How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Help Children That are Afraid of the Dark

In the March 2010 issue of Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide we discussed how to help children cope with common childhood fears and how to determine when a child may need professional help for anxiety disorders.

Being afraid of the dark is a very common childhood fear. We listed ten suggestions to help children cope with their fear of the dark. One ideas is to use a night light or dimmer switch on the light at bedtime. We also listed some children’s books to read to children about how to cope with being afraid of the dark.
What tips do you have to share with in-home childcare providers about caring for children that are afraid of the dark?


  1. Read children's books about being afraid of the dark. I like that you listed some and playing games in the dark during the day can help. I like the idea of playing shadow puppets and blindfolding kids and let them use their sense of smell to identify things is a good idea.– Shoshanna Levy Greenwich, CT

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  3. I believe in the use of aromatherapy, in particular lavendar. (It's nice that some baby products have this too.) On bath night many of my young charges get a massage with lotion that has lavendar in it.What I have also done with the real anxious ones in the homes where a parent was away for business, or divorce, we would go through a ritual of spraying around the rooms sweet dreams water (lavendar linen water). One set of twins who were into fairies and listened to a CD on Fairy music for naptime changed the name to magic fairy water and they needed to go to sleep so the fairies would come play in their rooms.Some of the others that grew up in religious homes would have the guardian angels in their bedrooms too.

  4. Good idea Lisa I never thought of that. Too bad I am allergic to lavendar. I just think we have to be sensitive to the fear and leave a light on in the bathroom or ahll if that eases the child's mind. I think there are a lot of adults that are afraid of the dark also, so nothing to be made fun of. In this issue they listed turning on light then turning it off showing kids that everything is same when turn off light too is a fun idea.

  5. This is one area that is up to the parents to decide what to do. All the families I have worked for (6) show me what they do. I don't decide if they will use a night light or keep hallway light on.The parents and kids have that figured out before I ever meet them.But playing games and reading books about the topic is great. I think any parent would be appreciate and thankful to have a nanny that takes the initiative to help the children with this fear.Sandra Orange County CA

  6. I agree it's up to the parents on how their children will sleep but we certainly can share advice. All ideas listed in newsletter are great.Maria Lopez Miami

  7. I was terrifed of the dark when I was little. I had to sleep with the door open AND a night light. I don't know that I got less sleep but looking back, I felt more connected to everyone in the house if the door was open. Hard to explain. I''m now 54 and I still like to sleep with the bedroom door open…I feel more connected to the house and my kids. Mother Grandmother NannySammi Tulsa Okla

  8. I have used guided meditations based on a book by Maureen Garth called ''Sunshine''. She wrote several books of meditations for children. The son closes his eyes and I start a 5 to 10 minute story that always begins, "Picture the light from your own special star shining down on you, making you feel peaceful and relaxed. Take a d! eep breath in and let it out. Follow the light from your star down the path to the Worry Disposal. If you have any worries, throw them in, and the Worry Disposal will grind them up." The son pretends to pull the worries out of his head and names them as he throws them away. "Now your worries are all gone. You feel light and happy as you walk down the path to your secret garden. Open the magic gate that only you can open, and close it behind you. Inside the magic walls of your garden you are safe."Often he falls asleep before I finish. Two other things that helped when he went through fearful stages: a dream catcher and designating his biggest teddy as the Papa Bear who would protect him and the other stuffed animals. Daisy, Brooklyn NY

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