Blog

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “Why Are Kids So Afraid of the Dark?” 11 Things Parents should know     As we approach Halloween, many kids are excited to show off their costumes and load up on candy. But Halloween can also be scary for children with all of its spooky decorations, eerie sounds, and things that “go bump in the night.” But have you ever wondered why kids seem to be naturally afraid of the dark? It’s understandable why adults might be – they’ve seen enough episodes of Law and Order to know what can happen to unsuspecting people in the shadows.    But why do kids seem to fear the dark without having any negative experiences with it? Here are 11 things parents should know about your child’s fear of darkness:     1. It’s extremely common    All kids experience some type of fear throughout childhood, and fear of the dark is especially common. Fear of darkness usually starts between ages 3 and 6, when children are old enough to use their imagination but have not fully developed the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.      2. Fear is a defense mechanism   Fear is our brain’s natural response to defend ourselves against a perceived threat. Fears are normal throughout life but tend to be more vivid during childhood. While extreme fear can damage a child’s emotional well-being, a healthy amount of fear can help children take actions to remain safe. Fear of drowning, being burned, or being kidnapped might make your child avoid potentially unsafe situations.      3. DNA plays a factor    Ever had a terrible fear of something even though it’s never actually harmed you? Research has shown that some of our fears may be passed down through DNA from ancestors who had bad experiences with what we’re afraid of, such as snakes or heights. Though there’s no way to know for sure, it’s possible that fear of darkness could be instinctual because of our great great great great great grandparents!     4. It’s not the darkness that’s scary    …it’s the inability to see any potential threats lurking. The dark leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed to whatever is around us that we can’t see. When kids go to bed, they have fewer distractions to preoccupy their minds, so instead their imagination runs wild. As a result, a shadow in a dark corner can quickly turn into a 5-headed monster coming to get them.     5. Movies make a difference    Although most burglaries happen during the day when homeowners are off at work, the movies often portray the bad guys breaking in at night. These images can make your child equate darkness with scary or criminal activity. To help prevent their imagination from becoming their enemy, limit your child’s exposure to scary tv shows or news reports.      6. Healthy diets help   It might sound strange that your child’s dinner could impact how much their fear effects them, but the mind and body are connected and there are foods that promote sleep and reduce anxiety. Avoid evening snacks that are sugary or processed. Instead try things like almonds that contain tryptophan and magnesium which help muscle relaxation. Chamomile tea with a little honey can also be soothing.     7. Bedtime is for bonding    If your child is afraid of the dark, they may have a negative attitude about bedtime, associating it with being scared and anxious. Add calming, bonding experiences to their nighttime routine to make bedtime something they look forward to. Story time, lullabies, and cuddles with mom or dad can help calm them in the dark and make bedtime a positive experience.     8. Fear is not a parenting tool   When you realize your child is afraid of the dark, you may be tempted to use it to your advantage. “Finish your homework or the boogeyman is gonna get you!” “Go to sleep or I’ll feed you to the monster in your closet!” While these types of jokes might seem funny and lighthearted to you, they may instill unhealthy fears in your child, so avoid playing into their fears to get your way.      9. Fear feels real   When your child has intense, irrational fears, it can make a parent feel frustrated.  You  know that there’s nothing living under their bed, but every night you have the same 2-hour battle to get them to sleep. Still, try not to downplay what they’re afraid of. Let them know that you understand how they feel, that they are capable of moving past their fear, and that you’re going to help them overcome it.       10. Baby steps are ok   It’s good for you to encourage your child to face their fears, but allow them do so gradually and with support. Arm them with comfort items such as special blankets, a stuffed animal, or a flash light. Fill an empty spray bottle with water and glitter and tell them it’s “monster repellant.” Ask them if they want you to come check on them and let them decide when and how often to help them feel secure.     11. A Specialists can help   It is completely natural for your child to be somewhat afraid of the dark, but most children are able to move past their fears over time. For some children and teens, fears can turn into phobias that impact how they function in their everyday lives. If you are concerned about the level of your child’s fear of the dark (or any other fears), a Specialist at Variations can help.    Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can evaluate whether your child has a phobia and teach them strategies to gradually face their fears and overcome anxiety.       
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Cynthia Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. Cynthia can support your child or teen with moving past fears in a healthy, positive way.   Click here to schedule your appointment with Cynthia.   Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D.  Dr. Sample specializes in supporting teenage boys through tough life transitions. If your teenage son is having a difficult time coping with fears, Dr. Sample can provide him with tools and resources to support him.       
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life         
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "X");
     });
          

