How to Help My 7 Year Old Daughter Get over Being Afraid of the Dark.

Updated on January 12, 2011
J.K. asks from Mansfield, OH
11 answers

My daughter is 7 and terrified of the dark. She sleeps with a lava lamp on but it is not even sleeping. In the winter it is dark at 5. She will not go into any room in our house (even to step half in to turn the light on) when it is dark. She asks her little sister to go turn on the bedroom light,bathroom light, go downstairs with her,whatever. Her sister is only 5. She hasn't given me any reasons she is afriad- like monsters under the bed or in the closet. It isnt about bad dreams or anything like that-just the dark. It is very frustrating when in the middle of the night she screams at the top of her lungs for me to come walk through the hall (about 5 steps) to the bathroom. We keep the bathroom light on for her but she will not get out of bed alone. EVER. She sometimes wakes up my youngest to go with her. Seems crazy to me. Tonight she got sent to her room for something and she stood in the hall screaming because she couldn't go in there. I understand her fear is real- but it seems totally irrational. None of my kids have been afraid of the dark except her. If she would or could tell me what is so scary than maybe I could help her but she doesn't. I am frustrated. My girls share a bedroom and my youngest hates sleeping with the light on (lava lamp or small bed light) and the door open but we have to for the older daughter. Help!

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answers from Milwaukee on

Is there another bedroom in the house? My little girl was scared of the dark when she was younger. We switched bedrooms with her older brother, had her help us paint her room to a color she liked and then painted designs like stars and planets on her walls with glow in the dark paint. We also have a fan in her room for background noise. Now she sleeps in there with no problem. We have a nightlight on in the bathroom but thats it. Maybe this will work for you too.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'm 28 and I still have an irrational fear of the dark. If I turn the lights off in the basement I will run up the stairs because there is a fear in the back of my head that if I don't get into the light something will get me. I know that it's silly and unfounded but it's a fear none the less. Now, I'm 28 and I know that this fear is silly but at 8 all your daughter knows is the pure fear of the dark. She may not even understand it herself. What you need to do is give her tools to combat this fear. As a previous poster said giver her a flashlight that she can use when going into a dark room. Make sure there are plenty of night lights one in each room would be great they make them with sensors so that they will only be on at night or you can get the LED style and they will last a long time and use very little energy. Talk to her about the fear, acknowledge it and discuss ideas with her on how to handle her fear. Get her interested in all the wonderful things that happen in the dark, the animals that live in the dark, the stars, the moon, anything that will peek her interest and take the fear out of the dark. What ever you do, do not make her feel bad about having this fear. Don't tell her that it's silly or stupid or that she is to old to be afraid of the dark. She needs your support and making her feel bad about it will only make it worse.

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answers from Dallas on

I was the same way when I was a kid. I would be so terrified of the night. Darkness made me uneasy to the point that I was also afraid of going to the bathroom alone, like your daughter. To his day I have no idea why I was so scared, but to be honest with you I am a little like that to this day. So much so that I have two of those small lights at home, one in the hallway and one in my daughter's room because every time she got up at night (for her feedings, teething, etc) I would freak out a little because of the darkness of the room. It might sound crazy but it's just part of me I guess. I just don't like darkness. All I can say is that it does get better though.
What I thought it could help me back when I was a kid was having like a pet sleep with me, like on the side of the bed, maybe having a cat or a little dog, but I never really got one, so I am not sure if it could help.

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answers from Honolulu on

At various ages.... starting from about 2 years old, kids get 'fears'.... and of the dark....
Fears... in children, do not make sense, to us, adults. Its the nature of it.

My kids are the same way.
My daughter is 8.... and she and her friends (per their Moms), also get, still.... afraid of the dark... and want "company" if going somewhere in the house at night when the lights are not 'on' there.

Give your daughter a flashlight to keep in bed with her... AND to use.... when she has to get up.
And use night-lights.
That is what we do.

I also tell my daughter, her Grandpa up in Heaven, is protecting her....

When I was that age and older.... I was scared of the dark. I would.... make my bed with the sheets all wrapped tight around me except for my face poking out... and I would stay as STILL as I could... so that the 'monsters' wouldn't notice me. (my sister and Mom thought I was nuts). For me, it was 'real.' And I would try SO hard, to not have to get up to go pee.... at night.... in the dark scary night. And any night 'noises' got me scared too, or shadows.

all the best,

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answers from Chicago on

My older son was affraid of the dark.... He is 13 now... still a bit uneasy about dark but much better....I just let him outgrow that.

My idiot husband locked him once in a basement when he was about 7 or 8 to "help" him to get over the fear when I was not home. The poor child was very scared and when I found out I was beyoud mad! So please, do not do anything like that - it will make the fear worse... hopefully she will outgrow it... just let her keep a dimmer lamp if it bothers her sister. Or you can put a partition between their beds so the other girl is not bothered by light.

