Afraid of the Dark - Cincinnati,OH

Updated on December 12, 2014
L.J. asks from Cincinnati, OH
17 answers

My son is almost three andhe will not fall asleep unless his bedroom light is on-no biggie, once he is asleep, I turn it off. BUT if he wakes up in the middle of the night he screams if BOTH his bedroom light is off AND the hallway light.

Once upon a time he had a little night light (cat knocked it down and broke it) and he would go to sleep with the light off but I'd say for the past 6 months or so he has been like this. Part of this is my fault. I would leave the hall way light on when I was nursing my daughter, so I could see and not go bump in the night. But now it's so much a part of his routine that it's been hard to get away from that.

Any suggestions or things I can do so we can have the lights off at night? A simple night light won't cut it. I've tried. When we were at my parents for the weekend, I tried turning on both side lamps in his room-now he wouldn't go to sleep without the bedroom light on and wanted the other lights turned off. BUT I did not try turning on the lamps and then turning his bedroom light off once he was asleep.

My husband was thinking of getting string lights (like you use on a Christmas Tree) around his bedroom but I don't know if that will be enough or not.

Welcome to all thoughts and suggestions.

*Serious Suggestions*

I really don't mind either way, but it's my husband who thinks we should be moving on from leaving the lights on. I understand all about picking the battles and there have been quite a few that I let go, but my husband doesn't quite grasp the "picking the battles" thing. He works nights so I'm the one with the kids the most.

And yes, sleep is a beautiful thing.

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answers from Washington DC on

he's so little. why not let him adjust at his own pace?
poor little guy.
i think the christmas lights sound great. i'd also take him out and help him pick out a few more lights to have on at night in his room.
my boys never had dark terrors, but they LOVED lights. they had lava lamps, black lights, circulating shapey lights, disco balls..........
my younger, now 23, still has 'cool lights' in his room.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

I see nothing wrong with needing a little light while sleeping, I like it myself. Take him to pick out a new night light and be done with it.


3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Danville on

For my special needs daughter, I got a pillow (hers is a unicorn) and it has a button you can push, and it displays stars/moon and a unicorn on the ceiling. It shuts off automatically, but if she wakes, she can turn it on.

I cannot remember the brand, but I got it in walmart. It might give him a sense of control over the lighting. I also like the idea of x mas lights.

Sleep IS a wonderful thing!


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Kiddo is seven and hates having it completely dark; we found that a string of fun lights (I bought some sparkly white owl lights) and the hall light work great.

I'd also say this: there are different moments in a child's development where we expect our kids to conform to our needs instead of having their own preference. This is a situation I would not make my hill to die on if I were your husband. The lights on is a small thing in the grand scheme of parenting. Just because your husband feels comfortable in the dark doesn't mean other people do. I think you received a lot of answers attesting to that fact. There will be a LOT of things in life where our kids are just going to have to suck it up and do what's asked-- I don't think, though, that *how* a child comfortably goes to sleep should be one of those moments. Give him time. I still like a low light on too in our attic bedroom-- don't want to trip down our stairs and break my neck fumbling for the lightswitch. Just something to think about-- a sense of security and comfort. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Is it really that big a deal to just leave the lights on?

You could always replace the bulbs with fluorescent, to save on energy. You could also replace the bulbs with a lower wattage.

I'm just not sure this is a fight worth fighting. Sometimes you just have to step back and indulge these little things. If you leave the lights on he sleeps, right? Well, sleep is pretty important for all of you, so I'd just leave the light on.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Replace the night light. Give him a flashlight. Fisher Price makes them.

We used stick on stars on our daughters ceiling, she loved them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

Don't worry about moving toward lights off. I am 39 and I still sleep with a night light. I like to see my surroundings at night.
As for lighting, if you have an Ikea near you, they have some wonderful options for low light fixtures and lighting. We have the FinFin string lights for my daughter's room. And the Spoka (which I highly recommend). Take your son with you and let him help you choose. You can also find some products are available via Amazon or Ikea's website.
Hope this helps!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Just leave the light on.
Never mind the troll who suggests drugging your kid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Oh gosh, he's only not even three years old! Of course he wants a little light at night! Heck, I like night lights in the halls at night, otherwise it's hard to walk around!

