It’s become somewhat of a normality for children between ages 2 to 10 to have a fear of the dark, or sleeping alone. According to child psychologist Dr. Goh Chee Leong, the trigger can either be the TV shows they watch, because most shows portray the night as being the time when bad things happen, or it could be from the parents themselves.
Sometimes adults frighten kids into doing things they’d like them to do, Dr. Goh explained. “Like if they’re taking to long to leave their room, parents suggest they hurry or the ‘hantu’ (ghost) will go after them.”
Dr. Goh also shares some tips for parents who want to help their kids overcome their fear of the dark:
Empathise with your children
They’re already quite shaken up about being alone and the last thing kids need is for parents to yell at them for being irrational. Reassure them that there’s nothing to be worried about; humor them by checking what’s under their bed, shooing away the monster in their closet, anything that will reassure the child that there’s nothing to worry about and that you’re there for them.
Come up with a routine
Create a bedtime ritual – storytelling or playing a game – with your child so that he or she looks forward to going to sleep.
Dr. Goh explains that children react better when there’s consistency and stability. So if you’re going to agree on giving piggyback rides, you best be prepared to do it every night until they’re 10 and not so light! (Not something we’d recommend.)
Make their room a safe place
Often times we decorate a room from the perspective of an adult and not so much for the child. Fill the room with things they love and items that make them feel secure like a soft toy, or posters of their favourite movie or character. Ultimately the bedroom has to be an environment the child can control, if not it will leave them feeling helpless as they’d always seek out to their parents when they need help.
Use a night light
A night light helps because then they know they’re not completely in the dark. Choosing a night light is difficult because parents constantly worry about kids tripping over wires, lamps overheating and causing damage (Dr. Goh recommends using Phillips’ Disney Lighting products). The type of bulb also plays a big part in this equation: yellow lights create a warmer setting, and Dr. Goh says this will help the child sleep better. “White lights can be quite straining to the eyes and trick the mind into staying awake because everything is bright,” he explained.
Text by Rathika Sheila.
Image Credit: Techmog.