I am sure we all remember how it felt to have the boogeyman hiding under the bed, and to have that green tongued monster peek out at you from the dark cupboard.
We all remember the fear, the anxiety and the paralyzing dread, but we didn’t know at that time that this was very common, and that every other child suffered from night fears.
If your child suffers from such night fears, then here are some tips for you to help you deal with them:
- Encourage your child to talk about her fears; never laugh at her or ridicule her, or even disparage her. As far as she is concerned, her fears are very real, and she is actually afraid of these things in the dark of the night, and she lacks the capacity to judge that they are meaningless fears. You could try saying things like, “I know you are afraid of the monster under your bed, but I know that it can’t hurt you. I am there for you…” Your child must know that you respect her thinking.
- Never avoid talking to your child about her fears, in the mistaken assumption that talking about it will simply bring the fears back. In fact, avoiding it is a bad idea, and your child must learn to face everything in life with courage, and never to run away from them.
- No matter what happens, you must make sure that your child knows about your support for her, whether she is being a coward, or whether she is being rather courageous. Whenever she is afraid of the dark and tells you so, you must go to her, and talk to her. Hug her, hold her, and tell her that it is OK, that the monster will go away soon. Don’t tell her, “Don’t be silly, there is no monster there! Cant you see?”
- Remember, all human beings are created in such a way that they have an internal drive, which would help them overcome fears automatically. This is the reason why your child may obsess about her fears. She may ask incessant questions, she may want to talk about it non-stop. Encourage her, do not stop this obsession, because this is one of the first signs that she is on the way to getting over her fears, rational or irrational as they may be.
- As a parent, you can actually use your child’s fears to teach her a lesson or two about life. You could work out a strategy with your child, which would help her overcome her night fears. For example, make her play ‘hide and seek’ in the dark, so she will know that there is nothing to fear, and that darkness can actually be fun. Teach her to use a flashlight, or a small torch whenever she is afraid, to explore all the corners of the room, and to make sure that there is nothing to be afraid of.
If you are able to arm your child with the self confidence and self assurance to be able to face her fears all by herself, then you are on the way to becoming the parent of a rising star! Keep trying, and don’t give up!