Afraid of the Dark

Is this just something kids her age (26 mos) go through?

I don’t think we’ve ever pretended or suggested that the dark is scary. Yet lately, my daughter has been afraid of the dark.

It started with just having to have the night light on her sound machine at bedtime. It is on a timer, so it goes off after a while. But even with it on, when we turn off the table lamp, which is already on the lowest setting, so it isn’t a big difference, my daughter tells us, “don’t want dark!”

Fortunately, once the light goes off, she is fine for the night – probably because she is asleep. We have a very dim nightlight that we’ve always had in there. It is one of those green glowing things you plug in the outlet. It doesn’t do more than allow us a little tiny bit of light if we need to go in there at night.

We don’t want any more than that. Ms. Kaz read that it isn’t good for kids to have a light on all night (Brazelton??), and we don’t want her to become dependant on something like that. Especially if we are on a trip and we have to sleep in the same room as her.

afraid_of_the_darkNow, the last couple of days, at night or in the morning, she’s started doing a few new things. The first is to point out that it is dark outside. Sometimes, she’ll follow this with, “have to go inside,” alluding to a time I took her out at dusk to look at geese flying overhead and she started saying, “dark outside. have to go inside.”

The other thing is her refusal to go in a room which doesn’t have a light on. She’ll tell us, “no wanna go in there. it’s dark in there.”

Like I said, we’ve done nothing to encourage, suggest, even pretend about being afraid of the dark. Mostly for fear something like this would happen.

It isn’t really annoying or wrong. I just wonder where she picked it up from. Is it normal for kids to just develop fears like this?

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6 Responses to Afraid of the Dark

  1. Rob says:

    How do fears, in general, develop? I really have no idea. Perhaps you could try a ‘group’ activity of going out at night to look at the stars and say how pretty they are?

    [Kaz: That's not a bad idea. She liked to look out the window at the moon. And, I'm not sure why, but she remembers her trip to NYC because of all the stars. Funny, I thought we'd see more stars up here in Connecticut than in the city...]

  2. T. Carter says:

    My wife thinks it’s part of a mental development phase and fear/phobia response is part of adjusting to the realization that at that age you’re kind of small and powerless. My 25-month-old doesn’t seem to have any fear of the dark issues right now, but she has become terrified of cars, particularly moving cars, all of the sudden. She is fine looking at cars through the window, but if we’re out at the park and she sees one stop to let us cross the street, she jumps back away from the road and sometimes will start to cry and want to be carried. At the very least, she says “Uh-oh, car coming.”

    [Kaz: well, I guess if you're going to be scared of something at that age, (moving) cars might be a good thing to be afraid of! My daughter learned early on, "don't go in road. cars. get hurt. mommy, daddy be sad."]

  3. Rengirl says:

    I was wondering this myself. My daughter is afraid of my yoga ball. If it’s in the room, she’ll keep a suspicious eye on it the whole time. If it rolls near her, she cries dramatically and starts clawing at our ankles to be picked up. I have no idea how she developed this fear. I sat on the ball to show her it was harmless but it still freaks her out.

    [Kaz: Thanks for stopping by, Rengirl! It does make you wonder about kids' brains. My daughter amazes me with how much her speech progresses, even overnight. Then, they'll turn around and puzzle you with something like this...]

  4. Henitsirk says:

    I think kids process fears at different times and in different ways. My 4 year old son just recently started saying he was afraid of monsters and mean witches. My 2 year old daughter shows no sign of any fears yet.

    I think they’re working out learning to be independent individuals, and growing up is a bit intimidating sometimes. So their minds translate (transference?) this into fear of scary things in the outside world.

    I tell my kids that some people think the dark is scary because they can’t see what might be out there, but that the dark is really a good thing. That’s when the bats and the fireflies come out, after all!

  5. marie says:

    im doing a project on being afraid of the dark which im also afraid of the dark and its very interesting to me and reading these is a very good thing for me it helps alot

  6. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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