All children go through a phase where they are afraid of the dark. It happens when children advance to a stage of having an active imagination. Their imagination uses the material they hear and saw in television shows, video games and stories in developing the fear. So that now any dark spots or little noises in the night mark the presence of a ghost.
Fears of dark or monsters in the children are very common and are easily excused by the parents but it can lead to serious fear and anxiety in the growing adolescent if not dealt properly.
Here are some suggestions to help your ward overcome such fears:
- Identify the fear and its cause. Ask them to tell you about their fear and what makes them scared at night. Look out for anything that disturbs them in the daytime.
- Show them that you understand their fears but do not support it any manner that confirm your child that the creature exists. Even suggesting that you will destroy them or will look for it encourages the thought.
- Reassure them that they are safe. Tell them that you are here and will be checking upon them briefly.
- Encourage them to speak and believe sentences like ‘I am not afraid; it’s just dark. I am not alone’.
- Keep a small bulb on in the room or corridor outside the room at nights.
- Establish a bedtime routine and keep the environment light and happy before they go to sleep
- Keep in check their television viewing habits and reading materials are appropriate to their age.
- Don’t let them watch anything stimulating such fears especially alone. Specifically news footage, violent and scary movies and books should be avoided completely.
- Work on building their self-confidence during daytime and reinforce positive behavior. Engage in activities which make them more confident about themselves like games involving physical work. Appreciate them on regular basis for small acts too.
- Do not talk about their fears or any embarrassing thing about them like failure in an exam or activity, bed wetting and etcetera in front of others.