I heard her call out my name…again. I knew why she was beckoning me…it was the exact same reason she’d cried out every night this week. She was afraid. The darkness of night frightened her tender heart. I quickly went upstairs in order to comfort her and reassure her that she was safe and I was close by. However, I knew that these truths would be soon forgotten after I left the room again. A new strategy was necessary. A new plan. This is How I Got My Kids To NOT Be Afraid Of The Dark.
It seems that all three of my kids have experienced fear of the darkness. My youngest, though, had it the worst. In fact, she still walks very quickly to my bed in the middle of the night once in a while. She is ten;) PS – I don’t mind her middle of the night snuggles! I love them!
Why Are They Afraid?
Before I get into how I helped each of my kids overcome their fear of the dark, I want to discuss why they are afraid. At least this is what I have found with my kids.
All three of my kids have crazy imaginations. I’ve asked them to tell me exactly what the are afraid of. If I don’t know what precisely scares them, then it makes it harder for me to help them. Sometimes, it was the typical monster in the closet fear or there was something under the bed that will grab them.
My youngest has the most powerful imagination. She was afraid of so many things. Discovering spider crawling on her would be terrifying. Seeing a bear coming into the house was a scary thought. A tiger jumping out from under her bed was not enjoyable to think about. Other times, her dreams were so intense that she would wake up afraid and cry out for me.
For example, one night she had a dream that a bear came out of a small prune plum. This terrified her (but it was funny and she laughs about it now). I think that the more intense of an imagination, the more intense the fear and bad dreams will be. This little girl of mine has been writing a novel with the goal of over 20,000 words…she is ten. Her imagination is amazing.
Deal With It
When we know exactly what we are dealing with when it comes to their fear, we can talk about it and reassure much more easily.
My daughter and I discussed the reality of a bear coming out of a plum or breaking into our home. We discussed where tigers live – after I found out what kind of tiger was in her imagination;). We talked about spiders when they come into the house and the chance of them crawling on her – and what would happen if one did (nothing).
Lead Them To Jesus
I didn’t use ‘monster spray’. I didn’t ‘fight’ monsters out of the closet or from under the bed. Telling my kids to ‘suck it up’ was not an option. I didn’t shame them by saying they were being ridiculous.
Something that had much more promise of working was what I was aiming for.
I’ve always discussed spiritual truths with my kids with the expectation that they would understand whatever the Holy Spirit would teach them. We started with talking about how we can let Jesus be the boss of what we think about.
We talked about what we ought to think about (Philippians 4:8). Yes, young children can understand these concepts – just word it differently.
The Power Of God’s Word
Following this discussion, I introduced scripture verses about not being afraid. I wrote several on index cards and taped them above the head of their beds. I told them that when they felt afraid, they can remember these verses (they were simple enough to memorize – or remember the basic idea of the verse). There was just something about having God’s word covering them at night.
The finishing touch of our discussion was prayer. We prayed against bad dreams and asked God for good dreams. We prayed against fear and asked Jesus to bring comfort and peace.
Did this solve everything right away? No. There were still times of fear, but our kids always knew that we would be there when they needed us. They weren’t alone in struggling with their fear. We would be there to help them. And the biggest reason why this method eventually worked for our kids is because it pointed them to Jesus. Not a spray bottle. Not a toy sword. But Jesus.
I want my kids to place their faith and trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Not pretend ‘monster spray’ or fake monster fighting.
They started to learn that when they faced troubles, the first thing to do was to turn to their Saviour.
There are some extra things you can do to help your child work through their fear. Get several night lights and place one in their room and in the halls and in the bathroom. We would have one in our room as well.
Give them a small flashlight to have beside their beds. They can turn it on when they feel afraid.
My kids knew they were always welcome in our bedroom if they were afraid during the night. We had a mattress on the floor beside our bed. They would quietly come in during the night and snuggle up near us on the mattress. This was also helpful when they were sick and when my oldest would get crazy growing pains in the night.
My youngest preferred to snuggle in bed with me. She just felt more safe and secure and I was just fine with her in bed with me. She still comes to my bed at night for cuddles, not because she is scared, but because her love language is touch and she feels very loved and cared for when she snuggles.
And, well, if I am truly honest…I still don’t like to hang my feet over the edge of my bed. Did I mention that those with strong imaginations tend to have stronger fears in the dark??
I have made a free printable for you to download and print. It is a sampling of some of the verses I used with my kids. Print on either card stock or regular paper.
I made these printable scripture verses for my post How I Got My Kids to Not Be Afraid of the Dark. These are examples of the verses I used for my kids.
Do you have kids who are afraid of the dark? How did you handle it?