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
      Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Adolescence - Puberty, Cognitive transition, Emotional transition, Social transition  Psychology Encyclopedia  (2018) Retrieved online:  http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/14/Adolescence.html  Dowshen, S. (2015). A Parent’s Guide To Surviving The Teen Years. Retrieved online:  https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/adolescence.html  Puberty Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. Retrieved online:   http://www.healthofchildren.com/P/Puberty.html   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Why Are Kids So Afraid of the Dark? 11 Things Parents should know.     Psychologically Speaking .  [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/why-are-kids-so-afraid-of-the-dark-11-things-parents-should-know

“Why Are Kids So Afraid of the Dark?” 11 Things Parents should know

Ever wonder why kids seem to be naturally afraid of the dark? In the spirit of Halloween, we dove into answering this question in this week’s blog. Check it out!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Welcome to  Psychologically Speaking , the blog forum of Variations Psychology. Variations is excited to launch this blog as a means for you to discover all-things-psychology and get to know our expert team and their specializations.    In each of our weekly posts, our team of experienced specialists will help you unveil some of the most prevalent psychological issues that impact your daily life.   If you’re like most people, odds are you’ve dealt with stress, anxiety, or confusion over your share of life events. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, life throws you another curve ball that you didn’t see coming, and you’re back at square one wondering how to overcome your situation.  Whether it’s going through a divorce, realizing your child has a learning disability, feeling overwhelmed with stress, adjusting to becoming an empty-nester, or just feeling depressed for no apparent reason, we’ve all dealt with circumstances that challenge our psychological health. What is sometimes even harder is seeing a loved one struggling and not understanding their situation or knowing how to help them.  When we don’t understand the causes and treatment for our psychological problems, we may find ourselves feeling frustrated and alone which only adds to the situation’s pain. Out of this frustration, we may act in ways that only worsen the problem, such as screaming at an enraged child or enabling an alcoholic spouse. Without understanding the psychology behind our life challenges, it’s hard to come up with effective solutions.   That’s where Variations Psychology comes in   Here at Variations Psychology, our team of experienced specialists are dedicated to helping you unravel life’s myriad of challenges. We offer a variety of therapy options in several specialized areas to empower you to overcome the obstacles you or your loved ones have been struggling with.    Psychologically Speaking  will provide you with the inside scoop on why you or your loved ones are feeling or behaving in a way that hurts, and provide step by step strategies to get you back on track toward health and happiness.        While all of us face psychological challenges in our lives, it can be scary and overwhelming to seek help and choose a professional to put your trust in.   Subscribing to  Psychologically Speaking  will give you a taste of the specializations and therapy options our experts offer, so you can decide if the Variations’ team might be the right fit for you and your family.   Based on their extensive experience providing therapy and counseling, our   specialists   will share their perspectives on topics related to stress, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, personality disorders, parenting, women’s issues, men’s issues, educational advocacy, and more.  Subscribe to our blog to stay in-the-know on topics that are relevant to individuals and families today, such as:    Parenting throughout all stages of life, from tantrum raged toddlers to grumpy teenagers and adult children “failing to launch”    Supporting children with ADHD or autism spectrum disorders    Coping with stress and anxiety    Overcoming depression    Marriage counseling    Divorce advice    Women’s Issues    Men’s Issues    Generational Issues: From Baby Boomers to Millennials and everything in between!    Recovering from sexual and physical abuse    Unplanned pregnancy    Post-traumatic stress disorder    Caring for an elderly parent    Stress in the workplace    Raising girls vs. raising boys    Father and daughter relationships    Post-partum depression    Menopause    Advocating for your special needs child    Talking to your children about sex and drugs    Overcoming domestic violence    Mental health tests for anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and other disorders    Mental health tests for depression and much more!      Psychologically Speaking ’s team brings a holistic psychological outlook on some of life’s most prevalent issues faced today.   In seeking advice on life’s challenges, it can be tough to know who to turn to. When it comes to updating your hairstyle, you should consult your hairdresser, when it comes to buying a new exhaust system, you should call up your mechanic. But when it comes to the mental and emotional health of you and your loved ones, there is no better source than an experienced team of psychology experts and who can give you perspective on your situation,  psychologically speaking.      
 
	 Schedule an appointment 
         Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:     

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Subscribe    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
       
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "x");
     });
            Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our   specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.

Variations is excited to launch this blog as a means for you to discover all-things-psychology and get to know our expert team and their specializations.

In each of our weekly posts, our team of experienced specialists will help you unveil some of the most prevalent psychological issues that impact your daily life.

If you’re like most people, odds are you’ve dealt with stress, anxiety, or confusion over your share of life events. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, life throws you another curve ball that you didn’t see coming, and you’re back at square one wondering how to overcome your situation.