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What Age Should a Child Stop Being Afraid of the Dark

child scared of dark

There is no specific age when children start and stop being afraid of the dark. My daughter did not go through any stage in her life (she’s now 17) of fearing the dark, in fact, she always asked for her bedroom light to be turned off so that she could sleep in complete darkness.

Some children suddenly become afraid of sleeping in darkness. This could be triggered by a scary movie they watched, or their imagination running wild.

There are adults out there who are scared of the dark, it’s not something that’s exclusive to children. I’m sure you can think of a family member or friend who believes in ghosts. 

It’s not unreasonable to be scared when you’re awoken by a bump in a dark house, at any age – not being able to see can have you thinking “who, or what is there?”. Young children with energised imaginations can find darkness particularly intimidating.

It’s human nature to be afraid of the dark. Kids are especially vulnerable to nighttime terrors and spectral worries. When it comes to them, how can we remove the fear?

There’s no electricity. In blackness. A lack of awareness of one’s immediate surroundings. Alone. And what was that? Turn that light back on ASAP! Everyone is familiar with the uneasy feeling of total darkness closing in around them. Humans have simply become accustomed to seeing. Some of us experience anxiety due to our fear of the unknown.

Related: When Does Child Sleep Regression Start and End?

When Do Children Commonly Become Afraid of the Dark?

As I said, some children grow into adults without ever experiencing a severe fear of the dark, certainly, nothing that would put them off falling asleep.

For others, when kids reach 2 – 3 and they become aware of their surroundings, they can start to develop an intense fear of a dark room. 

Over the course of our lives, we have learned to overcome this irrational fear and that there is initially no real danger in the darkness. Every child must go through this important learning process. Children begin to perceive darkness as threatening around the age of three.

The so-called magical phase begins to influence children’s thinking at this age, and children begin to believe in mythical creatures, magic and sorcery – and in monsters. 

Because the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred, children’s fear of ghosts and other evil monsters is all too real. This fact naturally increases one’s fear of the dark. 

You can try to reassure your child that there are no monsters by explaining this fact to them, but it’s unlikely to help. Children want to know that their concerns are being heard and understood. So become his partner in both the real and fantasy worlds. That is, even if it requires extra effort, play along. Join me on a monster hunt!

  1. Before going to bed, take a walk around the room. Check especially under the bed! Don’t forget about the cabinets!
  2. You can work together to set up a trap for the monster if it sneaks into the room at night.
  3. Spreading invisible monster-repellent powder around the bed is another good security measure.
  4. Anti-Monster Spray is unquestionably effective! It consistently scares away all horror figures. You can make it yourself using an empty spray bottle, water (and optionally some soothing lavender oil), coloured pens, and stickers. 
  5. No more nighttime terrors: fixed rituals provide security! Create a safe environment for your child to help them overcome their fear. This could be a baby monitor with a built-in night light, a cute solo night light, a star night light projector, or even a lamp with a low-watt bulb.

Related: Child Having Nightmares after Starting School

No use trying to kid ourselves, phobias will always be a problem. They appear for a short time and then disappear (‘It’s all a phase!’). The bright side is that a child always emerges from adversity stronger than before. Being comfortable around strangers is an early example of your child’s ability to overcome fears on its own, a crucial developmental step.