7 Yr Old Scared of the Dark

Updated on January 05, 2008
S.S. asks from Omaha, NE
15 answers

My 7 yr old son, has always been a little scared of the dark, so I put a lamp and a night light on, and the TV- with only a blue screen on it for light, but ever since he came home from Christmas break, he has been crying that he is really scared. I know he wants to sleep with me- and have been told not to allow it. He had other kids in his room while he was away for a week, and got used to having someone else in his room. We look under the bed, close the closet, sing lullibyes, rub backs- I don't know what else to do for him. He has seen parts of scary movies while away from me, but never lasts long. Even Ghost stories that he heard nearly a year ago still bother him now. He tells me he knows they are not real, but they still scare him...I am tired of being up til midnight to keep him from sneaking into my room. Help please!

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So What Happened?

We have purchased new night lights, and read Macy the Sleep Fairy, and for the last 2 weeks he seems to be doing fairly well. We shall see if the cycle comes back around. I know my Step daughter said her 10 yr old is still scared of the dark so she lets him sleep with the lights on. Thanks everyone!!

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answers from Grand Rapids on

My son is 7 yrs of age also and he some how has always beens scared of the dark we have fluoresent light bulb in his closet. We've always kept them on all night for him. He does slip into are bed often and we just let him because we know it will blow over soon. So just make him feel safe for a little bit and he will want to be a big boy again. Something triggered that fear, also when he does feel comfortable to go back in his bed tell him that he can have the door open to make him feel even safer.

We usually too, when my son falls asleep we try to put him back into his bed and sometimes he totally forgets that he even was scared.
I hope this helps.

T. H.

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answers from Billings on

My husbands parents used to let their children sleep on the floor in sleeping bags in their room if they got scared. My kids (5,4, and 2) are EXTREMELY imaginative, sensitive, and perceptive. Just hearing other kids talking about scary movies can set them off.

My kids are comforted when I tell them that Jesus is stronger than any monsters. They say the Bible verse, "You are my hiding place" ps.32:7, and "Whenever I am afraid I will trust in you." ps 50:? Sometimes I even go through the room and say out loud, "This house belongs to Jesus and this room is for children to sleep in. Any monsters here have to leave! Go out the window, to your own house." That seems to help them.

I think sleeping on the floor in your room isn't the same as sharing a bed, in terms of healthy boundaries. Good luck!

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answers from Madison on

Do what feels good in your heart. If he were my boy i´d let him sleep with me for a while. Maybe he´s missed you and also that´ll let you sleep more than what you are right now. Don´t make it a permanent situation, but i can´t see what harm it´d do to let him sleep in your bed for a few nights. I sure can remember those nights in childhood when nightmares seemed all too real, and i could always go to my parents bed if i was really scared. A blue tv-screen sounds worse to me than a few nights in mama´s bed.

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answers from Benton Harbor on

Hi S.,

My nephew(who just turned 14)had to have the overhead light on in order to fall asleep, or at least a lamp, and I think even the hall light too. I think in the last year or two he has moved away from having a bright light on at night, but I think he still uses a night light. When his family travels, he prefers to sleep in the same room as his parents(usually in a sleeping bag). He is a tough, athletic kid, but he just doesn't like to be alone at night. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not that uncommon for a 7 yr old to be scared of the dark(my 10 yr old still uses a night light). See if having a lamp (with at least a 50 watt bulb) on at night helps him to feel more comfortable, I know it's not ideal, but if it helps you both get to sleep quicker and easier, then it's worth it. I also know people who let their child have a fun "kids" flashlight(they have some that are shaped like animals and make different sounds) in bed with them, this way they can turn it on if they need to, and it gives them a sense of control. Try to remember that his fear of the dark may really be a fear of being alone, so try to be understanding and supportive of his needs. Ask him to help you come up with ways to make him feel more comfortable(and less scared) in his own room at night. Again, this will help him feel that he has some control over the situation, and will show him that you care about how he is feeling. I hope that I have given you some ideas that help! I know(from experience) how frustrating and tiring it is when your child has sleep difficulties, good luck.



answers from Boise on

A comment about checking for monsters....I can't remember where I heard this but it makes sense: if you check his room for monsters you are validating his ideas about there being monsters in his room. I like the idea of watching Monsters Inc and talking about it afterwards. My three year old is scared of shadows, he thinks they are alive. I made the mistake of playing shadow games with him early on.



answers from Great Falls on

My son is almost 9 and is terrified of the dark. I made the decision to leave his light on. He goes to sleep just fine and stays asleep all night. I also use a mantra to say everynight to keep away any bad dreams and then we pray for people who aren't doing so good. Like Please help his not be afraid of the dark, thunder and lightning or cars and people outside his window. He's slept that way for at least three years. If I don't let him have the light on noises, and dreams keep him up. I figure when he's ready he'll turn the light out on his own. I also gave him a radio that he can play for company of a sort. Good luck.



answers from Waterloo on

what about some sort of stuffed animal that helps keep the bad things away- Or what about keeping the light on for a few nights to have him see everything then when he knows there is nothing to be worried about he can have them off.



answers from Milwaukee on

I am in your same boat, but I just hate the thought of having lights kept on. Our family is really trying hard to do our part in conserving energy. He sleeps with nightlights and sometimes other lights and I would just love to wean him back.
Just today I bought some glow-in-the-dark stars and constellations and stuck them on my sons ceiling.
Maybe those will help you too. (I put them on during the day as a nighttime surprise.)