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answers from Cleveland on

i see i'm not the only one, but i'm 29 and still irrationally afraid of the dark. the only thing is i am old enough to know my fears are irrational, so i can survive, but i leave the bathroom light on (for the kids, wink wink) sleep with my door open, and if I am home alone and the power goes out it takes all the willpower i have not to curl up in a corner terrified.
from experience I would teach her how to live with her fear, get her a flashlight, so she can function on her own, giving her power over her fear and the ability to be independent and control it, could go a long way to helping her overcome it.



answers from Redding on

This is probably not going to be a popular response, but here goes anyway.
She may be really afraid of the dark. But you have to help her get to the bottom of why. She might not know why, in which case, you might need to take her to see someone about it.
In the meantime, tell her you want to understand, you really do, but it's not fair to make her little sister get up and go with her or turn lights on for her. If she is afraid there is something dangerous in the dark, is she sending her little sister so it can get her first? That's not very nice if that's what she's thinking.
I mentioned a few days ago in a response that my daughter "developed" a fear of balloons, of all things. She was afraid they would pop and be loud and hurt her ears. She is 10 years older than her little brother and she got to the point where she didn't want anyone else having balloons, including her little brother being able to have balloons at his own birthday party. I told her it wasn't fair because HE wanted them, it was HIS party, and SHE needed to knock it off. I'd had enough of her throwing fits over balloons.
She informed me she wouldn't go into Safeway one day because they had mylar balloons by the bakery and cakes when you walk in.
I was like, "Seriously? We can't go to the grocery store anymore?"
Mylar balloons don't even pop.
I might have been a little insensitive, but it was becoming a real control issue for her and when she informed me no balloons for her little brother, I had had it.
She didn't have the right to make the decision what he could and couldn't have.
It ended that day.
I was done, she knew it.
She's 24 and guess who personally delivers balloon bouquets for people for birthdays or a new baby or if they're sick.
My daughter.
She can't have a celebration without balloons, for heaven's sakes.
Go figure.

I just thought, at the time, that she was either going to get over it, and stop disrupting everything and everybody else, or she was going into therapy over it. Over balloons.
I had tried everything else. There was only two ways it could go.

I hope you get some good responses. If you have tried everything else, all I can say is to try not buying into it. At least for a couple of nights.
No more enlisting her little sister.
That's just my opinion and I don't mean it to sound harsh or uncaring.
I'm not that kind of mom at all, believe me.
Maybe just try a different tactic.

Best wishes.



answers from Houston on

I remember as a little girl being so afraid of the dark too. I slept with several stuffed animals and held them tight all night long. I would close my eyes really tight in bed too and snuggle way under the covers so I wouldn't see anything. I remember having terrible nightmares! I'm sorry I don't have any new suggestions.



answers from Miami on


I was exactly the same when I was that age. My family used to get so annoyed with me but it was a true fear. I have a great family and nothing bad ever happened to me in my childhood but when night time came I was terrified. I shared a room with my sister and I was always asking if i could jump into her bed with her but she had to take the 3 steps over to my bed to come and get me. lol It was just something I outgrew and now my daughter (age 7) is kind of the same (not quite as bad as I was though). My daughter has one of those Glo-bears that light up and change colors and that has helped. I think this is one of those things that you will just have to be patient with. I was also told that this is a sign of someone with a great imagination!! :-)


answers from Phoenix on

My daughter is afraid of the dark and she is 11. Always has been and we did do some theorpy for anxiety. It came up in some of the sessions and the counslor said that this is something that we can try to control a little bit each month but it may be a while til she grows out of it. She had the hall light on, bathroom light on and two night lights in her room. We reduced it over time to hall light and one light in her room. They said to turn off the hall after she falls asleep and show her she slept through the night without the hall we are down to one light in her room. I know in a year or so, it will be none. Just takes time.



answers from Chicago on

My daughter is 9 and she's afraid of the dark. She won't go into any room that's dark or a part of the house that's dark. It seems silly but there isn't much you can do. One time the circuit breaker blew and the house was dark. My daughter screamed and clung to my leg freaking out so much and I couldn't even walk to the laundry room to get the lights back on. I felt bad but I had to yell at her to get her to stop screaming so I could get the lights back on.

We have a night light in her room, one in the bathroom and one in the hallway.

I would tell your daughter it's okay to be afraid of the dark, but not okay to wake her younger sister up. Give her a flashlight to keep by her bed, that solved our problem with middle of the night crises. We also got a special night light/flash light thing for her bedroom. You plug it in and it's a night light. If the electricity goes out the battery kicks in and it's also a flashlight. My daughter loves it because it means no matter what she will always have a night light in her room. She can use it as a flashlight if she needs to.

I'm pretty sure she'll outgrow it one day. I'm imagining that it will probably be around the time her friends like to sleep over and she won't want them to make fun of her for being afraid of the dark! I wouldn't push the issue beyond making sure that she's not interrupting your other daughter's sleep.

Also, try putting your daughter who is afraid of the dark near an outlet and get one of those glow pads for a nightlight. They don't radiate light like a lightbulb. If you plug it in near her bed and the other daughter is far from the outlet she shouldn't be bothered by it.

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