Do You Care for a Child That is Afraid of the Dark?

Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours By Dr. Kevin Leman

For our October To-Do List we encourage nannies and au pairs to help children deal with fear in healthy ways. Almost all of the comments by caregivers under our to-do list yesterday mentioned that their charges are afraid of the dark or going to bed. Dr. Kevin Leman, author of Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours has some great advice about children and fear, and specifically those afraid of the dark or going to bed.

In Making Children Mind without Losing YoursDr. Leman explains, “Children — particularly the very young, under six-years of age — frequently have fears. Fears come in all sizes and shapes: nightmares, fears of the dark, and others. Most parents find that their children’s fears center around nighttime, going to sleep, and being in the bedroom alone.”

The author recommends, “One of the best ways to help your children with their fears is to talk about your own fears. Most of us, as children, and fears of one thing or another. It’s good to share your own experiences.”

He warns, “Never criticize or reprimand [a] child for having fears. Whatever you do, don’t make fun of him, no matter how amusing a certain remark he made might be.”

“Help [the] child understand that everyone has fears and that with help and encouragement, he can overcome what is making him afraid,” adds the author.

“Keep in mind, however, that a child may use fear in the same way he might use remorse — as a ploy or a manipulative tool. Children are masters at needlessly involving Mom and Dad in their lives. They want to monopolize their parents and will got to great lengths to do so,” he explains.

Dr. Leman recommends, “One of the suggestions I make to parents of young children is that bedtime itself should include a built-in routine. As the child gets tucked in there can be a prayer time plus a story time, or perhaps you may want to play a recording.”

Dr. Leman also warns us not to allow children to view violent forms of media. He writes, “Parents must be acutely aware of the potential long-term damage that can result from allowing their children to watch violent or frightening programs or films.”

Do you care for a child that is afraid of the dark?


  1. Sure do! As a nanny it can be frustrating though because the parents have to follow the advice you share because they are the ones puttlng their little ones to bed each night. Good advice. Thanks so helpful.

  2. Yes number one fear is always fear of the dark.

  3. I think that every child I ever babysat or nannied for has been afraid of the dark at some time or another. Some nannies think it's only an issue for the parents, but it is a problem for me too as I do put the kids to bed sometimes.

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