How do you help a 2 yr old to not be scared to death of the dark?

Marie - posted on 09/09/2009 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My husband and I have never had a problem with our 2 yr old sleeping, until now! He is scared to death of going to bed and the dark. As it gets dusk, we have to make sure the house lights are on. If a room is dark he will not go into the room. And then there is bedtime.....we have his toddler bed, two lamps and window blind is closed (otherwise he will point outside and declare the darkness). He will go through his normal bedtime routine, we put him in bed, room lit up with both lamps, and his music box on. Two minutes out of the door and he is screaming the most fearful scream, thrashing himself and shaking. We usually can get him calmed down and he works himself up so much he is exhausted. But then here comes the middle of the night if he wakes, and the whole thing starts over. Although at this time there is no calming down without waking the entire house. (we also have a 10 month old in the room next to my 2 yr old son) So unfortunately, he ends up in our bed around 3 or 4 am. I have a total of 4 boys, and I never allowed a child to sleep with us...but his anxiety breaks our heart. Has anyone ever dealt with the fear of the dark and what did you do to overcome this awful fear???

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Sarah - posted on 09/09/2009

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My son loves being in the dark so i cant say anything from experience but my son has a nite light and a disney lullabys CD i put on at night.

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Marie - posted on 09/10/2009

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Thank you for all of the comments. It is nice to know that I am not alone in this struggle. Whenever I ask him what scares him he says dark and points outside...we have two full lights on in his room, last night I let him listen to a soothing CD while going to sleep. Needless to say he cried/screamed out three times before finally falling asleep from utter exhaustion. We have tried laying down with him until he falls asleep, we have the lights, music to drowned out noise, everything I can think of. I guess that is why I am asking for advice/help on the ideas. The thing that saddens me the most is when the lights are on in his room and he is screaming out...he is also thrashing, shaking, and sometimes bites his fingers. The anxiety in this precious little boy is tremendous, and I don't know where to turn. Last night, he was in our bed at 1:30. I have set up my pack-n-play next to my bed and explained that if he has to sleep in our room he will have to sleep in the pack-n-play with our closet light on. We will see how that goes tonight?!

Lynlee - posted on 09/09/2009

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Our son started being scared of the dark a couple of months ago. He's nearly three and had a small nightlight which didn't illuminate his room much. I bought a brighter nightlight that gets dimmer as it gets lighter. I placed it to the side of his drawers to that most of the light is shielded but it lights the room so that if he wakes in the night he can see around him. He has slept well since we installed it.

Lori - posted on 09/09/2009

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My daughter is afraid also. I dont' fight it. If she wants to fall asleep with her lamp on I let her. And I'll keep it on all night if she prefers. I'm afraid if I try to shut it back off it will freak her out and if she wants help walking into a room that's too dark I dont' make her go alone. I take her and show her how it isn't scary and nothing is in there to hurt her, but I also don't make too big a deal of it. She's now back to just a tiny night light and has never had a huge huge fear. Good luck!

Kayla - posted on 09/09/2009

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My son just recently turned 4,...for months i could not figure out why he was so afraid of his room at night. Well I live in an apartment and he just recently told me there are monsters that cry at night and it scares him. Well there is a little girl downstairs who's room just happens to be right below his and she does seem to scream at night alot. I told him it was just the little girl downstairs and finally he understood. So now as long as his closet is closed and he has a night light he is fine. He also thinks the monsters are coming from the closet not unusual. I really wish i could help but really would need to know what is scaring him so much. I think if you could figure out what is scaring him and show him there is no need to be scared it could help.

Marie - posted on 09/09/2009

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Thank you Ani, we originally had him rooming with his younger brother. His terror screams were keeping our 10 mo. son up and so with mom and dad getting very little sleep, and both of our youngest sons with no sleep I was having a hard time even functioning. Separating has helped the baby, but not my 2 yr old. Not quite sure what caused the whole thing, maybe a storm because he is very alert and by my side when he hears thunder....
I am just lost...and all that I have read says that the anxiety part can lead to issues with fear and anxiety later in life if not handled in a sensitive way!

Ani - posted on 09/09/2009

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i have absolutely no experience in this field, but hey, it's worth a try! what if you put him in the same room as one of his brothers? or perhaps make a fun event over a weekend and set up "camp" in his room. you could sleep with him and show him that it's okay. another thing: have you perhaps any idea as to why he may be scared? maybe something he's seen on tv or that his brothers might have said? good luck!

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