go along with them. For example "I'm not afraid. It's just dark. Mommy and Daddy are in the next room. There's nothing in here that can hurt me."
- Make sure children sleep in their own beds. Children who are afraid of the dark often try to crawl into their parents' bed. This is often a very hard habit to break, so it's a good idea not to start it in the first place. If a child gets up in the middle of the night, you should lead him directly back to bed. It is also not a good idea for parents to climb into their child's bed until he goes back to sleep. Such action may send the signal to the child that there really is something to be afraid of. Parents should, after returning their child to his bed, offer comfort and support and then return to their own beds.
- Praise/reward progress, do progress charts
Seek professional help for fears that persists:
With the support of an understanding parent, most kids can get over a fear of the dark in a few weeks. But if the fear lasts longer, it’s time for a conversation with your pediatrician to determine if it's worthwhile for your child to get some help.
Your Baby checkup
what are the vaccinations that he should have taken until now?
Generate a report for my baby.
Track Your Baby Vaccinations
Find Your Baby name
Al Sheikh Zayed