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Mummy, the dark scares me!

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Has your older toddler started to become scared of the dark and is becoming a little bit wary of it? Around the age of two, toddlers’ imaginations really start to kick in. Whilst it is an exciting time it also means they’re beginning to grasp that there are things in the world that might scare them or cause them harm—like a film or book that left them feeling a little uneasy. It’s funny how even the most colourful, cheery characters from children’s shows like Timmy Time, Peter Rabbit, Mickey mouse Funhouse, or Peppa Pig can sometimes freak them out and play on their minds.

I recall my son being about 3 years old when he first mentioned he feared the dark. When I asked what he was scared of in the dark, he simply said that he could not see where he was going. Turns out the dark just became an inconvenience.

As grown-ups, we understand that darkness isn’t automatically threatening, but for toddlers, it’s a new and unfamiliar territory they’re just beginning to navigate. Therefore, if your little one expresses fear of the dark, it’s important not to dismiss it casually. Take a moment to engage with them about it. Demonstrating that you’re taking their fears seriously can offer significant comfort, while also helping you grasp the source of their anxiety so you can address it effectively.

For instance, if they mention seeing movement in their room, it could simply be car lights passing by or the gentle sway of curtains in the breeze. In such cases, upgrading to better blackout blinds might alleviate their concerns. Additionally, spending time lying in their room in darkness can provide insight into their perspective and help identify anything that might be unsettling like a hanging dressing gown on the back of a door. Providing a night light or a soft bedside flashlight for exploring shadows can also be helpful, but opt for warm-toned light sources to avoid disrupting their sleep with blue light.

While it might be tempting to use tactics like “Monster Spray” to reassure them, be cautious not to inadvertently exacerbate their fears by suggesting the presence of monsters. It’s perfectly fine to reassure them that there are no monsters hiding in their closet or under their bed, but avoid implying the need to check for them.

For many toddlers, bedtime marks the moment they’re truly alone in the dark, which can understandably trigger anxiety. To alleviate their worries, why not transform it into a fun adventure? Spend quality time together in the dark by reading stories under a blanket with a dim flashlight, playing games like hide and seek with the lights off, or creating playful shadow puppets. While this may not resolve everything immediately, once your little one realizes that darkness can be less intimidating and more enjoyable, you’ll likely notice fewer disruptions at bedtime and more peaceful sleep.

If your little one is suffereing with night terrors or nightmares, please do have a read of my blog ‘Is it a nightmare or a night terror?” to help you deal with these instances and understand them better. 

And remember, if you’re ever struggling with your child’s sleep, don’t hesitate to reach out for a complimentary 15-minute consultation. I’m here to offer support!

If your little one is struggling with a fear of the dark and bedtime is becoming a struggle and sleep disrupted, please get in touch  and book a free, no obligation call and we can talk about working together to get you a better night’s sleep.

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