While children grow and develop their imagination, the dark often becomes something they’re naturally afraid of. They imagine all kinds of monsters under the bed—and it’s up to you to stop them. Read on for advice on how to combat your child’s nighttime fears.
The fear is a part of the age
Children from ages two to around eight or nine often have nighttime fears in their development stages, says Patricia Sheets, a professor of counseling education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Imaginations run wild, and children learn more about the dangers in the world. Sometimes, you just have to accept that your child will eventually grow out of the fear. However, there are some steps you can take to alleviate their fears.
Identify the fear, but don’t support the monsters!
The Cleveland Clinic suggests asking your child an open-ended question about what makes him or her scared. It’s important not to make fun of your child for their fear, but do not support their belief in imaginary monsters. Saying you’ll fight the monster only confirms that the monster is real!
Make your child feel safe in his or her room
You may be tempted to simply let your child sleep in your bed whenever he’s scared. While it’s always fun to snuggle with your child, taking your child out of his room confirms for him that his room isn’t safe. You should comfort your child in his room, if possible. The Cleveland Clinic recommends assuring your child that you will check on him periodically, rather than staying in your child’s room.
Embrace comforting objects like night-lights and teddies
Night-lights help build a sense of security for your child during the night time. Other objects can also have a comforting presence, like a teddy bear. You can reassure your child that the teddy bear will protect him during the night, and even act out stories with the teddy! This will help your child actively overcome her fears.
Read a bedtime book to them
There are tons of children books that will make the night time seem more welcoming. Some classics include Goodnight Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight and Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? Not only does bedtime reading help to develop your child’s literacy, but it also provides a comforting story to combat the scary stories they come up with in their head.