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5 Strategies to Reduce your Child’s Night Time Fears


Source: Google images

Source: Google images

Night time fears and nightmares are extremely common in children, especially during the preschool years. They are part of normal development, as children’s imaginations develop and children begin to understand that there are things that exist that can hurt them. Anything that makes a child more emotionally aroused is going to make his fears worse and make him feel more anxious. Young children are often afraid of monsters and other imaginary creatures, whereas older children are more likely to fear being hurt by more realistic dangers, such as natural disasters.

It is normal for young children to have fears of the dark and going to bed at night. Most children experience night time fears at some point during childhood. If a fear of the dark or going to bed is preventing your child from falling asleep or sleeping through the night, you may consider some of the following strategies to help reduce your child’s fear during the night and help him / her to get better sleep.

Give your child a chance to tell you what makes him / her scared at bedtime. However, do not force your child to talk about the fear if he / she is not ready. Some kids are intrinsically more timid than others. Also, the nature of fear in children is different throughout development. Never dismiss or make fun of a child’s fear. A fear that may seem silly to an adult may seem very real to a child.

Use a nightlight. No matter what your child seems to be afraid of, a night-light can help. Nightlights will certainly be of help in providing security at night even if your child is not afraid of the dark. As long as the light does not interfere with your child’s sleep onset, it is appropriate to have dim light at bedtime.

Offer your child the comfort of a soft toy animal or doll. To provide additional comfort and sense of psychological security, it is also helpful to allow your child to snuggle with his or her favourite soft toy or a blanket throughout the night.

Keep the bedtime routine ‘light,’ happy, and fun. Just an hour or so before bedtime, do not expose your child to scary movies, TV shows, frightening bedtime stories, scary music or videos, or other stimuli that may be upsetting to your child. Rather it is suggested to have a nice family bonding time at the terrace (open space), listening to soothing music and listening to value based stories.

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Kalyani Shankar is a mother of twins and works as a German Linguist in an MNC. Amidst the jam packed busy life of a working mother, she looks forward to spending quality time with her kids when back home. Kalyani loves to introduce thought-provoking and fun activities that interest children. As a Balvikas spiritual educator for children, she strives to include ‘Spirituality and its Relevance’ in daily life situations and mentors parents on the same lines.


2 thoughts on “5 Strategies to Reduce your Child’s Night Time Fears

  1. Kritika Srinivasan

    An old ParentEdge issue had an article on dealing with nighttime fears and phobias in children, for which we interviewed a child psychologist. Here are some more tips from that article to add to your blog:
    – When the child does get fearful about something that he has seen (maybe a movie), do not force him to ‘be brave’. Ensure that he is not exposed to it again, since this indicates that he is not ready for it.
    – Don’t make fun of your child or say things like “oh, you should be brave” or “you’re a boy, how can you be scared?” They need to be assured that there is no need to be anxious and that the parent will take care of whatever is bothering them.
    – If your child is prone to nightmares, physical touch helps. Give him a warm bath before bedtime or massage his feet gently when putting him to sleep. Stay with him until he falls asleep, cuddle him.

    Reply
  2. shobhika

    The article and the above reply are both very well written. Many times parent just discount their children’s fear leaving them more susceptible to seeing bad dreams.

    Recently, i had a case of a 6 yr. Old who reported seeing bad dreams. In her case , like in so many other areas, Positive Thinking helped. When we say positive words before going off to sleep, it helps calm our mind and assures it that all is good and will be taken care of. The mind can be trained to think positively and see good dreams as a result.

    Reply

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