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10 Ways to Deal with Kids that are Scared of the Dark
July 23, 2011 | in Babysitting Jobs
As either a parent or a babysitter, dealing with kids’ fear of darkness can be a consuming consideration. We feel bad for the kids; we sometimes even become impatient with their fears. Here are 10 ways to help deal with kids who fear the dark.
- Night Lights. Night lights can be good ways to deal with darkness fears, and have the added advantage of helping your child avoid stubbed toes and barked shins when awakened in the night to use the bathroom. The downside of night lights is that they can relieve symptoms while leaving the core problem of darkness fear in place.
- Dimmer Switches. A dimmer switch installed in a child’s bedroom will allow you to gradually adjust the nighttime light level in room downward, and allow a child to adjust to lower levels until the light becomes unnecessary.
- Encourage Discussion of Fears. Encourage your child to talk about her or his darkness fear. Show them that you understand, and help them learn to tell the difference between fears of real and imagined things.
- Stay Calm. First and foremost, present a calm and relaxed face in response to a child’s fear of the dark. Anger, obvious frustration, or any sort of disapproval will only add fear of misbehavior to the darkness fears of a child.
- Limit Bedtime Television. Television just before bedtime is usually a bad idea for young kids. Kids’ imaginations can take any sort of video/audio input and turn it into something to fear. The time just before bed is better used for quiet conversation and the reading or telling of age-appropriate, happy stories.
- Play Games. A game such as hide and seek can be used to help a child adjust to darkness. Encouraging the child to hide in semi-dark places as part of the game, or to look for a hiding parent in dark places, can help them to gradually learn that there is nothing to fear from darkness itself.
- Bedside Radio. A small radio on the child’s bedside table can be very useful in calming fear of darkness. Quiet music at bedtime and turned on if a child awakens fearful in the night, is a great distraction from fear, and the human voices can help a child feel as if he or she is not alone in the dark.
- Positive Self-Talk. Teaching a child to speak positively to her or himself can also be very helpful. When the fear begins to set in, the child can speak out loud to self and room, saying things such as: “It’s just dark, there’s nothing to be afraid of, Mommy and Daddy are just down the hallway” is one way that a child can learn to calm down without having to call for help.
- Scheduled Look-Ins. Make a bedtime contract with your child. Discuss and agree on scheduled look-ins. You can promise to look in after 5 minutes, and again after 15 minutes, and again after 30 minutes, until the child is sleeping. These look-ins can be reduced over time.
- Reward Progress. Be sure to offer praise, and reward progress toward reducing fears. Let the child know that you’re noticing how well they are doing.
These 10 methods can all be very helpful in reducing a child’s fear of the dark. Do not, however, hesitate to speak to your family doctor or consult a specialist if your child’s fears continue or increase over time.← 10 Reasons to Have the Sitter Come to Your House | 10 Ways to Determine the Rate to Pay your Sitter →
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