Why your child is scared at night and how to help

As a parent, I have come to learn about the 3-year-olds fear of the night. It’s not the dark itself that my boy or other children find so terrifying. In his case it’s robots and when I was a child the boogeyman or monster under the bed. Here is the reason why your child is scared at night?

It comes from our nature and evolution, this fear acted as a limiting mechanism against reckless behaviour like running out from the cave into the middle of the night where predators are hunting. It’s an evolutionary advantage we humans have developed over the course of time.

Remember, for a large portion of humanity’s early days, we were far from the top of the food chain. Our ancestors quickly learned that many predators prefer the cover of darkness to hunt and over time that association strengthened into a subconscious absolute: stay out of the dark because that’s where the danger is.

If fear of the night preventing your child from falling asleep or sleeping through the night, consider some of the following recommendations to help him/her get better sleep.

Tips to help you when your child is scared at night

  • Start with trying to understand why your child is scared at night. If he/she is old and can communicate give your child a chance to tell you what makes him / her scared at bedtime. Let it take time, and don’t force it. The fears and nature will be different throughout the development. It is normal for younger children to have difficulty telling the difference between what is real and what is imaginary.  

  • Once you understand the nature of your child’s fear, it is important not to support or build up these fears. For example, like our son who is afraid of robots outside, We don’t tell him they cannot get into our house or if it would have been monsters we will not get a monster repellant spray. These actions tend to make children think that what they imagine is real because you as a parent believe in it as well.

child scared at night
  • A special object may be helpful for your child, this can be like on our case special blanket, it can be a toy or stuffed animal. Keep this in his bed during the night to help him/her to feel more secured at night. Just remember to get two if one should get lost, and a good tip is to alternate them so they smell the same.

The right color for a night-lamp

When picking a night lamp for your kid a dimmable lamp with a soft warm colour is what you should look for. This comes from studies indicating that both bright light and blue light inhibit the production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin will prevent your child from feeling drowsy at bedtime.

This nightlight has many colours, and we use warm yellow/red. Giving a nice glow and doesn’t impact melatonin production.

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