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We’ve talked about children’s fear of the dark before, but this is such an ongoing problem for many of us, so we thought we’d revisit it. After all, sleep deprivation is no one’s friend!
In a study by Muris et al 2001 children aged 4 -12 and their parents were interviewed about children's night time fears. Results showed that 73.3% of the children reported night time fears, these fears were common among 4 to 6 year olds, became even more frequent in 7 to 9 year olds and then remained relatively stable in 10 to 12 year-olds.
My personal experience is in line with the study, my 12 year old son seems to be ok at night now, but my 9 year old daughter is still afraid, although she is getting better.
Why do children fear the dark?
Kids have the most amazing imaginations and can develop a fear of pretty much anything. (my daughter is currently afraid when the home phone rings?!) A toddler or child in Kindy can be afraid of unfamiliar things or things out of their control. They don’t have the life experience to explain things, so they turn to the land of magic 4 year old logic, where monsters are real and dragons are living in the trees just outside the window.
As children get older, they fear what the darkness masks and the threats they are unable to spot. They also start to think about real life dangers, like intruders or being taken.
How can I help my child?
From my experience, the best way to get over fear or anxiety is to get more information about it and then problem solve. Here are other ways you can help:
Practical night time solutions
Don’t forget, you are absolutely not going through this alone. Most of us have been there. And please do remember to applaud your little ones’ bravery as they progress, because they are incredibly brave at times, especially when their fears are so real to them.
If things are not getting better and you are worried in anyway, please contact your doctor.
*these are the opinions of the My Night Light team and are solutions we have found to work for our children. We are not medical professionals.