Nighttime fears

Nighttime fears are when children are experiencing high anxiety and feeling scared at night. They might report “seeing a ghost” or fear of the dark. This is highly common in young children, especially from the ages of 4-7, and quite normal. We typically suggest use of a nightlight, bedtime buddy (e.g., one special stuffed animal that stays with the child during the night) and reassuring statements (e.g., “your parents are watching over the house and keeping you safe”). We typically discourage parents from “checking for monsters”, as this only reinforces the fear and teaches children that “there might be monsters under your bed later, there just weren’t any there when I checked!”. Nighttime fears exceed what is considered normal when they cause significant delay with falling asleep asleep and related sleep loss. At such times, we then work with families to integrate evidence-based behavioral strategies to help with falling asleep and returning to sleep.

DrLullaby can help with behavioral sleep issues. The information provided here is not intended as a diagnosis or medical treatment, but instead meant as a learning opportunity. Please schedule an appointment with DrLullaby for more help.