The fear of dark

The fear of dark

  Autor NN Team Data: 13.08.2008

The fear of dark
As darkness falls, it seems that Black Man, the Dragon from the fairy tales and a lot of smaller or bigger monsters have agreed to meet in the child's room. The minute the lights turned off, the child begins to sigh and beg not to be left alone. If this is the ritual from every evening in your home, it means that the little one is afraid of the dark. 

Even if the situation gives you headaches, it will take a while; don't forget that at some point it will come to an end. All children (almost without exception) are afraid of the dark. It is one of the most known phobias at children and it tends to diminish or disappear completely as the child grows up and begins to understand the world around him. If a three- four years old child is afraid of the dark because he thinks a monster hides under his bed, a seven-eight years old one knows monsters don't exist, but is afraid that a thief might get inside the house and hurt him. In time, he will understand that this thing is not possible and his mother or his father will protect him. 

Why infants have no problem staying alone in the dark, while preschool children are so afraid, although they are older? The answer is very simple: because preschool children have imagination. The scenarios and the stories about dinosaurs, monsters and thieves which they imagine when they play don't disappear from their minds not even when they go to bed. 

What can you do to help your child? First you shouldn't make fun of him, not even jokingly, or minimize his fear. This will make him not to tell you anything anymore and suffer in silence. Also, don't force him to stay in a dark room. Instead you can do other things which will slowly help him get over his fears. 

Explain to him that he is right to fear of the dark, that many children are afraid of it and that is something normal for his age. 

Ask him why he is afraid of the dark and try to explain him that he has no reason to be scared. In a house steeped in silence a child can hear many strange noises: the heating central which stops or turns off, the water flowing through radiators, a drop of water flowing from the tap. Even if these things may seem ridiculous to you, a child will be afraid, as he doesn't know where they come from. Propose him to listen to these noises together and explain where each of them comes from. Knowing its source, he won't be so afraid. 
Teach your child to calm himself, telling him that his mommy and daddy are always close to him and they can help him. 

Don't force him to stay alone in a dark room. Use a night light or even leave a lit light bulb in his room. Gradually decrease the intensity of the light in the room, and then leave just one lit light bulb in the hall and reward the child every time he manages to overcome his fear, by accepting a lower intensity of the light. 
Help your child to avoid scary movies or any other images which could scare him. The fear he feels during night time is amplified by what he sees during day time. 
Don't scare him, not even jokingly or as a threat. Many parents try to discipline their children by telling them that there is a monster or a person who will come and take away the disobedient children. There many ways to discipline your child, others than this one. 

Tell him about lights and shadows. Show him that a shadow can become bigger or smaller and it can take different shapes, depending on its light source. Show him that he also has a shadow. If the branches of the tree which creates strange shadows in his window are the ones to blame for his fears, remind him that it is the same tree which he admires throughout the day, in which he climbs or from which he reaps the fruits. 

Tell him about your fears. Knowing that his mother is afraid of spiders and his father is afraid of needles and syringes, he will know that adults can get scared and that fear is something normal, but it can be defeated. 

Give him a plush animal to be his "guard" at night. Explain him that the plush bear will stay awake all night and will protect him from anyone who wants to hurt him. For some children this would be enough to make them sleep peacefully. 

Read the English version of this article: The fear of dark