My husband and I have had, in the past, many sleepless nights-from our boy climbing in bed with us and getting a foot to the lower back, head, arm, leg, whatever.

I feel for you and your child. Fear is a genuine feeling and a hard one for someone else to concur and control.
I wish you both strength.



answers from Provo on

Sounds just like my 8 yo. He has always been a little frightened, even though he shares a room with his little brother. It seems like they go through particular phases where it is worse, then it gets better for a while. We found giving him a flashlight/pushbutton light helped quite a bit, but i think the real clincher for him was when we told him if he stayed in bed for a certain number of nights he would get to "campout" upstairs (which is where our room is), and we just gradually made the required # of nights longer and longer. Also, if that doesn't work, when he was younger, we would let him sleep on our floor for a few days, then move him a little farther away with a couple day transition each time until he could go to his bed. Hope something in there helps, best of luck



answers from Provo on

My 8 year old has been afraid of the dark for the past couple of years because of a movie he saw at school about monsters in the closet. We let him sleep on our floor a few nights--to avoid him getting into bed with us--but that became a habit as well. We didn't sleep well, and he didn't either. So we tried a "bravery chart." He got to choose the reward (an alarm clock (?) and pokemon cards are what he chose) and we decided the time period. So the first time he had to stay in bed for 14 nights in a row. We never actually made the chart, but he kept close track of how many nights he had been brave. That got him into the habit of staying in bed, so he did pretty well for a while. He started getting really scared and having nightmares again a few months later, so we did a month-long bravery chart this time. Since then he has had nights where he can't fall asleep because he gets scared, so we turn on music for him. But the bravery charts seemed to convince him that he could be brave. We just need to remind him every once in a while. I hope this helps because I know how stressful the sleepless nights can be. Good luck!



answers from Waterloo on

I gave my 6 1/2 year old a flashlight to hold onto while he falls asleep. That way if he thinks he "sees" something scary he can shine his light on it and see that there's nothing there.



answers from Sioux City on

I'm not sure if this is much help for there is a big age difference. Also he might be too grown up to believe it. LOL

I have a 3yr old the same way. I found something that really works! He has a big teddy bear that we keep at the end of his bed. Every night we have the "teddy bear talk" I hold up the teddy bear and have one hand controlling the back of it's head for head movements. I ask, "Teddy Bear, will you keep all the monsters away?" Then I knod it's head yes. Then I ask if there are any monsters in the room and he knods yes. Yes, that is not a typo... he says yes. I ask the teddy where and then I turn his head towards one of many things. Our favorite is the closet. I take the teddy to the closet and open it up and there sits a doodle monster. (Like a doodle bear but for boys and it looks like a monster) I make the teddy bear attack it and at the same time I yell, "silly teddy!" Other times we pretend the teddy thinks my son's older brother (age 8 who also has the issue at times) is the monster or even mommy. It stikes alot of laughter in the room. Then after teddy settles down I ask if monsters are real. I shake teddy's head no. Then I ask teddy if he is going to stay up all night to make sure there are not any monsters. Then I shake teddy's head yes. You can use other toys but try to use a strong figure such a big animals. Like I said this may not work with an older child but my 3yr old and 8yr old love it!



answers from Lansing on

My son was like this for years about thunder storms. When he got so big it was hard to have him in bed with us, we put a sleeping bag on the floor and asked him not to wake us but just come in when he was scared. He is 10, and every once in awhile during a storm he will come in, but most of the time the bag is unused. Maybe this will work for you--at least both of you can get some sleep!




answers from Salt Lake City on

I liked 'Monsters Inc' for just this kind of reason. Maybe some discussion of what his monsters are and why they won't be around during the night would help. He is old enough to discuss it and there is something bothering him, maybe talking about it would help.

Personally I still have nightmares but I made a quilt with some monsters on it to remind me that they aren't going to 'get me' in my sleep, and to protect me. (I'm not a kid but it helps.)



answers from Des Moines on

My daughter (4 years) was also scared of the dark and constantly got out of bed and wouldn't go to sleep because she had to have her room light on. My husband works nights, so I had to deal with this evey night. I ended up keeping the hall light on for her all night. And, I told her that if she stayed in bed all night that Tinkerbell comes to visit her every night. Tinkerbell can ony visit kids that stay in bed,are asleep and have their room lights off. Apparently, lights make Tinkerbell fly into the wall and she can only see in the dark:). She leaves "fairy dust" (glitter) around her room and sometimes (maybe once a month) leaves a small gift behind (lipbalm, balloon, etc). She has now stayed in bed (without her room light being on all night) for almost 6 months now. I think the key was finding something my daughter was really interested in and being creative with it to find a solution that fit her needs and imagination. I know you have a boy and he's older, so I am not sure if this will work. But, it never hurts to try a creative approach. Last, I don't know if you let him watch TV before bed, but somtimes what seems innocent to us adults can scare kids since they haven't fully developed reason skills yet. Just a thought...good luck, I hope you find something that works

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