Guest Post by Katy Fleming, MA, LPC, BSN, RN
As shadows cast in the darkness, fear often keeps our little ones awake at night. By age 2 or 3, kids develop a sense of imagination, often leading to wandering minds.
In childhood, these fears are typically irrational such as worrying about the boogeyman or monsters under the bed. These long, sleepless nights turn into cranky mornings and eventually may affect your kiddo’s development.
6 Mantras to Teach Kids Who Are Afraid Of The Dark
Most children and even adults cower when something goes bump in the night. It’s understandably scary for our children to struggle with sleeping through a dark night.
Instill confidence and security in your kids with these powerful phrases and helpful tips to overcome the darkness.
1. “I’m not afraid of the dark, I fear the unknown.”
Take time to investigate the root cause of your child’s fear. Use open-ended questions to find the reason why your kiddo is scared of the dark.
They may simply agree with direct questions, so be sure to ask in an open manner such as, “Can you tell me more about what’s upsetting you?” rather than, “Are you afraid of that shadow?”
Identifying the cause of your little one’s fear allows you to provide a more effective solution. Sometimes, simply listening empathetically alleviates some of the anxiety.
Avoid checking the closet for monsters as this may reinforce their fear. Instead, start an open conversation to ensure that your child is heard. Recognize their specific triggers to offer support and encouragement.
2. “We can wind down together.”
Develop a healthy bedtime routine to allow your child to wind down. Scary movies, television shows, bedtime stories, or even songs may disturb your kiddo at night.
Try focusing on calming activities such as taking a warm bath and then reading a children’s book with a positive message. Avoid electronics an hour before bedtime as it may lead to difficulty falling asleep.
3. “Let’s breathe together.”
Anxiety-driven fear affects our physical health from sweaty palms to an upset stomach or racing heart. Encourage your little one to calm their body and mind by teaching some basic relaxation techniques.
Deep breathing exercises assist in alleviating those overwhelming feelings and anxious thoughts. It relaxes the body by reducing a rapid heart rate and increasing oxygen levels.
Ask your child to place one hand on their belly and the other on their chest. Encourage them to slowly breathe in through their nose and exhale as if they're blowing out birthday candles. You can ask your little one to count while they breathe and focus on the rise and fall of their hands.
4. “When I sleep in my room, we add to the sticker chart.”
Young children respond well to rewards and praise. A positive reinforcement system such as a sticker chart or earning a toy encourages your little kiddos to face their fears.
Set up a small reward system and continually praise positive behavior to instill confidence. Allow your child to go at their own pace to overcome this fear.
5. “When scared, I hold my special teddy bear close.”
Nighttime fear and anxiety are often lessened with a comforting item nearby. Many children find a stuffed animal or favorite blanket calming in stressful times.
These security items can imitate the comfort and soothing nature of Mom and Dad. Giving your little one a special stuffed animal provides a meaningful sentiment and courage to face the darkness.
Additionally, a night light may ease their nerves while adding some fun. Let your child choose from a character-shaped night light, glow-in-the-dark stars to stick on the ceiling, or a night-light projector to cast fun animals on the wall.
Ask your child how you can help them feel safe and offer some choices.
6. “I’m brave!”
Remind your child of their strength and courage through positive affirmations. Encourage positive self-talk to rewire negative thinking patterns that lead to anxious fear.
Continue to validate their feelings and ensure that you’re not minimizing their concerns. You can remind your little one of another time that they were brave such as trying a new food or attending a new school when it seemed scary.
Promote self-confidence in your child through positive self-talk and affirmations.
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- 5 Things to Know About Nasal Hygiene
- Why Do Kids Always Go to The School Nurse?
Sometimes it’s exhausting and stressful to continually manage the cries of monsters under the bed. It’s important to remain patient and empathetic as you work together with your little one to overcome their fear of the darkness.
For further questions or concerns, contact your child’s pediatrician for assistance.
As a licensed counselor and registered nurse, Katy approaches freelance writing with years of experience and a unique perspective. Alongside her partner, Katy loves to travel the world and embrace other cultures from volcanoes in Iceland to villages in India.
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The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.