I think the christmas lights are a good idea as it will create a "glow" throughout the room without the harsh brightness of a full light bulb. I think its important to have one setting only. Choose that setting and leave it that way all night. If he goes to sleep in brightness but wakes up in darkness, it will disorient him and that scares him. Have him get used to the new dimmed christmas light setting as you read him a story every night (use a flashlight to read if you have to) and have him go to sleep in that setting. If he wakes up, nothing will be different, so it won't be so shocking to his little brain.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would combine the suggestions - get a new night light that he picks out; get him a flashlight in case he wakes up and decides the night light is not bright enough and put those stars on his ceiling. My GD had them on her ceiling and she really liked it. I think with all three, he should be just fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

We have christmas lights in my sons room. The main light is too harsh and can effect sleep, so I would work on getting that off.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I refused to agree that my boys were afraid of the dark. "Mommy, I'm scared of the dark! I need the door open!"

No, you aren't. Close your eyes and go to sleep.

My refusal to play along meant that the "afraid of the dark" stage lasted two nights. They never mentioned it again.

Lights out, door closed, no night lights, string lights, flashlights, nothing. We had and still have a nightlight in the hallway and the bathroom so we could see to use the toilet, that's it.

I believe that giving in to the "I'm afraid of the dark, leave all the lights on!" protests only validates that his fears are real. Same with "monster spray." Let's not validate irrational fears. The dark is lovely. At the very most, I'd put a night light in to avoid stubbed toes on the way to the bathroom. I suggest the blue or green LED type. I wouldn't put up string lights or leave on a lamp or hallway light. That's too much. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

My daughter slept with a floor lamp that has what I call spider arms with lights on the end of them. There are 5 or 6 arms and I put light bulbs in 3. That gave her all of the light she needed. Now she has to sleep with her room totally dark and with the door closed. It shouldn't worry you. He will outgrow it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

There are so many cool night light options.....personally, I love the lava looking one, in blue for my son's room. It's very relaxing to watch while drifting off to sleep and blue doesn't typically cause sleep disturbance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

My 9 YO still sleeps with a light on. It is a smaller lamp and the light is a little dimmer than the main light, however, it is still a light.

She has slept with a night mask and the light on, which didn't make any sense, but she did it.

She always wakes up and crawls in our bed and likes someone to lay in her room until she falls asleep, which I can't and wont always do.

Lately, I have been doing a monster check before she goes to sleep. I really don't know what she is afraid of, but she is afraid of something.

She says she likes the monster check, but still ends up in our bed...often.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I don't think it should matter if the lights are off or on...we leave some lights on during the nighttime so we can see if we need to get up in an emergency.



answers from Los Angeles on

It's a stage w/age about being scared of the dark. It's at a different age
for each child. You do what works best for YOUR child.
I'm with provide some kind of light for your child that works
FOR HIM. I know these stages can be a pain but I'm still afraid of
sharks after Jaws, afraid of the dark after "Amityville Horror" etc.
Use nightlights, lamps in his room on low, use dim bulbs, put a dimmer
switch on the wall for his ceiling light etc.
String up those Christmas lights if you want as long as they are safe (keep his door open so you can detect a problem like fire).
Provide him with the safety net he requires (light for fear of dark) & this
stage will pass.
What you do is try diff options until you find the right one for "him".
What about a "Dreamlight" pillow? It's a cute stuffed pet that lies flat &
projects lights onto the ceiling. So cute & can be effective.
Remember something (& tell your hubby), his fears are real to him & deserve to be addressed.
When I was scared once when I was younger, my dad put 2 nightlights in
my room, left the door open & made sure my curtains were dark
enough to keep out the moonlight (shadows outside).

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