This is something that I had to contend with when I was a little kid and now I am dealing with it in my own children, all of whom are under the age of five and all happen to have fear of the dark. I am searching for the best ways to help them get over this fear and I am now listening to the advice of my friends and family members that have had to address this issue with their own children. They have been great with all of the advice that they have given me, and what I hope to do is share the best information with others so they can use it to help their own kids in the future.
According to many studies that have been conducted over the years, it is quite common for kids under a certain age to be afraid of the dark, as it typically starts showing up when they are still toddlers. Once the cognitive abilities of children begin to expand so does their ability to imagine things, and for many kids, there are fears that never completely go away. There are many kids that get more affected by their fear of the dark than others, with children that have more anxious personalities most likely to be fearful once the lights go out or darkness approaches. I have read about some scared kids following their parents from one room to the next and some that even refuse to go in any room unless the lights are on – sometimes it doesn’t even have to be dark outside! My cousins have told me how bedtime has turned into a nightmare for them because their kids are constantly waking them up at all hours of the night to check on them and calm them down after they have a bad dream.
I would opine that there is no exact time to teach your children to overcome their fears as they are all different. You will know when the time is right for your child. I have even begun teaching small toddlers how to get over their fear of the dark. If they are armed with some techniques to battle their fears, it will help them out in other areas of their lives when it comes to facing challenges. These tips can help them out later in life if they have to battle anxiety.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you never discount the fears of your children. Instead, you attempt to validate their fears of the dark as this has proven to be the best approach to help them get over it. That means not telling kids that they are fine with the situation when you can see that they are not. Try to place yourselves in their shoes and then find a better response for them as kids are naturally curious and are looking to us to placate their fears. I tell my children all the time that they are only scared when the lights go out because they cannot see every single corner and they are letting their imaginations get the best of them. But I say this in a special way so that they are not embarrassed or fearful of expressing their feelings.