When Your Child Is Scared to Sleep Alone
It is not uncommon for a child to be scared of sleeping alone. In many cases this arises from fear of the dark. The imagination of children especially those aged between 3 and 6 is especially fertile in creating imaginary threats such as monsters or ghosts, and the threat is most commonly experienced when it is also dark.Fear of the dark
Many children have imagined that if they get out of bed somebody or some thing will grab them by the ankles and drag them down. They feel the need of a parent to protect them through the night.
Children are not born with a fear of the dark. It does not normally appear until the child is 2 or 3. As they explore more and more of the world they discover that the world has dangers and it doesn’t take much for a child to fill the world with lots of dangers, both real and imagined.
For parents with children aged 2 to 6 such fears are not particularly something which should be worried about. For many children this is just a passing phase. Even so it is an issue which has to be dealt with as it is impractical for a parent to spend time every night with the child to ensure that the child goes to sleep. It is an issue which should not be avoided or dismissed.
For most children trying to persuade them that their fears are groundless is a waste of time. The child is unlikely to listen to reason. The child will take these fears very seriously. Instead the child has to unlearn the fears they have through experience.
Many parents play games with their children to encourage them to develop the courage both to go to sleep without a parent present and without the light on. Before the child goes to bed the child and the parent can both search the child’s bedroom, under the bed, in the closet, to make sure there are no scary monsters hiding.
Thereafter some parents play a game of rewards with the child. One approach is that the parent can agree to sit on a chair inside the child’s bedroom a few feet away but without the light on. If the child can cope with that then the child gets a reward.
Next the parent offers a reward if the child can deal with the parent sitting outside the room but visible in the open doorway. If that works then the parent can move to the next stage of sitting near the door of the child’s bedroom, but out of sight. Again the child is offered a reward if this works.
This may not work for all children. There may be other games which a parent can play, in which the parent acclimatizes the child to ever greater absences from the bedroom. However to add some reward into the process often works.More serious anxiety issues
While most children learn how not to be afraid of the dark and to sleep alone without worry, it becomes more of a problem for parents if the anxiety about sleeping alone persists and persists. In those circumstances the parents may need to seek guidance and assistance from others experienced in these problems.
Some parents have found the Anxiety-Free Child program to be of use in dealing with a whole range of fears and anxieties experienced by children. It may be able to help you when your child is too scared to sleep alone.