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Being afraid of the dark is something we have all experienced at some point in our lives. We often rely on our senses in order to be fully aware of our surroundings in order to feel safe. Which makes darkness full of the unknown, which often allows the mind to fill the gaps with our fears of when the unknown could be. In this post we are going to provide our top tips on how to help your child (or perhaps even yourself) get over the fear of darkness in order to get to sleep.
Often times we leave the light on in the bedroom as we read or sing our little ones to sleep.
Then we get up to leave the room and turn off the lights. This leads to your little one waking up or begging for the light to stay on. This is typically increased with the anxiety of you leaving the room.
Instead, try turning off the light while you’re still in the room. This gives your child the comfort of you still being in the room as they adjust to the change. They can physically feel you comforting them as well as hear your voice. These are two comforting sensations that do not involve sight.
One great way to do this is with a light that slowly dims in order to make the transition into darkness more gradual. This makes the transition into a darker room much easier.
There are even lights that dim so slowly that your child can fall asleep with the lights only low and they will slowly turn off after they have fallen asleep. While some dim on a timer, others can be scheduled or controlled remotely.
Either way upgrading your lighting so that it can gradually turn off instead of relying on the flip of a switch, can be very helpful when trying to get your child familiar and comfortable in a dark room.
A night light is a great way to ease your child into sleeping in the dark. It is much darker than leaving a hallway or closet light on, and some of them can even have sensors to only turn on with movement and shut off after a certain period of time. In an ideal world, eventually your little one will have the full confidence to no longer fear the dark and sleep comfortably without the assistance of a night light. Although it is a great step in the right direction and can be a great compromise.
We know that some parents don’t like night lights, as they see them as a crutch. However, keep in mind that it can take time to gain the confidence and bravery for you child to know there are no scary monsters in their room. So until your child becomes more comfortable with the dark, this is a great way
Get creative and find some fun ways to play in the dark. Try involving glow in the dark toys, you can even do this in the dark time with the lights off first in order to introduce playing in the dark before bedtime. This way your child can associate fun times with being in the dark.
Then find some glow in the dark bedroom accessories like pajamas, soft cuddly toys, and bedding.
This can add some fun to their bedtime routine which makes it fun to turn out the lights and enjoy their glow in the dark toys and accessories.
If your child is incredibly fearful or anxious about sleeping in the dark, then teaching them relaxation techniques might be very helpful for them. You can sit with them and teach them slow breathing exercises along with other techniques.
There are many different versions of relaxation techniques some of which may work better for your child better than others, so try out a few and see which they like best.
Try to teach them how to do these exercises on their own as well. This way if they wake up in the middle of the night, they have the tools they need in order to calm themselves down and get back to sleep on their own.
Typically it is wild imaginations that turn the dark into something to be afraid of. However, there are ways in which you can use their imagination to fight back. Give your child an action they can do in order to fall asleep at night when they are afraid.
For example, a phrase they can say to scare off any boogie creatures in the night. Or give your child a glow in the dark wand that can be their nighttime weapon, anytime they wave their magic wand all of the monsters will fly away.
If you are working as a family to rid the fear of sleeping in the dark, try using a reward system. We suggest having a reward in the mornings for a full nights sleep without the light on. However, you could take steps with sleeping without mom or dad, with a night light instead of a closet light or what have you, and then for sleeping with a glow in the dark object, or what have you. Everyone has their own version of success with these things.
Whatever that may be, have a system in the morning that they get a gold star on a chart. Then for every night they are brave or make good progress they get to put a star on the chart. After a week give them something small like a piece of candy.
Then after a month of success they can have a big reward like a small toy or a trip to the zoo. This will likely work best for older children who can understand actions and future rewards however this can also be a great learning tool for that as well.
Weighted blankets are a great tool for providing comfort from anxiety. This is because a weighted blanket feels like a big hug. Which then releases comfort and relaxation hormones in your brain. This can be very helpful for a fearful or anxious child that struggles to self soothe.
A weighted blanket could help them to calm down at night and make it easier for them to feel safe and at ease in the dark. Just be sure you get a weighted blanket specifically made for kids as adult size weighted blankets are often too heavy for children. Continue reading below for our top favorite products for kids who are afraid of the dark for one of our favorite weighted blankets for kids.
When it comes to being afraid of the dark there may be a few helpful items out there. Whether a cute nightlight, fun decals or a calming weighted blanket is the answer, at lease there are options to try. Below are a few of our favorites!